Ten Reasons to Make Aude Your Home

Originally posted on & updated on 15th June, 2024

The Aude is a beautiful department of southwest France, named after the river running through its heart. It is known for its diverse landscapes, great food, tasty wines, and amazing history, including personal, as our family has roots and ancestors there, a small place called Rivel with about 200 souls including British expats our cousins tell us. Part of the Occitanie region, the Aude sits between our beloved Pyrenees to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the east. Its landscape features vineyards, rolling hills, historic towns, and beautiful beaches.

The department is steeped in history and is home to several important historical sites, including the UNESCO-listed Cité de Carcassonne, a medieval fortress considered one of Europe’s most impressive and well-preserved. The Aude is also known for its food and wines with several important wine-growing regions, including Limoux or the Corbières, famous for its distinctive red wines and Minervois, known for its excellent reds, whites, and rosés. With its pleasant climate and laid-back atmosphere, the Aude is an excellent choice for anyone looking for property in France.

Ten Reasons to Buy (and Live) in the Aude

The Breathtaking Scenery

The Aude department boasts the sumptuousness of the Pyrenees mountains, where snow-capped peaks provide a stunning natural backdrop for outdoor adventures such as hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. The Montagne Noire, or Black Mountain, forms part of the southern boundary, offering rugged terrain, dense forests, and serene lakes perfect for nature walks and picnics.

To the east, the Aude meets the Mediterranean coastline, where beaches stretch for miles, and azure waters invite sunbathing, swimming, and various water sports. The region is also home to the Minervois and Corbières wine-growing areas, where rolling vineyards blanket the hillsides and produce some of the finest wines in the Occitanie region, formely known as Languedoc-Roussillon The simple beauty of these vineyards is complemented by typical Languedoc villages, some listed as the plus Beaux Villages de France, ancient castles, and abbeys that dot the landscape, such as the village of Minerve, known for its dramatic cliffside setting.

The Aude’s diverse landscapes include lush green valleys, limestone plateaux, and the scenic Canal du Midi. This UNESCO World Heritage site winds through the countryside, offering picturesque boating, cycling, and walking routes.

Rich History and Culture

The Aude is a cultural treasure trove, making it a paradise for history enthusiasts and culture lovers. The crown jewel of Aude’s historical sites is the UNESCO-listed Cité de Carcassonne, one of Europe’s most impressive and well-preserved walled cities. With its double ring of ramparts, 53 towers, and labyrinthine streets, Carcassonne transports visitors back to the Middle Ages, offering glimpses into the past with its museums, guided tours, and medieval reenactments. Beyond Carcassonne, the area is dotted with ancient castles such as Château de Quéribus and Château de Peyrepertuse, perched on rocky outcrops, providing panoramic views and a sense of the strategic importance these castle fortresses once held.

Medieval towns like Mirepoix and Limoux further enrich the region’s historical tapestry. Mirepoix, with its colourful arcaded square, is a delightful town to explore. Limoux is famous for its Blanquette de Limoux and its lively Carnaval de Limoux, which spans several months. Romanesque abbeys such as the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire and the Abbey of Fontfroide offer spiritual experiences and architectural features. Narbonne, once a vital Roman port, showcases remnants of its ancient past with the Horreum, an underground Roman warehouse, and the impressive Narbonne Cathedral.

Aude’s unique culture is celebrated through numerous festivals and events. The Festival of Carcassonne brings many music, theatre, and dance performances to the city’s historic sites. The Toques et Clochers wine festival in Limoux highlights the region’s winemaking heritage, while medieval festivals in towns like Lastours recreate the past with jousting tournaments and craft markets.

Mild Climate

The Aude enjoys a temperate climate, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts and sun seekers. The area experiences long, warm summers, with temperatures typically ranging from the mid to high 20s Celsius and sometimes reaching into the low 30s. This weather is ideal for exploring the countryside, relaxing on the Mediterranean beaches, or participating in outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, golf and water sports. The sunshine also benefits the local vineyards, contributing to producing the region’s famous wines.

In winter, Aude enjoys mild weather, with temperatures rarely dropping below 10 degrees Celsius in most places. The moderate winter climate is perfect for exploring the region’s sites without dealing with large crowds. The mild winters also allow for year-round outdoor activities and fun, ensuring there is always something to see and do.

Vineyards and Wine

The Aude is integral to the Occitanie wine-growing region, celebrated for its high-quality and diverse wines. This area carries a viticultural heritage dating back to Roman times, and it is home to some of France’s most famous vineyards. The Corbières, Minervois, Malpere and Limoux appellations are particularly noteworthy, each offering flavours that reflect the distinct terroir of each appellation. The Corbières area is famous for its robust red wines from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre grapes, producing intense aromas that pair wonderfully with local cuisine.

The Minervois wine region, situated between the Aude and Hérault departments, is renowned for its elegant red wines and refreshing whites. The reds, often a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan, are known for their complex bouquet and smooth finish, while the white wines, crafted from varieties such as Marsanne and Roussanne, are celebrated for their crispness and aromatic qualities. Many of the wineries in the Minervois region offer guided tours and tasting sessions, allowing you to learn about the winemaking process directly from the producers and to sample (and purchase) the wines produced in this area.

The Limoux appellation is renowned for its sparkling wines, particularly Blanquette de Limoux and Crémant de Limoux. These sparkling wines are crafted using traditional methods and are considered some of the oldest sparkling wines in the world. The region’s cooler climate and high elevation create the perfect conditions for producing these refreshing wines. Take a look at this rare chateau estate with 70 ha of producing vines, just 10 minutes from the medieval city of Carcassonne, and it’s international airport.

Affordable Property Prices

The Aude is renowned for its reasonably priced properties, making it a sought-after destination for both home buyers and seasoned investors. Compared to other popular regions in France, such as Provence or the Côte d’Azur, house prices in Aude remain lower, offering excellent value for money. This affordability allows buyers to explore options, from village houses and traditional stone farmhouses to modern villas and even historical chateaux. The diverse selection of properties means that whether you are looking for a permanent residence, a holiday home, or an investment property, you can find something that suits your lifestyle and budget. Many villages and towns in Aude offer amenities such as local markets, schools, healthcare facilities, and leisure activities, all within a friendly and welcoming community.

The reasonable property prices also mean that buyers can invest in renovations and upgrades, tailoring their homes to their own taste while still staying within budget. This financial flexibility and the region’s lifestyle benefits make Aude a compelling choice for anyone looking to buy a property and settle here.

Excellent Food and Cuisine

The Aude region is also renowned for its varied gastronomy, offering some of France’s most diverse culinary experiences. The local cuisine is a delightful blend of traditional flavours and regional specialities, making it a haven for food lovers. One of the area’s most iconic dishes is cassoulet, a hearty slow-cooked casserole made with white beans, duck or pork, and Toulouse sausage. This classic dish from Castelnaudary embodies the rustic flavours that define Aude’s culinary identity. Another local favourite is the bourride, a traditional fish stew similar to La Bouillabaisse made with a delicious garlic mayonnaise called aioli, enhancing the taste of Mediterranean seafood.

In addition to these classic dishes, Aude’s cuisine also features an array of regional recipes that highlight the area’s agricultural heritage. Dishes like confit de canard (duck confit) and magret de canard (duck breast) showcase the region’s expertise in preparing duck, a staple ingredient in many local meals. The region is also known for its savoury tarts and pastries, such as the Tourte de Limoux, a savoury pie filled with a mix of meats and vegetables, and the croustade, a pastry filled with apples or other seasonal fruits. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients play a crucial role in the region’s culinary offerings, with seasonal produce, aromatic herbs, and fine cheeses integral components of many dishes.

Proximity to the Coast and Mountains

Aude offers an exceptional advantage with its proximity to both the coast and the mountains, providing residents and visitors with diverse recreational opportunities. Situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees Mountains, the department allows easy access to beaches and mountain landscapes. The coastal area, with its sandy shores and charming seaside towns, is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and engaging in various water sports such as sailing, windsurfing, and snorkelling. The picturesque towns of Gruissan and Narbonne Plage, with their vibrant atmosphere and seafood restaurants, are popular destinations for those seeking a coastal retreat.

In contrast, the Pyrenees Mountains offer a different kind of adventure. Just a short drive away, these mountains provide excellent opportunities for hiking, skiing, and exploring the great outdoors. During the winter months, the Pyrenean ski resorts such as Les Angles and Font-Romeu are popular among skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, offering well-maintained slopes and incredible winter scenery. In the warmer months, the mountains become a haven for hikers, climbers, scouts and nature lovers, with numerous trails that lead through lush forests, past clear blue lakes, and up to breathtaking viewpoints.

Active Lifestyle

Aude region is also renowned for its wide range of outdoor activities, making it a paradise for sports and fitness enthusiasts. Hikers can explore the diverse landscapes, from the trails of the Pyrenees Mountains to the rolling vineyards and coastal paths along the Mediterranean.

Cycling and mountain biking are also incredibly popular, with numerous routes that cater to different skill levels, offering views and challenging terrains. The region’s lakes and rivers provide excellent swimming, kayaking, and canoeing opportunities, ensuring water sports enthusiasts are never short of activities. Additionally, the area boasts several golf courses, allowing golfers to tee off amidst the picturesque countryside. For winter sports lovers, the nearby Pyrenees Mountains offer skiing and snowboarding, with resorts providing a variety of slopes and facilities to suit both beginners and advanced skiers.

Team sports also play a significant role in Aude’s active lifestyle. Football is widely played and followed, with local teams and community leagues offering plenty of opportunities for participation and spectating. However, rugby holds a special place in the hearts of the locals. The region has a considerable rugby tradition, with many clubs and a passionate fan base. Rugby matches are vibrant community events, bringing people together to celebrate their love for the sport. The enthusiasm for rugby in Aude is palpable, with local teams often competing at high levels and fostering a strong sense of camaraderie and regional pride.

Strong Ex-pat Community

The Aude is renowned for its inclusive ex-pat community, which has flourished over the years as more international residents choose to make this picturesque part of southwest France their home. Aude’s friendly atmosphere makes it an ideal destination for those seeking to establish new friendships and connections while getting closer to nature. Numerous ex-pat groups and social clubs organise regular events, from wine tastings and gourmet dinners to hiking trips and cultural excursions, fostering strong camaraderie and support among residents.

Local markets, festivals, and community events provide ample opportunities for ex-pats to integrate and participate in the vibrant local culture. Whether you’re looking to meet like-minded individuals, learn French, or immerse yourself in the traditions of your new home, the ex-pat community here offers a welcoming environment that helps make the transition to life in France enjoyable and fulfilling.

Quality of Life

The Aude is renowned for its quality of life, offering residents the perfect blend of modern amenities and natural beauty. The area boasts excellent schools catering to local and international students, ensuring families can access high-quality education. These institutions provide a supportive environment, helping children to thrive academically and socially.

Additionally, the region is home to top-notch healthcare facilities, including well-equipped hospitals and clinics staffed by skilled medical professionals. Moreover, the Aude region enjoys low crime rates, which makes it a safe place to live. The communities here are known for their friendliness and hospitality, creating an inclusive atmosphere for new-coming ex-pats and long-term residents. Public services are efficient and reliable, with well-maintained infrastructure and recreational facilities that enhance the living experience.

The Aude department offers excellent and affordable property options, from ‘pieds-a-terre’ in Carcassonne to a unique wildlife domaine with land, countryside homes and castles. Thanks to its mild climate, vibrant communities, and superb quality of life, the Aude is an excellent choice for anyone looking to buy property in Occitanie. If you are looking for a property in this area of SW France, please contact us with details about your search or register your criteria to receive alerts of new properties as they come to the market.

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