If you’re visiting the Aude with your family, why not visit Leucate's stronghold/castle? A fortress that served as a border between the kingdoms of Aragon and France. Worth every minute of the easy family hiking trails, everyone will enjoy the panoramic view of the lagoon (Étang de Leucate) across the Mediterranean towards the mountainous Canigou and Albères. But there's plenty more to explore at this viewpoint including the impressive fortress turned into a ruin by Louis XIV's signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659
If you've missed our previous visits to this region including the impressive citadel at Carcassonne... or the wetlands of the Camargue.... you'll know just how much we loved this region of France... Dripping with history, fantastic hikes through sweet smelling pine forests, a mild all year round climate and some of the most impressive coastal drives you can imagine... it's a great place to visit with kids.
For those reading this article who enjoy family hikes, then you'll have noticed the odd choice of footwear... but this hike can be short enough for flip flops (park just under the fortress)... or you can hike along the lagoon watching the windsurfers enjoying the shallow inlet before hiking upwards through the pine forests to the crest of the hill overlooking Leucate Plage.
For any history buffs who visit Leucate Fortress you'll love the chance to cast your minds back to the days of the Spanish Armada as the excellent information boards offer a fantastic opportunity to bring history back to life. Imagining just how the impressive features would have been vital to the safety of France's naval defences (much like Blaye was on the Charente Maritime - see full article here)
There's plenty of hidden tunnels (including a hermitage) within the site's remaining features. Interestingly, the Chateau de Leucate is actually a compilation of three successive fortifications which transformed a simple keep into a modern fort (see below reconstruction). Containing a garrison of only 200 men, from these polygonal walls, the garrison famously withheld the onslaught of the Spanish army of more than 14,000 infantrymen, 2,000 cavalrymen and 50 pieces of artillery for over a month! So the perfect place to add to our growing collection of 'Roadschooling History' lessons!
With our historical lesson completed for the day. Nestled at the foot of Canigou, it's also the perfect place for a longer hike...
For active families, there's a 4.3 km trail (max altitude - 52m) following the path along the edge of the cliff at Leucate that connects Port-Leucate and La Franqui. It crosses Cape Leucate, the Cove of Paradise and the Cape of Three Brothers. (click here for more)
Every walk should either end or start with a view so our girls have told us..... and you certainly couldn't fault this amazing panorama vista that allows you to finish your day on a high... It really is one of those places to pack your bags, grab your hiking gear and explore Aude's spectacular scenery and hidden coastal treasures like Leucate.
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