“The art of reading is the art of thinking with a little help”, – Émile Faguet
(“L’art de lire, c’est l’art de penser avec un peu d’aide”, – Émile Faguet)
Montolieu is a commune in Occitania (France), located 20 minutes northwest of Carcassonne and 45 minutes from Toulouse. 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 there?
From Carcassonne (18 km) – via N113, D6113, D629, D148
From Toulouse – (90 km) – via A61 (paid), D533, D33, D8, D629
From Andorra – 175 km – along CG-2, N22, N20, D12, D119, D206, D6, D625, D119, D4, D533, D33, D8, D629, D148