Aude (11160) Population: 1,660 Altitude: 176 m
Caunes-Minervois is an ancient village centered around an 8th-century abbey, sitting beside the Argent Double river where it comes down out of a Black Mountain valley and onto the plains.
For visiting, Caunes-Minervois has some pretty bridges, a Medieval old-town with narrow streets and ancient houses, fountains, lavoirs and, of course, the 8th-century Benedictine Abbey. A possibly more important attraction for visitors are the several very good restaurants in the village.
There's a beautiful red marble in this area, that was quarried here by the Romans and through Medieval times. The marble can be seen around the town, in building materials and sculptures scattered just about everywhere [horse-head photo].
For cafés in town, we liked the Grand Fountain Bar and Xxxx Hotel, with its shady terrace around the obelisk fountain, in the center of the village.
Just down the Rue d'Aiguebelle from the café is the Jean Christophe Aterous wine shop, located in a cool, dark Medieval room where you can do wine tasting hosted by the elderly and very active nth-generation representative of the winery.
Although Caunes-Minervois has some cafés and its several excellent restaurants, there isn't much in the way of shopping available. For groceries, there's the ubiquitous bakery (boulangerie), and we found a nice, but very little "epicerie" (grocery store) up in the old town on Rue de la Charité.