Situated in the north of the Corbieres, between Narbonne and Carcassone, the medieval village of Lagrasse offers a feast for the eyes and is full of historical and cultural interest. It is classed as one of France’s most beautiful villages. The Abbey of St Marie d’Orbieu dates from the 8th century and stands across the river Orbieu on the opposite bank from the village.

If you like visiting ruined châteaux, head north to the valley of the Orbiel. Just twenty minutes from Carcassonne is the village of Lastours. High on a ridge above the village, four separate châteaux stand in a line: Cabaret, Tour Régine, Surdespine and Quertinheux.

Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban designed a new fort at the crossroads of the Conflent, Capcir and Cerdagne to defend the border. Named after King Louis X1V, it is said that he chose the position of Mont Louis based on the good health and fine teeth of the inhabitants of nearby villages!

Narbonne is a leafy and well-appointed town, initially founded by the Romans in 118 BCE, when it was known then as Narbo. Once a very prosperous port and a major city due to its strategic location, it was in fact Rome’s first colony in Gaul.

Céret-born Martin Fourcade, a 26-year-old non-commissioned officer of the mountain infantry brigade at Chamonix, emerged from the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games as the new star of biathlon, with three medals – two gold and one silver.

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