Two previous stages

Sub-prefecture of Aude (11)

Population: 10,670

Personalities: Aude Bourrel aka Jacoba (19th century, considered the last Cathar), Philippe Fabre d'Eglantine (1750-1794, poet and politician), Ferdinand Lapasset (general, hero of the war of 1870), Michel Sabatier (inventor of liquor "La Micheline"), Marie Petiet (painter), Jules Védrines (aviator), Jacques Ferrier (architect, realised the French Pavilion for the Shanghai World Fair)

Specialties: Pébradou (pepper twisted appetizer cake), salty liver artichokes, Limouxine duck (saffron and whole garlic sauce), Limoux fricassee, Limos (crown of kings, brioche with candied fruit), the tap (thin chocolate cap), the nougat. Sparkling AOC wines (Blanquette de Limoux, Crémant de Limoux, Blanquette ancestral method)

Sport: 63 clubs, 5,500 members. Flagship club: 13 Limouxin (rugby league Nat.1). Cycling: Jeune Cyclisme Haute vallée de l’Aude, Cyclo Club Limoux (organizer of the Cyclomontagnarde of Limoux in Pyrenees Audoises), VTT Limoux.

Economy: viticulture, co-operative cellars of Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux, tourism

Festivals: Limoux Carnival (January-April, folklore), Toques et Clochers (Palm week-end, auction for European and international sommeliers and restaurateurs, then gala dinner), Limoux Brass Festival (May, jazz and world music), Night Fricassee (August), Vine and Terroir Festival (August, local producers), Bulles Sonores Festival (November, chanson), Fat Fair (November)

Labels: Flower city 3 flowers / The 100 Most Beautiful Detours of France / 3 Tree frogs (zero phyto objective)

Websites / social networks: / / / Facebook : @LaRegionOccitaniePyreneesMediterranee / Instragram : @laregionoccitanie / Twitter : @Occitanie

The longest carnival in the world

The Limoux carnival lasts three months. From January to March, every Saturday and Sunday at 11:00, 16:30 and 22:00, the arcades of Place de la Republique resound with the notes of traditional music preceded by the procession of the carnival goers. More events are held during the Folkloric Week.

One Saturday is dedicated to the carnivals of the world and the following Sunday is the day when all the Limoux groups take to the streets, led by one musician and his instrument in a flurry of colourful costumes. This exceptional Sunday is the highlight of the carnival.

Unlike other carnivals, the Limoux carnival is not about parading. It is pure folklore, inherited from tradition and it is deeply engraved in the fabric of the city itself. It is part of Limoux’s cultural heritage. His Majesty Carnival is received on the first Sunday of the celebrations by the Millers wearing a bonnet, a blouse, white trousers, a red scarf, clogs and holding a whip. The straw dummy will later be judged and burnt on the last day of the carnival, known as the Blanquette Day.


In 2012, a long breakaway between Limoux and Foix helped Luis Leon Sanchez celebrate his fourth stage victory in the Tour de France with a cup of blanquette. Gone in a group also including Peter Sagan, Philippe Gilbert, Sandy Casar and Gorka Izagirre, the Spaniard outwitted his companions to attack with 11 km to go and restore the pride of his Rabobank team, who had only four riders left in the race. The stage, already leading to the prefecture of Ariege, had been marked by an incident when spectators spilt nails on the road at the top of Mur de Peguere, leading several prominent riders to puncture.

The year before, the peloton left Limoux for Montpellier, where Mark Cavendish collected his 4th stage victory of the 2011 edition. In 1976, a Grand prix du Midi-Libre stage had been won by Lucien Van Impe, soon to win the Tour, ahead of Bernard Hinault and Raymond Poulidor.

Luis Leon Sanchez - Tour de France 2012 - Etape Limoux/Foix © Presse Sports / B.Papon

Petiet Museum
In a 19th century atmosphere, the museum is located in the artist’s studio of the Petiet family. A great diversity of works are on display, exploring the main currents of modern painting: orientalism, academism, impressionism or pointillism.

Piano museum
The St Jacques church houses the only public museum in France devoted to the piano and its making. The chronological exhibition recounts the history of the great French piano makers like Pleyel or Erard. The museum boast some 100 pianos, some of them unique in the world. The site also hosts quality concerts.

St Hilaire abbey
Its origins are uncertain. The first mention dates from 825. Until the start of the 13th century, the monastery was under the protection of the Counts of Carcassonne. But during the Cathar period, monks were accused of heresy and lost their independence and most of their good. Today, houses were built inside the premises and the cloister became a square. The church houses the sarcophagus of St Sernin, first bishop of Toulouse.

© DR
© CC BY-SA 3.0

Blanquette, the first sparkling wine

Even though gaillac mousseux and Clairette de Die also claim anteriority, blanquette showed the way to champagne as the famous dom Perignon, who was returning from Spain, stopped in Limoux St Hilaire abbey and discovered the sparkling wine invented inadvertently by the monks in 1531. He took the recipe back with him to Champagne. Some sources even claim the invention dates as far back as the 14th century.

Several cellars in Limoux produce blanquette and cremant but the most important producer is the cellar of Vignerons du Sieur d’Arques. Created in 1946, this cooperative regroups 330 winemakers spread over 6,000 ha. Blanquette is made of three main grape breeds: mauzac (90 pc), chardonnay and white chenin.

Carnaval de Limoux © D. Donnat

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