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The Aude is La France Profonde, truly traditional and rustic, with excellent local markets, rich in fresh produce and atmosphere.   The weekly markets at the historic and picturesque towns of Revel and Mirepoix are exceptionally good.     
There is a wealth of fine restaurants in the area, several with Michelin stars, including the Auberge du Poids Public at Saint Felix, which has great views out over the Lauragais plain.   

The Montagne Noire just  east of Revel is an excellent area for hiking, riding and cycling.   Lac  Saint-Ferréol (5 minutes from Revel) is the main reservoir which feeds the Canal du Midi.  During the summer windsurfing, sailing and mini-golf are available on the sandy beach.  at Saint-Ferréol .    
East of Carcassonne are the pretty wine growing areas of Minervois and Corbieres, with the beaches and flamingo-filled lagoons of the Mediterranean coast around an hour and a quarter  away.  There is an excellent animal reserve near the coast at Sigean, with extraordinary caves to explore at Limousin.
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Further south the ski resorts, hiking trails of the Pyrenees can be reached in around 1.5 hours.  Spectacular birds of prey can be seen including golden eagles,  vultures and lammergeyers.  
Toulouse, 45 mins west, is France’s third largest city, with superb shopping and restaurants.  It is known as the Ville Rose ("Pink City") for its distinctive brick architecture.  Toulouse is the home of European space adventure and La Cite de L’Espace, with its replica spacecraft, is well worth visiting.
 
Mirepoix
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Revel
Saint Felix
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