•Aude (11400) • Population: 11,876 • Altitude: 165 m
This ancient market town in the southern part of Languedoc-Roussillon is the capital of cassoulet stew and the capital of the Lauragais area. A large basin and the locks of the Canal du Midi here give the inland Castelnaudary a seaside feeling.
Castelnaudary is about 50 km southeast of Toulouse and 50 km northwest of Carcassonne. The autoroute passes close-by, making access quite easy. The most beautiful way to access Castelnaudary, however, is by boat on the Canal du Midi.
The Moulin de Cugarel is an intact and restored 17th-century windmill. Typical of the 32 mills built here with the arrival of Riquet's canal, the Cugarel was in use until 1921.
The top and roof (capelado) of the mill rotates, with a gear mechanism controlled by the miller to keep the 7-m long sails directed into the wind. The mill was restored in 1962, with complete with working interior. The giant millstones were turned at 60 revolutions per minute, producing three 50-kg sacks of flour per hour.
The mill is open for visits during July and August.
Canal du Midi Castelnaudary
The Canal du Midi, begun in 1672 by Pierre-Paul Riquet, who made Castelnaudary a main canal port, with its largest turning basin. The 7-hectare basin helps make the town a main stopping point for travelers on the canal, and boat rental is available here. Castelnaudary was considered the only large port between Toulouse and the Mediterranean sea.
History of Castelnaudary
First record, 1103 Castellum Novum Arri Meaning Château-neuf-des-Aryens, or Arri's new castle
Gallo-Roman: A Gallo-Roman villa was discovered at L'Estambigou, an area at the eastern edge of town.
Medieval: Castelnaudary was a strategic fortified town during the crusades against the Carthars in Languedoc. In 1211, Castelnaudary was captured by Cathars in 1121 it was retaken by Simon IV de Montfort, Count of Toulouse.
In 1355, during the 100 Years War, Castelnaudary was burnt down by the Black Prince, son of the English king Edward III. In 1477 Castelnaudary became the capital of Lauragais. In 1553 Catherine de Medicis became Countess of Lauragais and made the county a seneschal, and the old castle became the presidial.
• GPS: 43.318508, 1.953714
IGN (1/25,000) #2445 O "Castelnaudary"