Thursday, 1 December 2016

Alet les Bains - we're in Cathar country

Alet les Bains 
Our newest campsite is the pretty Val d'Aleth in Alet les Bains. The town itself is small and incredibly historic. It dates back to Roman times and many of the narrow streets and overhanging buildings still have a distinctly Medieval feel. The campsite is at the edge of town, right on the banks of the river Aude, and is approached over an old stone bridge which looked a tad snug as we drove up to it, but was absolutely fine! The sharp right turn into the campsite lane is wider than it first appears too! We're using our ACSI card here to get us a price of €16 a night which includes the pitch, two people, 6A electricity and free wifi. The wifi is technically only around the Reception building, but at quiet times the signal does stretch as far as our pitch. At the moment though I am sitting out in glorious sunshine at a picnic bench to write this post.

The campsite is just over the river from the main road so there is fairly constant traffic noise, but it has lots of trees and hedges so feels tranquil. There's a railway line too and Alet les Bains station is easily walkable from the site. Trains go to Carcassonne and Quillan. The shower block onsite is reasonably new and smart, and there is a small shop in Reception. There's also several shelves of swappable books in a variety of languages. That's me sorted then!

Lion at Alet les Bains 
We took a wander around Alet les Bains on our first afternoon and stopped in at the little tourist office where we were given several local walking maps. We're hoping to get a walk from St Polycarpe in this afternoon. Alet les Bains is famous for its ruined 12th century abbey. Visits are possible when the tourist office is open (not every day at this time of year), but we just peered through the fence for now. There's another tiny book exchange under cover in the main square. It's community run which was great to see. All the books here are in French. Alet les Bains also has thermal springs and a large old 'Thermes' Spa park and building with this lion statue created by Mce Denonvilliers. Slightly further away from the old town, although nowhere is very far here, we discovered another community project - a recreated Medieval Garden with beds of plants separated according to their purpose, medicinal, edible, etc. The Garden was only started this summer and, obviously, doesn't look its best in November, but we enjoyed seeing how many plants we could recognise and labels we could translate.

Jardin Medieval at Alet les Bains 

I'm not sure how long we will stay here. Our plan before we arrived was maybe three weeks because the campsite shuts between Christmas and New Year. There's several towns nearby to explore, walks to take and this area of France is beautiful. I love seeing the golden vine fields! We might even take a trip back to Carcassonne. It must be about a decade since we were last there.

Symbols in Alet les Bains square 

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