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Carcassonne, the p Karen Slater, French Holiday expert, shares one of her favourite winter playgrounds... © Julien Roche City Hall Carcassonne France is an all year round destination offering something for everyone, though when we think of winter in France, it's generally for skiing holidays. But, there is so much more to this fascinating country at this time of the year. If you are a lover of myths and enchanting stories then a great place to visit in winter is Carcassonne in the Languedoc region. The world famous medieval citadel can be seen for miles around. Some say that Carcassonne was Walt Disney’s inspiration for the film Sleeping Beauty! From a distance it is breath-taking, but once there, inside the Citadel, your spirits will be lifted by the magic of this magnificent place. It was also the inspiration for Kate Mosse’s best-selling book “Labyrinth” – a story revolving around an ancient grail. From early December until early January Carcassonne’s magic is at its best as it comes alive with Christmas festivities. With twinkling lights everywhere, concerts, street entertainment, an ice rink, Christmas market and a jolly atmosphere. Hiring a car is a must as not too far from Carcassonne are two other enchanting towns, both have inspired books! Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is about a two hour drive from Carcassonne. It was once a fishing village built on an island in the heart of the beautiful Camargue region of France. Here you will see stunning white horses running wild! According to local legend, after the resurrection of Christ, Mary Magdalene and several disciples were forced to flee the holy land in 45 AD. They arrived in Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer and it is said Mary Magdalene remained here until her death many years later. It is now a holy place and referred to in books as ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ from which Dan Brown used information and references for his book The Da Vinci Code.
erfect winter destination Aigues-Morte, very close to Saintes-Mariesde-la-Mer is a city marked by crusades and the Knights Templar. It is a tourist site today but with an intriguing history and it’s a wonderful place to relax and chill enjoying the French lifestyle. In December the Cathar Castles and heritage sites are open and many appreciate that there are no crowds of tourists. The weather is generally sunny but cold, around 10 degrees. And, if you’re a wine lover now is a good time to visit as vignerons have a lot more time to spend with wine enthusiasts.
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