We parked at Le Somail, a tiny village about half an hour from Carcassonne, leashed the manic dogs and set off on a circular walk - or actually more elongated-triangular taking in the village of Salles' D'Aude about half way round. Odd name - seems to translate as 'the rooms of the Aude', but maybe means something else . . .
A perfect winter day for walking - sunshine, no wind, and no other dogs about to provoke stress-inducing barking episodes. Sadly quite a few of the plane trees that grace the canal banks have been cut (due to some malignant tree-pest), the dates off their executions marked in red on each trunk's sawn base.
About an hour into the walk the planes stop as the coastal influence starts and elegant pines appear - Alep, or umbrella, I'm not sure, but just the most beautiful trees.
We ate an appalling picnic (laughing cow cheese, white bread and chocolate mousse) and enjoyed the sun as it winked through the waving river grasses, then slightly more wearily continued on past rotting boats and gleaming cared-for boats and turned right into the village which was completely deserted except for a few cats sitting about. The last section of the walk was through open fields with distant views of crinkly brown mountains; still no one about, and apart from an occasional farting moped or misplaced gull, complete and wonderful silence surrounded us.