Sunday, February 03, 2019

Castle Afternoon

After our days in Paris and a drive to Southwestern France, I quickly got caught up in teaching to make up for the days I couldn't teach because of travel.
The days seemed to fly past as I would run in the morning (remember, my theory always is that runs help drive out illness, although mine has been determined to hang on), shower and start teaching classes at 11. Once classes were finished around 2:30 or 3, everyone else would be ready for a nap, so my days kind of passed staying inside.
Finally, one afternoon, I said, "Forget this! I could be living in Ohio for as much French life as  I'm getting."
So I asked Earl if we could go visit a nearby castle after I finished teaching, and he, of course, agreed.
I don't know enough history on the Cathars, yet, but I do know that the castles were built within view of each other so one could light a signal fire to alert the next castle, all the way down to Spain.
The Cathars had different beliefs than the Catholic church and were slaughtered by the Catholics in the early 1200s. So when were the castles built? Before then, although some of them might have been rebuilt by the French on the same site in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Peyrepertuse is the only other Cathar castle we have visited.

As you can see from the blurry map, there are plenty to choose, so I picked one that was close by, Puivert, and checked to see if it was open.  Yep, until 5 p.m.
It wasn't a long drive as we wound around above Quillan to Puivert. We got a closer look at the mountaintops sprinkled with snow.
According to those who have been here all winter, Quillan hasn't gotten any snow, even though there are frequent predictions of snow. On the mountains, it's a different story.
I probably should have looked up the history of Puivert before we went, but I expected there would be some literature handed out along with the ticket.
Our view of the castle from below
We parked in a totally empty lot and followed the path up to the entrance. Earl predicted that it was closed since no one else was in the parking lot, but I optimistically figured the workers got to park closer, taking the bumpy dirt and rock path nearby. He was right though. When we got to the entrance, a rope blocked the way and no one was within the ticket booth.
The sign said they were open until 5, but I could imagine the ticket taker on a dreary late-January day deciding around 3 p.m. that no one would be coming and closing shop.
The view from the entrance. 
Although I couldn't tell from this picture, apparently there is a large keep in this castle too. It must have been my vantage point that kept me from seeing the tower at the back of the chateau.

A much better photo from the Cathar Castles website
Since we couldn't go into the castle, we simply slipped under the rope and walked up to the castles doors. I suggested Earl try the door in case it might be open and he mugged for me as if the portcullis was coming down to crush him.
Earl in no danger from the portcullis above
After we returned home, I looked up some information on time, and it sounds like there is a lot of interesting stuff within the castle. Many times, they are merely shells, but this one even has statues in the keep.
So this was a Medieval Cathar castle that was overtaken by Catholics in a 3-day battle. Apparently, it was a place where troubadours gathered before the take over. It was rebuilt by the French in the 14th and 15th centuries. There's also a story that Dame Blanche who lived in the castle wanted to be able to enjoy the lake shore so workers began to make changes to the dam, which resulted in the dam breaking and destroying part of the Medieval city Mirepoix. Lots of interesting information about this castle, even though we were closed out.
One of the towers. Apparently, there are 8.
Someday, maybe when it's sunny, we'll be back to see the inside.

Castle selfie
We didn't get the view from within the castle, but here is a mountain beyond with part of the castle wall.
I had hoped for a panoramic picture inside the castle, but had to settle for this
view of the snow-dusted mountain with a bit of the castle wall in the picture. 
If you read my previous blog, you might be feeling bad for me that I'm shivering in my French garret, but remember, if I stop kvetching, I can see some pretty amazing things around me.


Noreen said...

Built prior to 1200's? Rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries? And there they continue to stand! It's quite mind-blowing, don't you think?

Paulita said...

Noreen, Absolutely. I wonder why we can't build things that will last that long, especially when I see all those orange barrels on the highway in the States.

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