Le Petit Ermite
Gîtes in Cathar country
The environment
Mystery
The Cathars were Christians who attributed a dualistic and mystical interpretation to the Bible stories. The group arose from the older Gnosticism. Catholics contested this “heresy” with the result that the Inquisition structurally massacred the Cathars. Some of them fled to the mountains and therefore many remains of this mystical believers are found in the region. Many villages still are surrounded with symbolism and special stories. The Cathars had their own vision on God and unanimously rejected the God of the Old Testament, which was ruthlessly cruel and vindictive, according to them. The spiritual leaders, the Parfaits, lived an ascetic life. They refused possession, ate no meat, drank no alcohol and fasted regularly. From various sources it is known that the Cathars and the Templars did keep much knowledge hidden from outsiders. Here you can experience the mystery and legends of the Holy Grail and discover the real Da Vinci Code. Everyone who loves history and ancient mysteries or is interested in ufology or likes it to investigate special spots and to examine the mysteries of ancient times, can decode ancient wisdom here.
Slowing down
In this environment you can pull back for a moment and disconnect yourself from the everyday world. Space and silence are here for those who welcome tranquility. The robust mountains show each moment new scenes, so it seems like you walk constantly in another painting, and the healthy air completes the whole picture. Cycling routes lead you along surprising villages and ruins. During trips you encounter unusual animals and plants. If you are lucky chamois, marmots, ibex and wild sheep will cross your path. Ornithologists can observe birds such as the Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Eagle Owl and Lemon Canaries. In the Pyrenees, more than 400 species of flowers grow. Between the carpet of heather-like vegetation, shrubs and trees much lavender and rosemary are growing and you can enjoy the wild orchids. 
Writers and artists find here inspiration and you can reconnect with your calling. In this beautiful area you will find pleasant places where you can enjoy to your heart’s content, recharge or meditate. Also at our property you can relax.
“Le Petit Ermite”
Gîtes & Table d’hôtes
 
Jean en Monique Hendriks 
1000 Chemin d’Axat
11140 Lavagnac 
Lapradelle-Puilaurens 
France 
 
Tel: 0033-780540166 
info@moniquehendriks.nl
Active
Thow who want to be active, can also have fun in the nearby area. You can raft, canoe, abseil, practice air sports, etc. But of course you can also go on a discovery trip. Walking in the Pyrenees, climbing the mysterious mountain of Bugarach or taking a dip in the magical Fontaine des Amours (The fountain of love). The whole area is of course perfect for climbers. The Pyrenees are also interesting for mountain bikers and cyclists.
Gardens and Caves
Although the Pyrénées actually form one large garden of unspoiled nature, there are also beautiful landscaped parks and gardens that you can visit, such as a special aroma garden that can be visited only during the summer season. Not only above the ground much can be seen, also under the surface the mountains hide various natural treasures. Many caves are open to the public and you can make a guided walk through in them. We have selected a number of caves that are open in the area for visitors and described them in the information-folder, but for daredevils the mountains also have various wild caves to explore.
Do you want to have a real cave experience? Let us know it, because we can bring you into contact with a guide who can visit a wild cave with you that is 30 kilometers away from our location. You will then stay under the ground for no less than 7 hours and travel into the earth with a helmet and rope ladders. This cave is not publicly accessible and too fragile for opening up to a large audience. You can participate with this guide throughout the year, but appointments must be made well in advance, so if you would like to have this special cave-experience, than you need to plan this appointment before you book a holiday with us, so you are assured of participation.
Art
Art lovers can have fun with explorations of the various churches and châteaux, but can also visit beautiful museums. The Musee des Beaux-Arts is a common example, but also the smaller museums of local celebrities are worth a visit, like the paintings of Jean Beaubois and the works of Marie Petiet. Another example is the wonderful place of the Benedictine abbey where a marble sarcophagus can be seen, which is dedicated to Saint Sernin. 
 Especially during the summer art trails and festivals are also organized, such as the annual Sculpture Trail near Carcassonne and the medieval arts and crafts festival in Duilhac. In the summer you can also attend concerts with medieval musical instruments at a nearby château.
Thermal baths
At various locations in the Pyrénées, you can take a thermal bath with healing, natural mineral water. These baths are in use since Roman times. The famous clairvoyant Nostradamus and Charlemagne went both to the area because of these baths. In some villages there are special valves where you can draw free healing spring water. Mountain waters which contain many minerals, salts, calcium and magnesium.
The spa water of this area is known for its beneficial effect on digestive disorders, obesity and diabetes, and this effect is also recognized by several French medical health insurers. If you visit us outside the summer season especially to visit these baths, we must recommend you to inform in advance if your desired location is opened. 
Also there are available natural sources and springs in the area.
Having fun
Those who like to move around, will find several entertainment venues in nearby towns. The best are of course cafes, creperies and restaurants that you discover yourself. 
Furthermore, there are many vineyards in the region and some winemakers, allow you to taste their products. Limoux is famous for its Blanquette de Limoux, Blanquette méthode ancestral and Cremant de Limoux, carbonated wines with a special taste. It is believed that the first sparkling wine in the world is produced in this region, by the monks of the abbey from Saint-Hilaire. The attractive, affordable sparkling wines obtain their distinctive flavor due to strong winds combined with the Mediterranean climate, as well as the rocky area with clay soil. 
Those who like to try their luck, can visit the casino nearby Alet-les-Bains. 
Furthermore, the French like to party. Therefore there are on regular base festivities organized in the villages in this region, such as music festivals, cultural events and theater performances. Celebrations for lemons, grapes, truffles, the French people always find a reason to organize fun festivities. So in France there is during the peak season always somewhere a party! 
Moreover, organizes Limoux from January to March a very special carnival during the weekends. People from all over the world come to visit this special carnival because it is a very ancient tradition here. It is the longest carnival in the world, and is not like any other carnival, because the festivities in Limoux consists of ancient rituals that are passed over from father to son for hundreds of years.
Sightseeing
At the Pyrenees you can find many natural and architectural treasures. In our information-folder you find a lot of tips for beautiful trips. In the area there are many nice villages and towns with pleasant markets and shopping streets. Sometimes you will imagine yourself in the Middle Ages, because some villages are architecturally a feast for the eye. Also here you can visit museums and other special locations that are worth visiting, such as the house where the famous clairvoyant Nostradamus lived for a while. France takes good care of its heritage. Ancient castles, magnificent churches and ruins will show you fragments of ancient times.