Experience Nature & Culture in the beautiful Occitanie.
LOCAL ATTRACTIONS & ACTIVITIES
So what to do between yoga classes?
We have tried to make Santosha as comfortable as possible, so you are quite welcome just to stay in our tranquil environment. The terraces and garden are at you disposal.
There are many interesting things to see and do around us. Here are just a few of them.
We no longer take groups on day trips, but we point you in the right direction.
GET A MASSAGE WITH GILLIAN
Gillian was a Licensed Massage Therapist in the state of Louisiana, and she offers Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue, or Aromatherapy Massage. She has a diploma in Aromatherapy from the International Institute of Health and Holistic Therapies in the UK (1999), and is Reiki Level II. Please inquire when you arrive.
If it’s a clear evening, a 8 min walk behind Santosha takes you to a high point where there is almost a 360 degree view. A wonderful place to enjoy your evening meal and watch the sunset, hopefully with a pink sky.
Included in your retreat price.
LOCAL WALKING TRAILS
Something to do on while you are not practicing yoga. There are many walking trails around the village that take you through the vineyards, broom and sunflowers. Neil is happy to guide you. Up to 10km. Optional and included in the retreat price.
HERB WALKS AND HERBAL MEDICINE WORKSHOPS
Love nature? Where better to learn about the medicinal virtues of nature than the idyllic south of France in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains.
Niclole had a Bsc (honours) in Herbal Medicine, and has put together a choice of programmes just for us. From 90min to 6.5 hrs and starting from 15€. Minimum amount of persons required. Please inquire when you arrive.
Visit Thyme Breaks for more info.
ESPERAZA SUNDAY MARKET
The most colourful market in the area by far. Local produce such as cheese, honey, bread, and a farmers market, with interesting stalls selling everything from incense and clothes from India, to crystals and musical instruments from all over the world. There are usually 2 or 3 different musicians, and quite often street performers.
RENNES LES CHATEAU
The village that can be seen from our roof terrace. Built on an ancient site of a major Visigoth population centre, the village is famous for the strange wealth and behaviour of the Priest Berenger Sauniere.
20 minutes away and maybe combined with the trip to Esperaza Market.
The remains of these castles can be seen all over the Aude, all of which are worth a visit. Our favourites Queirbus, Peyrepertuse, Puilaurens, Puivert and Montsegur. Small entrance fee. Puilaurens is the closest to us, also La Cite.
The Cathars, were an early Gnostic Christian sect, who ate no animal products (except fish), were non – violent, and very yogic like. Their fascinating history involves persecution as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church, and a crusade against them. The only crusade against other Chritsians, the Cathars were massacred and wiped out by the end of the 14th cent.
>Read more about the Cathar Castles
Local author and historian, Catherine de Courcey, has made an interesting series of short videos about the Cathars. See them here:
Read Catherines new book, available on Amazon in English and French. A beautiful story of that captures the essence of the Cathar community on Montségur before and during the siege of 1243-44.
https://Catherine de Courcey Montsegur at Amazon
RENNES LES BAINS
These thermal springs have been in use for over 2000 years for therapeutic healing. There are areas where the hot springs go direct into the river where you can enjoy the therapeutic waters. There is also a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and a Hammam (steam room) fed directly from the waters (entry charge). 26 minute drive, and can be combined with Mt Bugarach.
Close to the more modern City of Carcassonne, La Cite is the largest of the Cathar Castles and also the largest medieval walled city in Europe. It has been extensively restored in the mid 1800’s and is now a big tourist attraction. Full of history, with its’s large Roman bridge over the river Aude, it’s tiny narrow streets, filled with restaurants and little shops, and beautiful stained glass windows within the 12th century Gothic Basilica of St Nazaire. There are also jousting tournaments during the summer months. 45 mins drive away.
>Read more about La Cite
THE CAVES AT NIAUX
Some of the best prehistoric cave paintings, around 13,500 year old. It is one of the few cave that still allow visitors to enter to view the paintings. This has been one of the most popular excursions among our yoga retreat participants. Only one tour in English per day, so must be booked in advance. 15 euros entrance fee. Approximately 1hr 45min by car.
Read more about the Caves at Niaux
CARCASSONNE MUSIC FESTIVAL
One of the largest festivals in France takes place from mid July to the beginning of August. There are around 120 performances of popular music (French and International) and classical music, dance, theatre and opera. Most performances take place in the auditorium within the walls of La Cite., and more than 2/3 are free. 45 mins away. Tickets must be booked in advance.
>Read more about the festival
Outdoor Adventure Activities
THE GREEN LABYRINTH
RIVER AND OTHER SPORTS
Within easy reach (by car) there is rafting, canyoning, hydrospeed, kayaking, archery and Accrobranche .
Bwtween 20 mins and 1hr 30 mins away. Must be booked in advance.
> Visit https://www.laforgedequillan.fr/
PIC DU BUGARACH
Regarded by many as a sacred mountain, Bugurach can also been seen from our roof terrace. Known as the Upside Down mountain, it is unique in that the newer sedimentary rocks are at the bottom, and the older rocks are on top. There are many legends and mysteries surrounding this mountains as beneath it is a vast network of caverns. It is a 1hr drive and a 2hr climb to the amazing view from the top.
THE ROMAN BRIDGE
THE GORGES DU GALAMUS
Walk or drive though the steep gorges, and climb down to see the Hermitage built into the rocks. River swimming is good here too. Ranked #2 of 126 Attractions in Pyrenees Orientales by Trip Advisor. It is possible to go Canyoning right into the depths of the gorge, but must be booked in advance (approx 50 euros). It is 1hr 15 mins away.