96 Rue Saint-Martin, Limoux
We had nowhere to stay and it was late, around 7.30pm, when we arrived in Limoux. But the Hotel Moderne et Pigeon had been recommended so we weren’t too bothered. We weren’t bothered until we took against the rather uppity, couldn’t care less attitude of the receptionist who more or less told us if we didn’t book in there and then we could forget it. So we forgot it and decided to take our chances elsewhere. There wasn’t a lot of choice of accommodation in Limoux but we ended up with an absolute dream of an apartment at Hotel Les Arcades on the main square… at a better price than the pompous Pigeon.
Many visitors to this area of France head to Carcassonne. But a knowledgeable friend steered us away from Carcassonne and into Limoux. Carcassonne might be the prettier town, but Limoux feels more real and doesn’t suffer from dilution by an overload of coach excursions. It’s an interesting enough town on the River Aude with a nice mix of atmospheric restaurants and stereotypical French cafés for the obligatory croissant. The Hotel Les Arcades, at a corner of Place de la République, looks the part with a small restaurant/café attached which always seems to have an old guy sitting looking for answers in the bottom of his cup… even when it was closed. Hotel Les Arcades was a good base for exploring the area, the tranquillity of Limoux being a welcome contrast to Carcassonne’s overdose of daytrippers.
There are mixed reviews for the Hotel Les Arcades and it’s easy to figure out why. The first room we were showed above the bar was far too basic with quite depressing décor. It was only when we said ‘non’ that the apartments next door came up. What a contrast. Chic, modern and sexy with loads of room and a view beyond the church next door down one of the old streets. The bedroom is big and comfortable; the bathroom modern with an attractive coffee and chocolate colour scheme; the kitchen is decently equipped and sleek, opening up to a lounge area with a chunky dining table, sofa and flat screen TV. There is wifi throughout and a bonus are the electronic blinds. Limoux is hardly a bouncing town after dark, so the apartment was perfect for a post dinner chillout with a bottle of vin rouge from the excellent L’Atelier des Vignerons next door.
The hotel’s restaurant is clearly convenient for breakfast but as you’re on the main square you’ve got a choice of places to enjoy le petit déjeuner. Les Arcades’ strength, apart from the seriously comfortable apartments, is that is ideally located for just about anything, especially the wine shop mentioned before. The best restaurants are a short walk across the square. There is often a small market on the square for when you fancy ‘cooking in’. There’s also parking behind the church and beside the river, so not far to drag the cases.
If you want someone fawning over you, Hotel Les Arcades isn’t the place. We found the staff and owners friendly but we didn’t really see them apart from when we booked in and when we left. It suited us as we liked the feeling of having our own French apartment for a few days.
Hotel Les Arcades;196 Rue Saint-Martin, Limoux; tel: +33 468 310 257; double rooms cost from around €49 per night, apartments from €70.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+