Behind the Bubbly in Limoux France
Limoux is located on the Aude River in south-central France, just south of the walled city of Carcassonne, Limoux is a pretty little town with a mixture of ancient, Medieval and modern architecture. Home to around 10,000 residents, Limoux is best known for the wines produced in the area as well as the winter carnival.
A little about wine and Limoux
Limoux residents (and many wine historians) maintain that the region surrounding the city was the first to produce sparkling wine, well before Dom Perignon discovered the process in the Champagne region. One version of the story even has Fr. Perignon stealing the secret of the process during a visit to the region, but that is considered less likely by most historians. The primary grape grown in the Limoux wine region is Mauzac, a late-ripening white wine grape with a slight apple flavor that pretty much only thrives in this one small section of France. Mauzac is the primary (and required) ingredient in the area's sparkling wine, "Blanquette de Limoux." To make this wine, winemakers blend the juice of the Mauzac grape with that of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes. However, Mauzac grapes must, by law, constitute at least 90 percent of the wine's volume. In addition to the sparkling Blanquette de Limoux, the Limoux AOC (the government-designed growing region) crafts a number of still, white wines using the Mauzac grape as well as some notable Merlot wines.
Fun facts about Limoux
- Most wine historians believe that the first sparkling wine was crafted in 1531 by the monks at the Abbey of Saint-Hillaire, located near Limoux.
- Wine production in Limoux didn't begin with the discovery of sparkling wine; the region has been producing still wines since the time of the Roman Empire.
- Limoux is well known in France for its winter carnival, held during the three-month period preceding the beginning of Lent. Unique to this winter carnival is the fact that participants dress up as the sad clown character, Pierrot.
- Residents of Limoux are referred to as Limouxins.
- The region surrounding Limoux was one of the centers of Cathar believers during the 13th and 14th centuries. Historic sites having to do with the tragic face-off between these pacifists and the Roman Catholic Church are scattered around the area.
What to see in Limoux
There are many things to see and do in Limoux in addition to sampling the eponymous wines. The compact city was made for walking, and the Old Town features a good selection of 15th and 16th century townhouses, outdoor cafes and charming fountains and bridges to explore. Limoux is also home to a number of small, interesting museums, such as the Piano Museum, which is housed in a former church, and the Petiet Museum, which features a small but impressive Post-Impressionist collection. Other Limoux attractions include the Botanical Garden and the weekly farmers' market that sets up in the center of town each Friday. You can also still tour the Abbey Saint-Hillaire, located just outside of town.
Taking a barge cruise on the small inland waterways is a perfect way to experience historic sites, vineyards off-the-beaten-path, such as those around Limoux. Barges cruise at a leisurely pace across some of the most pristine landscapes in France, allowing you to savor the diverse and relaxing countryside. One price covers your expenses on a barge cruise including accommodations, gourmet meals, excursions with entrance fees, open bar and bicycles to use at your leisure.
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