The Lake, known as Le Lac de la Ganguise or also known as Le Lac de L’Estrade lies in the Aude department in the Languedoc Roussillon region almost midway between Villefranche de Lauragais and Castelnaudary and 2 kilometers from the village of Baraigne.
The road leading up to the Ganguise from Avignonet winds across the top of the ridge which gives a great view across the plain to Avignonet Lauragais and all the way over to the Pyreness.
The lake was built between 1977 and 1979 to provide irrigation water for the cereal farming that is the main agricultural staple of the region and covers a total area of 400 hectares – 6 kilometers long and about 3 Km wide, holding an amazing 25 million cubic meters of water and depths reaching 26 meters.
The lake is a great site for sports, such as sailing, windsurfing, walking, canoeing, fishing, swimming and mountain biking.
There are some excellent and well-marked cycle and walking paths circle the lake and the surrounding countryside – there are a number of rare birds too, including kingfishers, grey herons, egrets, whistling ducks, great crested grebes, cormorants, and white herons.
Amazingly, the lake is not that well known so even on the hottest days it is fairly easy to find a private place on the lake beaches for swimming, a barbecue or a picnic.
It is a great place for fishermen with carp running to 26+ Kilos and big bream for the connoisseurs.
There are activities and places of interest for all ages – the area is steeped in history and it is all on the doorstep.
The canal du Midi passes by at less that 4 kilometers from here, with its excellent pathways for walking, roller-blading or cycling.
The village of Belflou is just a stone’s throw down the road, inhabited since prehistoric times and created as a village in Gallo-Roman times.
In the 12th century, it was a fortified site, called “Valflor” – valley of the flowers, and also known as Saint FÃ©lix de LanÃ¨s – “LanÃ¨s” being an occitan word meaning flat land – there is a village a couple of kilometers down the road towards gardouch called St Michel de LanÃ¨s – well worth a visit for the magnificent church (we will be blogging about it at a later date).
Belflou was a sanctuary for the local Cathares during the 12th century, which naturally attracted the attention of Simon de Montfort.
In the 14th century the King, Philippe le Bel gave the chÃ¢teau to the Fontaines family, who were in place up to the French Revolution – today it is a private residence.
there is a small church in the village which is worth a visit, if you go have a look at what is at the foot of the statue of St Francis – remind you of Rennes Le ChÃ¢teau?
Leaving Belflou, turn right and continue for a couple of kilometers to the hamlet of Milhas – have a look at the ruined church and the stunning view across the lake to Baraignes.
Before going to the curiously named village of CuniÃ¨s, where you can see the old fortifications and traditional Lauragais wall bell tower.
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