Situated in the Aude valley and surrounded by mountains is the lovely town of Alet-les-Bains. It is approximately thirty kilometers south of Carcassonne and an hour east of the Mediterranean Sea and well into the “Pays Cathare”.
Once, Alet-les-Bains was a walled city. It had its own abbey, bishop and cathedral. All of this was fortified by ramparts and a moat in 1197. Today, it is a quiet village of five hundred but the remnants of its glorious past remain. You can still walk among the ruins of a medieval Jewish ghetto.
The natural springs remain and water from the springs is bottled and sold commercially. Yet, if you know and plan ahead, there is a spring fed fountain near the old spa where you can fill up any bottles you might have and there is no charge. The town has been famous for its thermal waters since Roman times. Today, the spas are closed. A victim to these hard financial times, the funds for badly needed restoration and changes that would bring it up to date are not available.
Despite closure of the spa, there are well preserved ruins that are well worth a visit. Many “belles demeures à colombages” or half-timbered houses, grace the steets. The medieval square features traditional medieval houses and one of these in which it is believed that Nostradamus had lived. Also among the ruins are a 12th century cathedral, the Episcopal Palace, the 14th century Chapter House, the Medieval town and more.
The natural springs were well known in ancient times attracting the Romans who had seized much of the lands. It is reported that Nostradamus and Charlemagne took the waters here. One of the oldest of bottled waters in France, it has been available for purchase for over 120 years. Furthermore, The French Ministry of Health recognized its intrinsic worth bestowing offical authorization to bottle the spring water back in 1886.
Bonne année, bonne santé et bisous!