•Aude (11190) • Population: 59 • Altitude: 271 m
The little village of Serres (Aude) 6 km east of Couiza is quite pretty, with a lovely stone hump-backed bridge crossing the little Rialsesse river beside the center.
Serres village sits on the D613 road, but it's decorated with many colorful flowers and some tall shade trees along the main route. On the river side, the ancient cobblestone-surfaced bridge has wide graceful arches and the banks of the stream are lined with wild flowers.
There's a natural east-west valley from Couiza, past Coustaussa, Cassaignes, Serres and Arques. It's the Sals river that passes Coustaussa and flows into the Aude at Couiza. But the Sals makes an abrupt 90-degree bend just west of Serres, where it flows down from Rennes-les-Bains, due south. Past Serres, the lovely little Rialsesse river continues down the valley from Arques and the low hills further east.
A high river-bank walkway along the Rialsesse is wide, grass covered and shaded by a mass of overhanging trees. A truly lovely place to be on a summer day.
There's no commerce in this small village, and we stopped for a visit on a Sunday, and just about mid-day to boot, so it was very, very quiet. [Photo-4 of the main street] shows an apparently abandonded tabac shop at the far left (notice the vertical double-cone sign above the door).
The village of Serres actually hosts a local theatre (the acting kind, not the movies) [photo of the Serres theatre].
The 15th-century chateau of Serres (photo) looks more like a big (but old) house than a medieval castle. There are chateau-style grounds beyond the main building, but all private.
South of Serres the land rises up into forested hills, complete with hiking trails. Along the north side the land is lower and more open, rising gradually past vineyards to distant forests.
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• GPS: 42.947388, 2.323682
IGN (1/25,000) #2347 OT "Quillan, Alet-les-Bains"
In Serres, as in most of the other villages of the area, there are large panels with maps showing the different trails for hiking, cycling and horseback riding.
The "circuit des Terres rouges" is a 5 hour loop hike that circles north of the village. This begins with a grassy path along the river [photo-6] to the east, then loops north and west, passing through the hamlet villages of Peyrolles and Cassaignes.
The "Tour du Cardou" and "Circuit de la Méridienne" is a 3-hour loop in the forested hills south of Serres. The tour circles the low peak (795 m) called Pech Cardou, with a side up-and-back leg to the top. The western side of the loop follows along the Sals river valley.