are two typical Alsatian towns. The architecture, is fairytale, meets living history, with the added benefit of French dessert! There are little towns like these scattered all over Alsace, exploring, (note Jupiter near clock tower) and eating, here is a delightful way to spend your days! Cheers to you from beautiful Alsace~
Once again I am spirited back to the foyer in my little village. Tonights event is Châtaignes and a presentation. Fresh roasted Chestnuts. The evening was sponsored by the village association and for a fee, read fundraiser, of five euros, you had a presentation of restoration work and archeology on the village Château topped off with tables covered with hot, freshly roasted chestnuts, red and white wine and neighbours and friends. What more could one ask for?
As the presentation finished, tables quickly appeared and were covered with newspapers then large containers filled with Châtaignes right off the fire. Naturally bottles of wine were on the tables and magically your glass refilled.
Friends and new friends were gathered around the tables enjoying the spread and company! I had eaten chestnuts once back when living in New York City. However, they were burned, lukewarm and tasted as if they were stale but re-heated. After that, I
had no further interest in Chestnuts, that is until I moved to France. That first chestnut quickly surrendered its cracked and willing shell. Warm, soft and nutty deliciousness melted in my mouth. One was not enough and there was no need for dinner this evening.
Another word for Châtaignes, chestnuts, is Marron. As you travel around France you will see vendors selling crêpes. One of the menu options will be Marron and it is a spread made from the chestnut. It can be used on crêpes in pastries of even on plain toast and it is delicious.
Surrounded on three sides by a deep ravine, the castle appears to be floating when you reach the summit and look out windows or doors. You can only access it from the south. The north door provides a sheer drop and not recommended.
While much of the structure has been destroyed, there is still a great deal to see and experience.
The donjon or main tower is no longer standing and the perimeter walls are seriously damaged you can see the form of several rooms and have the most amazing views from remaining doors and windows. The south-west corner, destroyed, has been replaced by a later building. In the south-east corner lies the remains of an access ramp and gate with what appears to have been a water tank.
The western side is marked by a rectangular construction whose vaulted ceiling has caved in. This wall was part of the castle chapel. There remains an opening in the shape of a cross. The chronicles of the crusaders record this castle as an advanced fortified city. As it stands, little remains of date back to before the crusade and what is visible is attributed to the later XIIIth century or beginning of the XIVth century. Demolition was order by Louis XIII in 1635.
With restoration planning under way, it is thrilling to think of what discoveries and treasures will be brought to light.
Château Termes was first mentioned in records in 1061 in reference to Olivier Bernard. The village and castle wasunder the protection of the Lords of Termenés.
Their power over this ancient district in the feudal era emerging at the beginning of the XI century.
Their allegiance was to the Trencavels, Viscounts for Carcassonne-Béziers. Characteristics of the castle were documented in 1163. In an effort to settle a disagreement between brothers, Guillaume and Raymond de Termes, segments of the Château were appropriated to each. This allowed each of the brothers to append the structure of various portions of the wall. Records also mention the construction of the church below the château in the village. This same church is the present village church and that would place its beginning in the second half of the XII century. From the inception of the Cathar Crusade, Château Termes was under siege. Due to the need of regulating the Christian faith and the foundation of doctrine. Distressed over the spread of the Cathar religion, the church began to eradicate the heretics. Cathars were also known as Bons Hommes (good men) and Bonnes Femmes (good women) but were referred to by Rome as Albigensians. This was part of the effort to mystify the people of the region believed to protect them. The Church was determined not to just stem the growth of Catharism but to eradicate it altogether.
In 1209 the first Holy war in Europe was initiated by Pope Innocent III. The Cathar or Albigensian Crusade was aimed at the nobility of Southern France who were viewed as protectors of the heretics. The battle raged on for twenty years. In 1229 The King of France moved to intervene. His offering of the Count of Toulouse . Despite the horrific slaughter, along the path of the crusaders, the religious Cathars flourished.
Simon de Montford accuses Raymond de Termes of heresy and declares war on the castle. The siege last four months resulting in the imprisonment of Raymond de Termes in Carcassonne and the property returned to the French crown.
Olivier de Termes, son of Raymond, defied the royal armies in 1228 and this siege lasted until 1240 becoming companion-in-arms to King Louis IX. Becoming part of the stronghold guarding the frontier with Aragon. For four centuries, the castle was occupied by a royal garrison.
The castle walls were demolished by a master stone-mason using explosive charges in 1653 and again in 1654 operating under orders by the King.
The site remained abandoned until the XXth century. Now property of the Touring Club of France it became common property with its protective measures. The hill where the castle stood became classified as a site in 1942 with the castle ruins not being listed until 1951 and later classified as a historical monument in 1989.
Le Château d’ Aguilar rises in the Cathar country, ensconced in a landscape of aromatic garrigue vegetation. A stark contrast to the order of the Haut Fitou vineyards. Set on the rock like a crown, the castle looks over the village of Tuchan. The first mention of Puy Aguilar appeared in the testament of the Count of Besalù in 1020.
Possession of The Château fell under the auspices of vassals of the Trencavel family. The crusade to eradicate the Cathars began in 1209 lasting until 1255. At the conclusion of this inquisition, the castle was property of the King of France. Ownership was bestowed to Olivier de Termes as a reward for services rendered in the Holy Land.
In 1258, the castle was brought into service in defending the French-Aragon border. In 1260 the castle was integrated info the royal domain by The King of France, Louis IX and became a royal fortress.
The castle is composted of two hexagonal walls. One composed of two rooms (upper and lower) and constructed in the 12th century. The lower floor was designated for the guards and light came through the vaulted narrow windows. The upper floor served as home to the castle keeper.
The outer hexagonal wall added in the 14th century and is flanked by six semi-circular towers to impede invading armies. Outside its curtained walls to the east stands the Romanesque chapel of St. Anne.
A traditional Romanesque chapel dedicated to St Anne stands on the outside of the curtain-wall, on the eastern side. The castle and the surrounding area obtained status as a Historical Monument in 1949.
Information is available in several languages at the bureau located at the foot of the trail. You can purchase books and postcards or grab a bottle of water. The castle is currently undergoing repairs and excavation to the subterranean levels which have long been inaccessible.