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The bike path along the Canal Du Midi is unpaved but in good condition. Starting at about KM 182 on the map above, the bicycle path becomes very bad, all the way into Capestang. This section is also lacking trees.
Continue cycling along the south bank of the Canal Du Midi.
Capestang Bridge, KM 189. The lowest bridge on the entire Canal Du Midi. Watching boats squeeze through here is always a pleasure! Some boaters, however, claim that the Marengo bridge in Carcassonne is the lowest. Capestang Bridge
Capestang has been occupied since the Paleolithic age. Like all other areas along the Canal Du Midi, evidence of Roman settlements have been found here as well, such as villas. In the Middle Ages the village was surrounded by a salt water lake, the Etang de Capestang. From the 12th century, the village, surrounded by ramparts, was equipped with a collegiate church and a château, the summer residence of the Archbishops of Narbonne. The plagues of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries transform this place into a "village tomb".
In antiquity, the nearby marshes were crossed by a 1500 metre long bridge, the Roman Pont Serme. The bridge carried the Via Domitia (Roman road) as it neared Narbonne on its southward journey to Spain. Nothing remains of this ancient bridge. The town's name derives from caput stagnum - referring to the fact that the town sat at the head of a large etang (a large natural saline and shallow lake - very common in the area and the source of wealth and sustenance - salt, fish, game birds.) This etang, and all others around this area, were part of the ancient delta created by the Aude River. Over time they filled up with sediments from this same river. During heavy rains these ancient etangs are prone to flooding. The remaining marsh lands are now classified as a Natura-2000 site, and are great for bird watching. (link for more info)
Brother Clément of Puisserguier grew and gave his name to a tasty new variety of fruit -“the clementine”
This Gothic monument of the end of the 13th century is accentuated by a non-existent nave. It was constructed on top of an Roman worship building. Just like the cathedral in Narbonne, this church is also unfinished. The reason for it never having been finished are plural, including flooding, plague, and war. Its bell tower is 45 meters high and can be visited, allowing for great photographs. Its stained glass windows date from the late 19th century. Its altar is a bit older, dating from the 18th century, and is made with the red marble found in Caunes-Minervois (close to Carcassonne).
The Tourist Office of the Canal du Midi organizes visits of the church, including the climbing of the bell tower on top of which you can taste some local wines!
Tours are held from April to October at 5 pm and 6:30 pm accompanied by a bilingual guide. Information: 04.67.37.85.29. Entrance fee. Fridays/ Saturdays/Sundays and public holidays.
On other days, a visit can be organized for groups of 10 people or more by appointment.
First construction started in the 12th century, and the building expanded over time as the Archbishop's power grew. After the crusades against the Cathars, the Archbishop of Narbonne became the sole ruler of Capestang, and this château was one of 18 he had around Narbonne. It was at this time that the great hall was build, on top of an older building (1237-1270). A few centuries later, the great hall's ceilings were decorated with paintings and these have recently been opened to the public. These paintings date from the 15th century.
Open from mid-June to the end of September from 10 am to 7 pm
Off season: 10am to 12pm and 3pm to 6pm
Capestang: Wednesday and Sunday morning from 7AM to 1PM on the main square in front of the church. Food and products.
Capestang: Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday morning from 7AM to 1PM, in the hall of the covert market. Fruit, vegetables, fish.
Quarante: Wednesday and Friday from 8AM to 12PM, in front of the church.
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