Rennes le Chateau and the mystery surrounding parish priest Berenger Sauniere and how he got the tremendous sums of money needed to refurbish his church and grounds have been booted under the tourist's radar by such recent books as The Da Vinci Code. Sauniere seems to have spent a better part of his life leaving clues to his sudden wealth. Think you can find an overlooked one? Or even the treasure itself?
Well, why not visit Rennes le Chateau and see?
There is no mystery to visiting Rennes le Chateau. It is located in the Aude department of the Languedoc-Roussillon region near the Aude river south of Carcassonne. The closest village is Couiza. Just south of Couiza is the village of Esperanza with lodging and services as well as a fine Sunday market.
- By Car: From Carcassonne take the D118 towards Limoux until you get to Couiza, then the D52 to Rennes le Chateau.
- By Train: You can take a train or bus from the station at Carcassonne to the Couiza-Montazels station. From there you can likely get a taxi in Couiza to take you to Rennes le Chateau.
- Taxi Hoste: 04 68 74 25 36. It is possible to walk to Rennes Le Chateau from Couiza.
Tourism Offices in Rennes le Chateau
SYNDICAT D'INITIATIVE Rennes le Chateau
Grande Rue des Thermes
Telephone : 04.68.69.88.04
The Berenger Sauniere Center
Located in the northwest quarter of Rennes le Chateau, the major site, called the Berenger Sauniere Center, is open from 10 am to 7 pm from the first of May through September 15, with shorter hours the rest of the year.
This is what you've come to see. After you visit the church, you can buy a ticket that includes visits to the Presbytery where Sauniere lived, the Villa Bethania, the Magdala Tower, and Gardens. There are annotations in English throughout. A visit should take 1 to 2 hours.
There is a good bookstore in town with many books on Rennes le Chateau, some in English.
It's called the Atelier Empreinte (Tel: 04 68 74 26 71)
The Château des Ducs de Joyeuses in Couiza is a wonderful and evocative hotel interior in a chateau built between 1540 and 1550 but now fitted with modern services including wireless internet access.
If you'd like to save money, the nearby Maison Riviere Bed and Breakfast will astound you with its value.
If you prefer the countryside, and it's a great countryside to explore, HomeAway offers many Limoux area Vacation Rentals. To be near Rennes le Chateau, choose lodging near Couiza.
Other Sites in the Vicinity
You're smack in the heart of Cathar Country. Visiting several of the castles is mandatory for castle aficionados. Limoux, just to the north, is the center of Blanquette de Limoux, a fine sparkling wine, and has many fine restaurants and tasting rooms. Our favorite restaurant turned out to be Maison de la Blanquette (Tel: 04 68 31 01 63). Limoux also hosts the Piano Museum near the train station, a collection of pianos from the 19th century to the present. Esperanza, just south of Rennes Le Chateau, hosts a hat and a dinosaur museum.