Cathar Country Chateaux

It was a nice weekend, so we took a little Saturday drive down south, to the departement of Ariege. This area has beaucoup de monuments Cathars. The most famous would be the ruins of Montsegur, which we have visited more than once.

But figuring that we’ve ‘been there, done that’ in re Montsegur, we decided to visit a different place or two.

Our first stop was the Chateau de Roquefixade, perched on top of a cliff above the little town of the same name. There is written evidence that a chateau has been at this place since at least 1034, meaning that it will soon be coming up on its millenial celebration. After we parked the car and got out, we looked up at our destination and each of us thought (or said out loud), “We gotta get up there?”

Good thing La Famille Newman is in such outstanding shape.

It was a steep climb, but we made it. Once we reached the ruins of the chateau, we met a couple of German ladies who heard us talking in English and spoke to us in the same language (German not being a language in which any of us have any facility). Although it didn’t really figure in the Cruades against the Cathars, they did seek and find refuge here from time to time.
After we climbed around some of the fence-free, danger-enhanced area, we made our way back down, where we went to the local gite (a FR BnB) for drinks and popsicles (or whatever they’re called in FR). To see more pix of Roquefixade, click here.
Seeing that the day was relatively young, we decided to go visit another chateau. So this time we headed to a place about a 30-minute drive from Roquefixade: the Chateau de Puivert. This castle, dating back to at least the 12th C, has Cathar ties: the lords were Cathars and in 1210, it was subject to a three-day siege. It fell.

View from the courtyard.

The scenery was fantastic: Sunflowers fields in the valley below were in bloom and I got to see gliders in action for the first time in my life as two of them were towed into the sky by a prop plane using a dirt airstrip in the valley.

The castle is privately owned these days – a man’s home is his castle and all that – and some movies have been filmed there as well, notably the Johnny Depp feature, ‘The Ninth Gate,’ directed by, um, Roman Polanski.

To see more pix of Chateau de Puivert, just click here.

Next time, I think we’ll go see the chateau at Peyreperteuse, which is supposed to have outstanding views.




About skinsphins

The stories of a 'never out of the country until we moved to France' American.
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