The little town of Alet-les-Bains is located at the foot of the Haute-Vallee de l’Aude, a few kilometers south of Limoux, halfway between Limoux and Couiza.
Surrounded by ramparts and rich with superb mansions dating from the 13th to the 19th century, its mineral water industry is booming. You will find a very inviting and dynamic tourist office.
Steeped in history, Alet-les-Bains (“Electra” for the Romans) reaches back to antiquity, as its vestiges of roman ruins such as the columbarium can attest.
The quality of its waters together with its strategic location might explain numerous occupations of the city’s past.
One of the viscounts Bera, from a family coming from Rhedae (currently Rennes-les-Bains, the historic capital of Razes), built there an abbey around the year 813 A.D. It can be first traced in 12th century texts as a powerful seat, reigning on large domains and hosting numerous pilgrims. During the war against the Cathars, the abbey underwent many painful and mysterious episodes.
It successfully pulled through, thanks to its transformation into a Bishop’s palace in the 14th century, with a view to pursuing the struggle against the Albigeoise heresy.
The town remained a bishopry from 1318 to the Revolution but, in the mean time, suffered from the Crusades against the Albigeois together with the religious wars, as the destruction of the Cathedral by the Huguenots in 1573 can attest it. It was never built again but the bishops stayed in Alet until the very last days before the French Revolution.
Today, the cloisters and the monasteries, formerly located where the gardens of the Hostellerie are currently, have totally disappeared. However, the superb chapter house as well as the impressive church attests to the wealth of what used to be one of the biggest abbeys of the region.
A visit to this ancient bishopry, where, as legend has it, alchemists and kabbalists of medieval Europe once lived, will only leave you with pleasant memories.