Tourist attractions in the Aude:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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7 Rue Elie Sermet, Esperaza, Aude, Languedoc Roussillon, France.