Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Château de Termes

Trip to Aude: Day 2 (Evening)

Leaving behind the beau village of Lagrass, we truly entered 'Cathar Country'... narrow roads winding through craggy, scrubby hill; a landscape littered with ruined chateaus, crumbling fortifications and hidden menace. Of course, the only menace you'll face in modern France is a drunken driver coming the other way. But back in those old days, you could quickly find yourself kidnapped or killed riding through these hills. Some of that still lingers.
A chateau along the way - one of many. This is Château de Durfort, a privatly held chateau, not open to the public. There are any number of such small chateaus in these hills.

Narrow roads winding through scraggy hills... a picture to prove this is not literary exaggeration
It was way past lunchtime when we landed up at the village of Termes, nestling at the foot of it's eponymous chateau. It was a pretty village, with a bubbling brook running though it. It is officially listed as a 'village of character'. One more on my list of beau villages.

The village of Termes, as you enter it.

The River Sou runs through the village
But we had no time for pretty villages or bubbling brooks, what with rats gnawing holes in the lining of our stomachs. We asked around. Not a restaurant or a grocery shop in the village. We were aghast. Luckily, we had some biscuits in the back of the car. After polishing off a pack with a bottle of warm water, we were sufficiently fortified to undertake the long climb up the hill, to the Chateau of Termes.

It takes about twenty minutes to climb the hill, and you have an attractive view of the chateau and the village below as you climb.
Château de Termes looming above the village

A view of the village Termes, as you climb. 

And there we were at last, the Château de Termes, my very first 'Cathar Castle'.

This 13th century castle was a stronghold of the Cathar sympathiser Raimond de Termes. The castle was besieged during the crusades against the Cathers by Simon de Montfort. It was later used as a royal castle, and was part of the circle of defense centered on Carcasson. It was demolished in the 17th Century.

On the way down, we came across this horse farm breeding short-limbed mountain horses. Here are a couple of darling ponies. No idea what breed.

There was a black ass too. Blandine was thrilled. She has a thing about asses. She has a pet ass called Edouard, whom you can see in one of my earlier posts (Cherry Picking). She also has me.
Later, we took a look around the village of Termes, before departing for the next, and most exciting, stage of the journey... wait for the next post.

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