Château de Puilaurens: climb up to the dizzy heights of the citadel!
château de Puilaurens
Perched high on a rock
When you arrive from Quillan, the road tapers, and the narrow gorges give the landscape a wild and fascinating atmosphere. After a few bends in the forest road, Puilaurens Castle looms up before you on its steep rock! The outline of the crenallations and towers stand out against the sun. The effect is amazing! The mountain landscape conveys power and serenity.
You pull on your hiking shoes to make your way up. The climb takes about 30 minutes. Children always enjoy trying to identify the plants and trees beside the shaded path.
REPLAY THE CATHAR HISTORY
The children love it!
You can go up at your own pace. Then at last you see the first stones of the citadel! At the foot of the barbican, the impressive fortified steps climb upwards in a zigzag, with the ramparts and towers at the top. The journey back in time begins.
Everything happens quickly, the children take up the defence of the castle and rain down imaginary arrows on the enemy. The parents launch the attack, moving forward level by level. You dodge from side to side, and all the euphoria of a medieval battle takes hold! The zigzagged system designed to defend access to the castle is spectacular. The parents finally admit defeat and declare victory to the defenders. The fortress is impregnable!
During the Crusade against the Albigensians, Puilaurens Castle hosted the exiled and heretic nobility. Along with Quéribus, this was one of the Cathars' last refuges. Saint Louis took possession of Puilaurens in 1255, at the same time as Quéribus. He had the fortress strengthened with defensive towers and chicanes… Strong walls were added to the active defences to oppose the nearby power of Aragon!
An authentic setting
We are looking forward to seeing the inside of this mysterious castle! Once through the vaulted gate, you arrive in the main courtyard. The walls and towers are filled with history and marked by the passing of time. This is no Disney-style castle!
The fortress dates from the 11th and 13th centuries and is well preserved. It is easy to imagine Puilaurens as it once was, with the wooden rampart walk, the access staircase, the floor and even the flags flying in the wind on top of the towers.
FIND THE SECRET PASSAGE
Leading to the dizzying panorama
You will see it at the rear of the courtyard. The archway leads to the panorama. The view is breathtaking. Like a medieval lookout, from this aerial view you can see all the valley below: the village, mountains, forests, rocks and cliffs all combine to form an incredible landscape.
The crenelated ramparts look down on the steep cliffs. A dizzying sight... The castle's defensive position is incredibly impressive. Keep an eye on the children, the rocks are slippery.
Puilaurens is one of eight castles included in the candidature for "UNESCO World Heritage" status. It's also well worth visiting the castles in the Cité de Carcassonne, Aguilar, Lastours, Montségur, Peyrepertuse, Quéribus and Termes.
Puilaurens, A WONDERFUL PLAYGROUND
Back to the Middle Ages
The visit continues with the castle keep. The narrow, winding, intersecting corridors are a wonderful playground for anyone who is still a child at heart. Take the time to look around, investigating all the mysterious nooks and crannies and searching for the "secret" passages and details.
These beautiful stones take us back to the medieval era. When you look out through an arrow slit, you can almost see the miller coming up to the castle with his mule and his freshly baked bread.
Lots of fun guaranteed with the children. A chance to learn all about castle machicolations.
Tips for hikers ...
The Cathar Trail links the castles in Cathar Country, with 250 km and 12 stages, from the Mediterranean Sea to Foix in Ariège.
The White Lady of Puilaurens
When the rising mist begins to engulf the castle, an almost mystical atmosphere emerges. With your head in the clouds, the magic can really take effect!
Is this the White Lady who, according to legend, comes at night in her misty veils to the half-ruined rampart walk?
We love this castle. It is a wonderful place to visit again and again!
Legend has it that the White Lady sometimes makes an appearance in a castle tower on winter nights. Our old stones preserve the memory of Philip IV's great niece, Blanche of Bourbon, the unhappy wife of Peter the Cruel. She is said to have taken refuge in our mountains to escape from her terrible husband…
Where to sleep and eat, what to do?
CAMPING MOULIN DU PONT D'ALIES
CHAMBRES D'HOTES D'AYGUES-BONNES - CHAMBRE BLANCHE
The castle is near the town of Lapradelle-Puilaurens (Aude).
- By car: from Carcassonne, Quillan and Axat, from the west: take the D118, then the D117. One and a half hours from Carcassonne. From Perpignan and St Paul de Fenouillet from the east: take the RD 117. One and a half hours from Perpignan.
- On foot (hiking): the château is on the Cathar Trail