Panier of Plenty

Pays Cathare (Cathar Country)

Le Château de Puilaurens (circa 985), Les Fenouillèdes

Château de Puilaurens

Château de Puilaurens

The ascent

The ascent

My visit to the ‘Cathar’ château Puilaurens could not have been more impromptu, or dramatic, after fleeing rain in nearby Quillan. I was heading back south when I decided to take the turn-off to the château that had caught my eye earlier, visible above the village of Lapradelle-Puilaurens. As I ascended the mountain, a few souls were on the descent as heavy clouds loomed and the sky darkened.

Walking up through the forest

Walking up through the forest

Approaching 700metres

Nearly 700 metres above sea level

The tower looms

The tower

Coming the the entrance

Coming the the entrance

Looking South

Looking South

Château interior

Château interior

Sky deepens

Sky deepens

Highest point of ruins

Highest point of ruins

Storm arriving

Storm arriving

When I reached the highest point of the ruins, a wind suddenly stirred the air and the ‘eye of the storm’ drew near. As chance would have it, a tower was at hand (I later found out it was the only roofed shelter in the entire château). I watched sheets of horizontal rain drench steep pine-forested slopes through an arrow slit, transported back in time as I waited for the tempest to abate. Grateful to be protected from the elements, I wondered about the story behind tower’s name plaque; I felt imprisoned, sensing a longing to join the trees that could only be glimpsed from this gloomy interior.

Emerging into daylight, I read the information panel for ‘La Tour de La Dame Blanche’: Blanche de Bourbon, Queen of Spain (1339-1361) was imprisoned (in another castle, Arévalo, then the town of Medina Sidonia) and then ordered to be assassinated by her husband ‘Le Roi Castille Pierre le Cruel’.

Today she offered shelter, and shared a vision that made me ‘appreciate my liberty’ as I admired the panoramic view and ‘flew above the peaks’ before making my way down the well-trodden path…

Rain clearing

Rain clearing

View changing

View changing

Leaving the interior

Inside the walls

Les Pyrénées, view towards Canigou

Les Pyrénées, view towards Canigou

Valley below

Valley below

On the official website I have since discovered the following: Une légende rapporte que la Dame Blanche, petite nièce de Philippe le Bel, vient pendant les pâles nuits, promener ses vaporeux voiles sur le chemin de ronde des remparts démantelés.

The tourist brochure states that it is forbidden to visit during thunderstorms. I was wearing white (blanche) as I had not been prepared for the change in weather, leaving Céret on a sunny 27°C morning.

Advertisements
This entry was published on August 8, 2015 at 10:38 pm. It’s filed under Adventure, Antipodean, Architecture, Climate Change, Country Life, Cultural Creative, Culture and Arts, Environment, Europe, Ex Advertising Creative, Expat, Forest, France, French Culture, Healing, Hiking, History, Holiday, Landscape, Language, Languedoc Roussillon, Leisure, Life, Lifestyle, Living in France, Nature, New Zealander in France, Photography, Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Randonnées, Rural Life, Seasons, South of France, Spain, Summer, Thoughts, Tourism, Travel, Vacance, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Pays Cathare (Cathar Country)

  1. mesarapugs on said:

    What a dramatic excursion! Very evocative 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: