Did You Know About This Quaint Village Of Books In France?

Built on a peninsula overlooking the Alzeau and Dure valleys, Montolieu has been designated as the 'Village of Books' for the past couple of decades due to its abundance of bookstores
Montolieu has been designated as the 'Village of Books'
Montolieu has been designated as the 'Village of Books'Zuccante Luigi / Shutterstock.com

Montolieu is a charming town in the lovely Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. The village dates several centuries as evidenced by some prehistoric remnants such as Guittard's menhir and cupule stones. The village's name translates as "Mount of Olives," and it was built on a peninsula overlooking the Alzeau and Dure valleys. Montolieu has been officially designated as the 'Village of Books' for the past couple of decades due to its abundance of bookstores.

A Dream Destination For Bookworms

Stroll along the streets of Montolieu and you will feel like you are in a giant library. There are about 18 bookshops here that sell new, rare, and used books. There is even a book and printing museum with a large collection of antique printing machines, old documents, and font types. In one of the bookshops, they can find a rare book or even sell an old book, a special edition of a comic, a poster, or a 19th century newspaper. This is nirvana for bibliophiles, essentially.

Walk through the quaint lanes of the village
Walk through the quaint lanes of the villageAntoni Serrano/Flickr Commons

Art In The Heart

Montolieu is also an arts and crafts hub. Several artists, designers, glassblowers, and photographers have set up shop here. Explore the works of art in one of the many galleries, pay a visit to a painter's studio, or attend a workshop, check out the Musée des Arts & Métiers du Livre, and the Coopérative - Musée Cérès Franco. Pause and enjoy a lunch on a restaurant's terrace. And don't miss the Michel Braibant Museum, which has book-related arts and crafts and covers the history of the book from the beginning of writing to the major achievements of typography and printing. Montolieu book craftsmen offer hands-on, instructive workshops in typography, calligraphy, illumination, etching, bookbinding, and illustration.

Montolieu, the village of books and arts
Montolieu, the village of books and arts@puttyland/Instagram

Around Montelieu

There's lots to do in and around this charming town. Stroll through the streets, visit the church of Saint-André, explore the former Royal Manufacturer of woollen cloth and its factory, and take in the view from Place de l'Espérou. Relax beside the river Alzeau, enjoy the stunning 18th-century bridge that crosses it. There are many elements to discover here, such as stunning fountains and structures with beautiful colombage woodwork, all centred around a large church that dominates the middle of Montolieu. The best view across the village is from the bridge as you approach from Revel, where you can see the church and village above the valley below.

Ancient Trees

Climb the hill to the chapelle Saint-Roch (located at the car park as you enter Montolieu from Carcassonne) to see a magnificent panorama, a mysterious chapel, and some cypress trees, some of which are over a century old and classified as arbres remarquables, or outstanding trees.

The ancient abbey
The ancient abbeyFranck Grenier/Flickr Commons

A Historic Abbey

The Cistercian Abbey of Villelongue (about 6 kilometres from Montolieu) is located 20 kilometres from Carcassonne's Cité and 10 kilometres from the Canal du Midi, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Aude department.

Events To Bookmark

An old and second-hand book fair takes place in Montolieu during Easter weekend. In April, the town hosts the World Days of Art. In July, you can attend the Pages de Jazz Festival. The 'Aude aux arts' event takes place in August. And in October, a Comic Book Festival takes place here.

Where To Stay

There are several great budget and upscale accommodation options available in the town from Maison de Mallast to the La Forge de Montolieu, a former industrial site which has lakeside views.

Getting There

The nearest airport to Montolieu is Carcassonne (CCF). You can take a bus from Carcassonne (CCF) to Montolieu via Davilla.

Be A Sustainable Traveller

To ensure a sustainable trip to Montolieu, prioritise eco-friendly transport like public transit or carpooling, select certified green accommodations supporting local businesses, and buy from local artisans. Respect nature by following trails, minimising waste, and avoiding single-use plastics. Engage in eco-friendly activities such as hiking and learning about the area's cultural heritage. Conserve resources in accommodations, choose local and seasonal foods, and practice the "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra.

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