Friday, May 18, 2012

Carcassonne and the Cathars.

Last night before dinner we caught up with our hosts Josianne and Lou Lou. Although it was back in 2008 since we were there, we have kept occasionally in touch as we had such a great time. They invited us to a "drink of friendship" which was repeated on this visit to St Remy. The difference this time was that we seemed to be even more welcome to their home if that is at all possible.
Josianne and Sue (old friends) with Lou Lou, Carly and Sharn.
(bad photo but good friends)
Dinner was at a great restaurant last night and by chance it was the same one we ate at in 2008. Its called L'Olivade. Great food and great value at 109 euro for four including wine. We've decided to go back for our last night at St Remy with other friends from Australia who are staying after we leave.

Today we ventured off to Carcassonne's Medieval City overlooking the modern town. The girls had read the book Labyrinth by Kate Moss which is based on the ancient fortress town. We thought they would like to see it. The Tollways make the trip from Provence to the Languedoc easy travelling at 120 to 130 kph. We covered the 250 kms in less than 3 hours.

Although Carcassonne does have a bit of Disneyland about it, I'm fascinated by its early history and the Cathar people that populated the area. During the 13th Century the Cathars were considered heretics by the Catholic Papacy and a systematic war was waged against them to the end of their religion and rocky outcrop villages.

With the need to learn more, I purchased a book, "Understanding the Tragedy of the Cathars" which I can't wait to start reading.

Saint Nazaire Basilica
One of the gargoyles protecting Saint Nazaire.
The key player, Simon de Montfort led crusades against the Cathars raising the village of Minerve and massacring 1000s at Beziers.
This crusade went on over period of twenty years and the ruins of Cathar strongholds can be seen in many parts of the Languedoc.

The Roman's fortified the site around 100BC although I read that the region's first sign of settlement dated back to 3000BC. Wikipedia gives some great feedback on the Cathars, Carcassonne and the players within the crusades.

After leaving Carcassonne, we took an overnight stop at Narbonne, another favourite city of ours in the region. The Languedoc has so much to offer in history, food and wine.

While our girls were exploring the castle within Carcassonne, Sue and I sat watching the passing parade.
I must have been getting bored because I started taking photos of the canine variety. There really were some interesting sights. It was our dog day afternoon (with apologies to Al Pacino).

Tomorrow is our last full day in Saint Remy - Dinner with friends and on Saturday morning is the beginning of a three day drive to the Loire for a four day stay.


  1. I hope you guys can make it some day to Pau and the Basque country. Then there is Spain... So many places to see, so little time. I love the pictures of the dogs.

    1. Both have been on our list for some time Nadege. We had Spain as part of our meanderings but seem to come back to France each time.
      Dogs are an interesting part of France, aren't they?

  2. Great parade of dogs :-)
    We've visited Carcasonne quite a few times and been to other Cathar places as well. Carcasonne can be a bit Disney-ish [so much has been restored] but then any self respecting medieval fair held there would have been full of cheap food stalls, relic sellers and all sorts of other tat-mongers as well :-) "Plus ca change...."

    Please bring some sun with you up here to the Loire!

    1. I agree about the Disneyland comment but I think everyone should visit it if in the area. Some of the other Cathar strongholds are great to visit. We especially enjoyed Minerve.
      As I sit typing at a cafe here in St Remy the Mistral has gone and the morning sun is shining as we take off to Orange and eventually the Loire.

  3. Another place that we both want to visit.... sigh... so much to see! The little dog second from the bottom looks just like a little dog that I saved many years ago after a car accident. He only had three legs and was called Niki Lauda. Diane

    1. Sound like the day is drawing close now that you and Nigel need to rent the mobile home and start exploring France.
      Our favourite dog was a "Bar Dog" - the Briard. Its nature was very much in nature like our poor departed Murphy, an Irish Wolf hound.
      See you in a few days.

  4. Hi from Melbourne in OZ. I am looking to see if there is a church today that follows the Cathars style of thought. If not, which religion would be the closest to it?



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