Ginoles & Quillan

The name of the village may come from the Occitan “ginol”, meaning “knee”, referring to the rocky spur on which the village rests and takes its form, integrating into the landscape. 

Due to its sunny position, the early fruit and vegetables in Ginoles have an excellent reputation as do the olives from the olive groves which thrive in its micro-climate. Carts full of fruit and vegetables leave, during the night, for the markets in Camurac and Lavelenet. 

In the 19th century, Ginoles prospered due to the opening of a thermal spa, accommodating 500 people each year who came to have treatments from the two thermal sources.


Today, 360 inhabitants enjoy the gentle lifestyle in this village where the the peacefulness and pleasant hiking paths are appreciated by visitors and its proximity to Quillan, only a 10 min downhill walk away, gives access to a host of outdoor activities, shops and restaurants.


According to local lore, the town takes it's name from the  "Trois Quilles"  (the Three Skittles) - the three pointed hills to the east of Quillan. Built all along the river, originally the  Atax, and now called the Aude, Quillan is strategically placed at the cross roads between the Pays de Sault (Plateau at 1000m altitude) to the west, the Fenouillèdes to the south and the town of Carcassonne and her region to the north.

The first mention of the Town in history books is in the 10th century, when the "liege lords"  were the bishops of Narbonne, who also built the castle here in the 12th century.   Also starting in the 12th century, a large new village was built around the Castle on the left bank of the River Aude,  with a maze of streets that can still be seen today..

At the beginning of the 14th century the bishops had a mill built, overhanging the castle, but this no longer exists. The town was enclosed by high walls and a moat - created by diverting a part of the river - but these measures of security were not enough to protect the town during the religious wars: The Town and the castle changed hands frequently between the Catholics and the Protestants/ When the wars were over, the town started to rebuild it's prosperity.

At the beginning of the 20th century close to 135 000 felt hats were being made each year in the town.  The diligence of the factory owner - who was also the President of the local rugby club -  allowed Quillan to rise through the ranks and become the Champions of French Rugby  and to add their names to the prized  Brennus Shield in 1929.  Despite it's excellent reputation and the quality of the produce, the factory declined after the ending of the Second World War, when hats became less fashionable, and finally closed in the early 1950's

In 1952 the world renowned Formica took over the disused hat factory and continued the tradition of industry in Quillan right up until early in the 21st century.

Today, thanks to the amazing diverse environment surrounding Quillan, and to the many possible outdoor activities in the area, the town is concentrating on expanding the "Green" Tourism: rambling, cycling, horse riding, climbing,  rafting, canoeing, kayaking and rafting. Quillan is a stop over point for the Tour de France each year.

Adapted from