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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Carcassonne and the Cathar castles

Yesterday we spent some time in the medieval town of Carcassonne. It sits on a slight rise above the river Aude, overlooking the valley and mountains beyond. the first historic evidence of this city can be traced back to the 8th century B.C., when it was a simple enclosed town surrounded by an earthen wall. Later it was moved slightly and occupied by various people including the Celtic tribe known as the Tectosage Volques who seemed to be responsible for naming it Carcasso. A lot of history remains between that time and today but it is too much to include in this blog. The buildings have undergone extensive renovation and it is touristy but still interesting with some intact Roman towers and a beautiful church with amazing stained glass windows.

 After leaving here we drove down narrow roads leading to an old Cathar castle called Puylaurens. It belonged to Chabert de  Babaira, a Cathar who defended it until he was forced to give up in 1256. Later it became part of the defensive system along the Spanish border. The day was gray and misty and by the time we arrived the people at the gate had gone home for the day. An aura of mystery accompanied the misty twilight as Jim and I gazed up at the massive edifice. In the car later I read that it is said to be haunted by a certain "Dame Blanche", which seemed quite apt. When I tried to find info.  on this mysterious woman everything was in french!

The drive back to Ceret was beautiful with the odd twilight remaining until nearly seven in the evening.


  1. It's so great to be following your adventures. And I'm a sucker for any type of castle.

  2. thanks for commenting, Stephen--it's good to know someone is reading the blog! I love castles too, especially really old ones that are said to be haunted...

  3. Kate Mosse's book Labrynth is based on Cathars and Carcassonne. A more serious book, perhaps, is Stephen O'Shea's 'The Friar of Carcassonne. I don't, know, Nikki, but you may find them interesting reads now that you've been there.

  4. Wow! What amazing pictures! I am so jealous. It sounds like you had an amazing time and I love castles and this looks beautiful!

    I found you through Book Blogs and signed up to follow you. When you have a chance- please stop by and follow the blog for my middle grade novel that I am hoping to get published. http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

    Take care-
    Jess- although I may show up as Fairday, the main character from my novel. I can't figure out why that happens and I can't fix it. :)

  5. Loving the blog Nikki! Sounds like an amazing trip you are on, looking forward to hearing more!