It was a very relaxing holiday; nice to discover a part of France full of History but completely unknown to most. I also got to spend some lovely time with my family. Shame this year due to University my niece Chloe couldn't joined us so this time only 4 Dubuis girlies.
I will try not to write too much as the pictures should hopefully talk for themselves
Saturday 8th September
So little zombie me (well inferno and straight to airport might not have been the cleverest idea) arrived in Carcassonne airport on Saturday lunchtime and was collected by my mum, sister and baby niece Adelaide.
First stop was a quick visit to the beautiful medieval city of Carcassonne, very touristy and every shop full of gargoyles and dragons. Too soon we had to go and pick up the keys for our little cottage in the middle of some organic vineyard and farm.
Then in true Dubuis style...it was the usual drop suitcase, get change and of to some party quite far away near Toulouse.
Not my type of party as I hate gypsy king and the rest of salsa, crappy music played all night…and I was so tired….for once I was the moody sitting down one.
That night we slept over in some friend of friend mini castle and I got to have my first croissant breakfast in fab surrounding….
Sunday 9th September:
Few stops by flowery roads and one our way to Albi.
Sainte Cécile cathedral, is claimed to be the world's largest brick construction, it's a very strange mixture one bit is a fortress like cathedral the other a beautiful lace like gothic entry.
Austere, defensive exterior meets sumptuous interior decoration.
Interesting start to our Cathars adventure as it was built as a statement of the Christian faith after the upheavals of the Cathars heresy.
Next to the cathedral there was the Bishop Palace now Toulouse Lautrec Museum but due to a little creature tantrum a museum tour was not a good idea so instead we walk about the city and its beautiful view of the gardens and river Tarns.
One boat trip and a cloister later the first day had ended.
Monday 10th September
Rennes le château
Well everyone who know me now that I am crazy about all my secret grail and occult conspiracy theory/mystery books, so this was a place I had always dreamt of going.
Weird little tiny medieval village where everything relates around what treasure did the priest found. A heaven of books, devil figurines and they even have comics about him…. Rennes-le-Château it is a bit like a mini centre of conspiracy theories full of claims that the priest Saunière had uncovered hidden treasure and/or secrets about the history of the Church, which could potentially threaten the foundations of Catholicism. The area has become the focus of increasingly sensational claims including the Knights Templar, the Priory of Sion, the Rex Deus, the Holy Grail, the treasures of the Temple of Solomon, the Ark of the Covenant, ley lines, and sacred geometry alignments.(wiki)
Apart from all the wonderful alternative theories of treasures and secrets you can visit the priest mini castle and his library tower. (Not bad for a little local priest) and the famous Church of Mary Magdalene renovated by Sauniere.
Controversial and interesting holy water sculpture is the demon: Asmodeus.
bookless library in the tower
his own little weird private church in his house
devil with holy water above as you enter the church
Picnic at the feet of the too dangerous and inaccessible castle of Coustaussa (google photo)
Then finally we visit our first Cathars castle.
The Castle of Peyrepertuse
Ruined fortress settled in the high reliefs of the Hautes Corbières, Peyrepertuse peaks at 800 metres altitude, surrounded by the garrigue and overhanging the little village of Duillac.
The path to climb the castle is not the easiest as very slippery or just the highest type of step. Quite a little adventure with me helping my mum and my sister carrying Adelaide. But well worth it when at the top.
Very long and stunning view from one part to the next.
Adelaide is ready to go...
Stunning views from one end of the castle to the next
After ward we went to see the Chateau de Queribus but it was too late to visit, still photos had to be taken.
Look at this sky (around 7pm) and no photoshop involved whatsoever)
Little halt in the Limoux cave to degust and purchase a few bottles of their famous Blanquette (sweet champagne)
Chateau of Puivert
This building, on top a hill overhanging the village and its lake, reaches and altitude of 605 m, the one with the least walking to do … so happy us.
It is still in relatively good condition. One room has fine carvings of minstrels alongside medieval music instrument as it was highly frequented by troubadours.
Fountain de Fontestorbes
Lunch stop and an opportunity to clean ice cream off Adelaide and to go walk about in the freezing water and little cave.
Chateau de Monsegur
This was the most impressive to see from below especially when setting up on a long walk up.
The ruins of Montségur are perched at a precarious 1207 m altitude.
It was the last strongholds of the Cathars and it was besieged by 10,000 royal Catholic French troops at the end of the Albigensian Crusade.
Approximately 220 were burned en masse in a bonfire at the foot of the pog when they refused to renounce their faith.
Fascinating place, quite a walk up though forest and rocks.
We reached the top!!
The end of the day was done relaxing with a well needed drink and ice cream in Mirepoix and extremely pretty medieval Town with beautiful cover place and their 14th Century Maison des Consuls.
Some of the overhanging arcades have exposed beams and from these there are approximately 150 individually carved wooden heads. Those wooden gargoyles like figures were fantastic. Every pub had great gargoyle and medieval imagery.
The cathedral of St-Maurice, was also a very gothic and gargoyle full.