A note: Convalescence is a contrary state. While we may improve, it can take a lot longer to return to many of the things we long to accomplish. Such is the case with this blog. It has been neglected since my surgery and while I continue to improve, I have not been able to explore and record as I would like. Thank you for bearing with me. Today, I had the good fortune of my subject coming to me, more or less. Our local Pompiers (fire-fighters) sponsored today’s vide grenier. Since I have previously posted on a vide grenier, I focus today on the poet and Ambassador to Republique de Montmartre, Linda Bastide.
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.
Deep in the south of France lies Rennes-les-Bains. Ancient Thermal Pools This small village is located at the heart of “Cathar country” in the Corbières. It is located 48 km south of the city of Carcassonne. The area is known for:
* Since Roman times, it has existed as a spa town
* The cure, Abbé Henri Boudet
* Reported links with the Grand Master of the Knights of Templar, Bertrand de Blanchefort
* A setting in the novel Sepulcher
* A mere five-minute drive is the village of Bugarach were the reported portal for the New World is believed to be.
Regardless, it is beautiful place. Even if the baths were not here, it is worthy of a visit.
The benefits of going to a “spa” have been with us for centuries and evidence of their popularity dates back to the time of the Romans. There are over fifty such spa towns in France that are known for their healing qualities. France is one of the countries that still recommend spa treatment as part of available healthcare and are often covered by the individuals medical insurance.
Photos are not allowed inside the baths and they are rather clinical. Regardless, I have never had a better massage and spent the rest of the day luxuriating in the glow.
The village is situated on the river Sals, which gets its name from the fact that it is salt water, which is unusual for an interior river. Rennes is one of many thermal baths and it is in the Languedoc-Roussillon Region.
The spa is modern and utilizes the latest in equipment. You can also bath in the old Roman baths the larger one at 46 degrees Centigrade / 114.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The village also contains a Turkish bath, jacuzzi, gym, and heated outdoor swimming pool.
Despite the fact that we did not have reservations, we were able to book time in the baths and found delightful accommodations a few minutes walk away.
Even on vacation, there can be stress. Do yourself a favor and check out the thermal spas. This is only the second Thermal spa I have visited. Perhaps further discovery is required.