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Aude

Aude

[ohd]
Aude, department (1993 est. pop. 289,400), S central France, in Languedoc. Carcassonne, its capital, and Narbonne are the chief cities.
Aude (Occitan: Aude) is a department in south-central France named after the Aude River. The local council also calls the department "Cathar Country".

Aude is also a frequent feminine French given name in Francophone countries, deriving initially from Aude or Oda, a wife of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine and mother of Saint Hubertus's brother Eudo.

History

The Roman road Via Domitia crossed Aude in classical times.

Aude was the center of the Cathars, a 10th-century dualistic and Gnostic Christian sect.

The present department is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from part of the former province of Languedoc.

Geography

Aude is located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees mountains.

It is part of the current region of Languedoc-Roussillon. It is surrounded by the departments of Pyrénées-Orientales, Ariège, Haute-Garonne, Tarn, and Hérault, with the Golfe du Lion on the east.

Climate

Aude is under the influence of a Mediterranean climate.

The autumn is characterized by violent and short storms. The summer is often hot and dry, which is favorable to the culture of the vine and the olive-trees. Yet, the department is has several contrasts in climate: In the north, the Montagne Noire and, in the south, the Pays de Sault, have a mountainous climate with temperatures sometimes very low in winter. In the west, the climate is under Aquitaine influence with heavier precipitation while in the east the climate is purely Mediterranean. In the centre, in the Limouxin, Carcassonnais and of Razès areas, the climate is known as intermediary with significant exposure to winds. The winds are often present in Aude. It is one of the windiest French department, with 300 to 350 days of wind per year. This phenomenon is mostly due to the variations in relief north and south which create a kind of corridor.

In the north-west blows the Cers, called Tramontane in Provence, which is a ground wind. It is a dry, somewhat violent wind and cold in winter. In the south-east blows the Autan, locally called the Marin, which is hot and wet and comes from the sea.

These regular winds made it possible to install a park of wind mills, as in the area of Avignonet-Lauragais.

Tourism

Carcassonne has been restored to much of its medieval glory. Narbonne attracts many tourists to its Roman ruins. Other towns and villages worth visiting include Limoux, Quillan, Lezignan - Corbières, Lagrasse, Sigean and Leucate. Limoux lies in the upper Aude valley, 24 km south of Carcassonne. It is particularly noted for its local wine, Blanquette, a sparkling white wine which is said to have been the forerunner of Champagne. Limoux hosts an extensive and varied market each Friday. Quillan lies 27 km further south in the upper Aude valley and is at the head of the branch railway from Carcassonne. Lezignan-Corbières lies on the main road between Carcassonne and Narbonne. It is called the capital of the Corbières and has an excellent Wednesday morning market. Lagrasse is listed as one of the most attractive villages in France. It stands on the River Orbieu and has an 8th century abbey, two very attractive bridges and an unchanged and very compact and delightful medieval stone village centre. Sigean, 18 km south of Narbonne, lies between the A9 Autoroute and the coast and has an African Reserve. Leucate is an attractive hilltop village, about 30 km south of Narbonne, which has spread down to the coast where Leucate Plage is a popular beach resort.

The Corbières Hills form the central part of the department. This is an area of dissected plateaux and escarpments which form an effective barrier to direct road communication. It is a very attractive and sometimes wild area of steep hills, hidden valleys, woodland and vines, and contains some of the most memorable Cathar sites including Quéribus, Peyrepertuse and Villerouge-Termenès.

Wine production is extensive across Aude, and local chateaux and domaines provide free tastings as well as sales of wine and other local produce. With the decline of some local wine production, local government policy is now to attract more tourists to the area, and to assist with this the Corbières area is now labelled on maps and road signs as Cathar country.

See also

External links

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