Aude

 

 

 

 
 

3 Epis Gites de France

Aude chambre d'hote pres Carcassone et Cathars

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Tourist attractions in the Aude:

Queribus

Quéribus was a well known and feared fortress long before the bloody persecution of the Cathars, and it was one of the last of their strongholds to hold out against the Albigensian crusade. It's so high and isolated that from a distance it stands out on the horizon like a finger pointing at the sky, it stands on top of the highest peak for miles around. It's very accessible to the visitor as you can drive to it, but the entrance to the castle itself is very steep and narrow – a defensive measure against invaders. After the end of the Albigensian Crusade in the 13th century, Quéribus, along with Peyrepertuse, Puilaurens, Aguilar and Termes, were vital fortresses protecting the French border with Aragon (Spain).

G.P.S. Co-Ordinates 42° 50' 3" North - 2° 37' 21" East - 730 metres. Phone number: 04 68 45 03 69. Opening times: In April and October of 9.30am to 18.30pm. May, June and September 9.30am to 7pm. July and August 9am to 8pm and any other time from 10am to 5pm. Closed all of February.

 

Closest village: Maury: Population 1000.

 

 

Puivert

Phone : + 04 68 20 81 52 Fax : + 04 68 20 81 52 - Opening times: April 1 to September 30. 8am to 8pm - October 1 to 31 March from 10am to 5pm

Of all the Cathares castles, Castle Puivert is one of the best preserved. It was built in the 14th century. With its 35 meters high keep in which four splendid rooms are superimposed, its 6 towers incorporated in its enclosure wall, this castle dominates the old glacial lake of Puivert below which is nice for a swim on a hot summers day. One of the rooms in the keep has very nice carvings of 8 characters with medieval musical instruments on its walls. You can climb to the top of the keep which offers a great view on the Quercorb plain to north, to the west of Castle Montségur with the summits of the Pyrenees behind it and to the east of the peak of Bugarach. In 1210 the castle was taken after a 3-day siege by the army of Simon de Montfort controlled by Pons de Bruyères. This is a great castle ruin and its immense courtyard must have seen great tournaments. It's a little out of the way for most tourists so you can quite often have the place all to yourself.

Picture by Ellie Clemens a local artist.

 

Peyrepertuse

Phone: + 33 4 68 45 40 55 Opening times: February to April 10am to 6pm. May to June and September 10am to 7pm. July and August 9am to 8pm. October to December 10am to 6pm.

A little history, The castle lies on a 730 meter high rock and when the weather is clear you can see the Mediterranean sea from it. People have been living on the site of castle Peyrepertuse since Roman times. The castle is first mentioned in 1050. During its existence it has had its share of warfare. It was involved in the Crusades and the Inquisition because of its occupancy by cathars. Also its position on the border of medieval France and the kingdom of Aragon (present day Spain) contributed to a lot of bloodshed. It's a large castle spread out over a rocky ridge at the feet of the Pyrenees. A bit more of a strenuous climb to this one but well worth it.

 

 

Arques

 

This keep, which was used as a living quarters since the late 1200s, stands inside a quadrangular wall. Built of a golden sandstone, the main keep features a number of arrow slits, and a very odd arrangement of corner towers, each mounted on a hollow base. The upper floors are constructed in a less refined fashion than the lower, indicating that these floors were hurried in their construction. The entire tower is open to the public, for a minor fee. Arques is about a 15 minute drive from Esperaza.

 

Montsegur

 

Perched upon a 1207 meters high rock, called Pog, stands castle Montsegur. It was built in the first half of the 13th century but the rock had probably been inhabited for many centuries before. At the base of the rock lies the small village of Montsegur. The castle is very famous for it's long and bloody history. It stands at the heart of the history of Catharism. This was a religious movement, connected with the Templar Knights during the Crusades, which had separated itself from the catholic church much to the anger of the pope and the catholic french king; Louis IX. In 1244, during the Inquisition, the castle became the last stronghold of the cathars. It was besieged and when the castle finally surrendered due to lack of food after 10 months of siege the crusaders offered the Cathars a choice; repent or be burned. 200 chose the latter and died at the stake. Furthermore there are a lot of mysteries connected with this castle. It is said to be the last known residence of the Holy Grail. According to legend the Grail, together with other treasures of the cathars, was smuggled out of the castle by two women during the siege in 1244 after which it was never seen again. A likely resting place may be Rennes le Chateau. Also it is thought that the castle may have been a place were sun worship took place. This because the keep and its windows are aligned in such a way that during the summer solstice the first rays of sunlight shine in through the windows on one side, through the keep and out of the windows on the other side. Whatever its history, the castle itself is beautifully located with magnificent views to the surrounding mountains and valleys. To visit the castle you've got to bring your walking boots because it's a 45 minutes long and rough climb from the visitor parking lot.

 

Lastours

North of Carcassonne Lastours is actually 5 castles, 4 of which are left standing. Cabaret(the most complete), Tour Regine, Surdespine and Quertinheux.Built on the summit of a 300 m high rocky ridge, at equal distances from each other, this location ensured complete control over one of the main incoming routes to Cabardès and the Montagne Noire (Black Mountain) with a dominating view over the Orbiel river and the Grésilhou torrent. Access to the châteaux is from the heart of Lastours village via the former Rabier factory, a sheet manufacturer. Until the middle of 20th century the factory manufactured textiles prior to its conversion to the tourist trade. Today, the space next to the former oven and chimney is now a permanent exhibition center, tourist shop, ticket office and restaurant. There is also another good restaurant in the village of Lastours.

 

Puylaurens

This famous Cathar castle, not be confused with Puilaurens in the departement of Tam, is mentioned as far back as the Tenth Century. In the 13th, it belonged to the Lords of Fenouillet. Defended by Pierre Catala and, more importantly, by Guillaume de Peyrepertuse, it withstood attack by Simon de Montfort and his successors until the end of the crusades. After 1243, its owner was Roger Catala, Pierre's son, but it was defended, like Quéribus, by Chabert de Barbaira, a Cathar military commander who was the last person to defend the Occitan cause. Numerous Cathar deacons sought refuge here after the fall of Montsegur. It is thought that the castle was finally forced to surrender (probably around the same time as Queribus) c.1255. At the end of the 13th Century, Puylaurens became, with Peyrepertuse, Quéribus, Aguilar and Termes, one of the « Five Sons of Carcassonne », royal fortresses protecting the frontier between France and Spain. The castle, which is open to the public, resembles an impressive stone crown perched on the bare skull of a spur of rock above the Boulzare Valley and the village of Lapradelle. After a short walk, you cross the barbican protecting the entrance and find yourself in a vast courtyard surrounded by tall walls flanked by two round towers. To the left of the courtyard is a second line of fortifications defending the keep. Two towers strengthen this wall, including the «White Lady » tower named after the lady who haunts the ruins (Blanche of Bourbon, Philip the Fair's grand-daughter who stayed in Puilaurens and was murdered by her husband, Peter the Cruel, King of Castile). The massive square keep crushes by its sheer weight a castle that is one of the best preserved reminders of the Cathar period in the area. With the impressive system of defence and the numerous underground passageways, the remains of the castle date from the 12th and 13th Centuries. Some of the 11th century sections can still be seen.

 

 

Carcassonne La Cite

 

 

 

 

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7 Rue Elie Sermet, Esperaza, Aude, Languedoc Roussillon, France.

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