Why The Languedoc?

Or Occitanie as it now called, thanks to French bureaucratic changes!

Holiday-makers going to France for the first time or indeed the twenty-first time always face the dilemma of where exactly to go. All the regions are worth exploring but they all have their drawbacks. The Dordogne is too English, Normandy is too intemperate and Provence is too expensive. So why here?

Discover It First

La Bomba is in a relatively unknown corner of the Languedoc called Aude and more specifically a region called the Lauragais. It really is a remarkable part of the world – – wonderful countryside, fascinating history and incredible food – yet still very undeveloped. You won’t find hordes of Brits in every restaurant and beauty spot around.

Horrible Histories

History buffs will have a field day in the Lauragais. 2014 sees the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice by the Duke of Wellington and Marshal Soult at nearby Narouze that ended the Peninsular War. But most famously, this is Cathar country – those heretics who were persecuted by the Vatican in the Middle Ages, and there are many spectacular ruined castles to go and visit.

Bon Appetit

Many writers have described Aude as La France Profonde, truly traditional and rustic. This is most evident in the fabulous local markets, rich in fresh produce and atmosphere. The Saturday market in Revel – just a 15 minute drive away – is regarded as one of the finest in France and you won’t find a more photogenic market than the one at Mirepoix on Monday mornings.

Le Touriste Sportif

Ski-ing is an hour and a half away at Ax-Les-Thermes, theme parks are numerous including the wonderful animal reserve at Sigean or explore the extraordinary caves at Limousin. Very locally, tennis is just one km away, there are boat-trips on the Canal du Midi just 15 minutes away and horse-riding is on offer at the nearby equestrian centre. The cycling is worth an extra mention. It is superb biking country and the Tour de France always passes close by every July.

So Who Were The Cathars?

The Aude tourist board likes to promote itself as ‘Cathar Country’ and La Bomba is right at the heart of it, being just a few kilometers from St. Felix-Lauragais – where the Cathars held their first synod in 1167. But who exactly were they and what did they believe?

 Catharism was a heretical religion that flourished in Europe, and in the French Languedoc in particular, during the Middle Ages. They built tremendous castles (visits to which are highly recommended) and were remarkably progressive in extolling the virtues of vegetarianism, feminism and sexuality.

 Cathars believed in two gods – an evil Satan who they preached had created the world and another entirely good God. They thought the world, and man, was inherently sinful, and could not have been made by good God, who was the light, so must have been made by the dark Devil.  Their aim therefore was to live life as purely as possible, trying to rid themselves of the sin that they had been burdened with at birth.

 They lived ascetic lives, rejecting meat, alcohol and material possessions in an attempt to free themselves from the corruption of the world and become pure, enabling them to join the “good” God in heaven. These beliefs, combined with the fact that Cathar nobles in Languedoc owned valuable land, invoked the wrath of the Catholic church. In 1208 Pope Innocent III called the Albigensian Crusades against the Cathars. Over 500,000 were killed over the following 50 years.