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Friday, July 15, 2011

The castle of Peyrepertuse—Duilhac, France

The village of Duilhac used to be the centre for olive oil production in the valley—the valley was once filled with olive trees, now, it is filled with grapes for vin. The town itself has been occupied since Roman times 1st C BC.

The Castle above the town is Peyrepertuse and was first mentioned in written history in 1070 AD.  It towers 800 m above the grape vines on limestone cliffs. Peyrepertuse is also a Cathare castle. It’s Cathare occupants falling to the French Crusades in 1255 when their water supply was cut off and dysentery ensued.

 It was an active castle until 1820 when the fleeing nobles sold it to France. It is actually two castles, a lower castle and a higher castle. King Louis (Saint Louis) of France ordered the construction of steps to the higher castle in 1242.
We walked up those very steps to reach the upper castle. One can see its neighboring Cathare castle, Queribus from both Peypertuse castles.

One of the most fascinating things I discovered in the castle was a toilet. Yes, the very first toilet I have ever even heard of in a 11th C castle—history books never mention such things. The seat is made of stone and it opens to an alarming drop with mountain shrubs far below. A round bottom was necessary as one would not want to slip through that toilet seat!

The Cathare castles, to this day, remain shrouded in mystery. Some believe Montsegur Castle contained the Holy Grail. In 1242 AD, 2 men (one, the Deacon of Toulouse—which was the most influential Cathare city at the time) were seen carrying the treasure from the castle.

We spent a magical and an unbelievable morning exploring The Castle of Peyrepertuse.

Peyrepertuse Castle
Climbing up to the castles through the trees.
Inside the lower castle front entrance.
The lower castle.
An 11th Century Castle toilet
The toilet seat--the bars were on placed recently so small-bottomed tourists don't slip to their death.
View of entire toilet room.

View of the Pyrenees through a castle window.


Still inside the lower castle.
Queen Mix Hart.
King Arthur.
Lower castle interior.
Inside the upper castle.
Rooms inside the upper castle.
I asked Peter to photograph me in the room behind me but as I entered I discovered something with black wings flying about: either a very large black moth or a small bat.


Queen of the castle.
View of upper Castle from lower Castle.
The Pyrenees Valley below castle.


Climbing the King (Saint) Louis steps.

View of lower castle.
Pausing on King Louis steps--view of lower castle behind me.
Peter on the King Louis steps--the other side of the railing is straight down 800 m.
Entering the upper castle.
800 m from the valley below!
King Louis steps leading to the upper castle--yes, the ones we climbed and paused for photo shoots on!
The town of Duilhac below the castles.
View of lower castle from upper castle.

Upper castle window seat.

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