Montolieu is a commune in Occitania (France), Aude department, located 20 minutes northwest of Carcassonne and 45 minutes from Toulouse.

Historically and culturally, the town is part of the Montagne Noire, a mountain massif constituting the southern edge of the Massif Central. Exposed to a Mediterranean climate, it is drained by the Dure, the Rougeanne, the Pesquier stream and various other small rivers. The town has a remarkable natural heritage: a Natura 2000 site (the “Lampy valley”) and five natural areas of ecological, fauna and flora interest.

The name comes from two words – mountain and olives, which means “Olive Mountain”. Olive trees, as well as cypresses, cacti and flowering shrubs, scatter the landscape.

Montolieu has been the only “village of books” in the south of France for the past 30 years.

There are 16 bookstores and workshops where you can learn the art of binding and become acquainted with book craft. These studios are mostly located in charming old houses.

The book village is a favourite place for artists.

The village regularly hosts art exhibitions and graffiti contests, fairs and salons, poetic evenings and narrating contests, as well as meetings for contemporary writers and contemporary artists.

Sculptors and photographers also gather here.

This place might never have been called a “book village”, if not for the charisma and enthusiasm of the Belgian man, Michel Braibant, who settled in Carcassonne and was familiar with the “book towns” concept in other European cities.

It was he, who opened the Museum of Arts and Book Crafts (Musée des Arts & Métiers du Livre) in 1991 to preserve the memory of book artisans and tell the world about this profession. Michel Braibant opened the museum using his own savings and donations. Here is situated la Coopérative – Musée Cérès Francoart museum.


We highly recommend this place for book collectors, bibliophiles, art and culture lovers, as well as tourists who like to stroll through the “ruins of books”. It is here that you can buy rare secondhand books, as well as old and modern books, original editions, books with unusual bindings, and small pocketbooks. The assortment includes books on humanities, science fiction, history, cooking, esotericism, comics, photography, art, travel, surrealism, chess, military literature, adventure, nature, and books for schoolchildren…

Every visitor will be able to find a book to suit their taste here.

Tourism, sights and main attractions

Montolieu also houses the old royal textile factory (Ancienne manufacture royale à Montolieu) building. Among other attractions is Saint Andre’s Catholic Church (l’église Saint-André); it has been a historical monument since 1972. You can see the Madonna and Child statue in the church.

The Montolieu cross is another interesting site to visit.

The Alzeau River flows at the foot of the village. An 18th-century 30-metre long bridge connects the two banks. There is a magnificent view from the hilltop, which is where you can also find Saint-Roch. There is a 6 km trail around the hill which is an excellent route for the whole family to enjoy.

Cuisine and restaurants

MAISON DE MALLAST is located in the very center of Montolieu. The restaurant serves French seasonal dishes. Guests can dine in the peaceful garden or on the terrace next to the 13th-century house on sunny days. Their wine list offers wines exclusively from the Occitania region.

L’APOSTROPHE is located in an idyllic setting in the former factory. The restaurant is decorated in a vintage style. The chef cooks traditional or original dishes, depending on his mood; he gives free rein to his imagination on guests’ plates. His cuisine is a subtle mix of world cuisine based on local products. The restaurant has a bar and lounge area. There is live music played here regularly in the high season.

LA TABLE NOMADE is a buffet restaurant. It is a famous venue for birthdays, weddings, and hosting dinners for large companies. They offer vegetarian, meat, and fish dishes. There are also many French cheese varieties to try.

The tea room, THE AND CO (pets allowed), is where you can drink a cup of real large-leaf tea and try dishes made from organic products.

CASQUETTE ET CHAPEAU is a cozy bar-restaurant-tea room, located on church square. It has a small shady terrace overlooking the fountain. They serve traditional and gourmet dishes.

How to get to?

From Paris: 7 hr 58 min (764 km) via A20

From Toulouse: 1 hr 12 min (88.2 km) via A61

From Andorra: 2 hr 52 min (175 km) via N20

From Barcelona: 3 hr 32 min (326 km) via AP-7 and A9

From Madrid: 9 hr 6 min (884 km) via A-1 and A64

From Monaco: 5 hr 9 min (515 km) via A8 and A9

From Moscow: 37 hr (3,440 km) via E30/M1

From Belgrade: 18 hr 18 min (1,819 km) via E70

From Istanbul: 28 hr (2,768 km) via E70

From Bern: 7 hr 35 min (773 km) via A9

Main information

Area: 23 km2

Population: 828

Coordinates: 43°18′36″N 2°12′57″E

Language: French

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

See here Pyrenees travel guide

See here France travel guide

See here Spain travel guide

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