Travel in Languedoc France: France gite vacation rentals, Carcassonne France hotels, Cathar castles

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Travel Article on Carcassonne, France - Peyrepertuse, France - Cathar Ruins

Three Cathar Castles - Carcassonne, France

Excerpt from Ockham's Razor - Part 7
by Wade Rowland

The Carcassonne in the Sky - Cathar Country On the road once again, the air-conditioning mercifully blasting away, we followed the twisting, bucking route upward towards Peyrepertuse, the largest of the Cathar ruins, sometimes called "Carcassonne in the Sky" for its long curtain wall and half-round towers. There are actually two fortresses here on the same razor-backed outcropping, the lower fort shaped like the prow of a ship, and Chateau St. Georges on a still more precipitous height at about eight hundred metres, sixty metres above the lower fortifications. Together they comprise more than three hundred metres of continuous fortifications and from certain angles resemble a sky-high section of the Great Wall of China.


Southern France Languedoc region Cathar castles In this exclusive excerpt from Ockham's Razor: A Search for Wonder in an Age of Doubt, author Wade Rowland, his wife Christine, and their two teenagers explore the romantic ruins of Cathar castles in southern France's Languedoc region.

By the time we had negotiated the narrow path along the side of the nearly sheer north face of the peak to the entrance gate, we were bathed in sweat and feeling the results of our day's exertions. We gave the lower castle, its chapel and keep a thorough going-over and admired views no less awe-inspiring than those at Puilaurens and Quèrebus; in fact, Quèrebus was in plain view to the south, and I wondered what form of signaling had been used between the two garrisons: flags, perhaps, and mirrors.

Typically, frontier forts like these would have been occupied by as few as half a dozen knights: it must have been just about the least attractive military duty on earth. Even for a Prairie lad like myself, it is difficult to imagine the severity of the winters in these eagles' nests where, even in summer, a squall will sweep the parapets clean. We had learned from site staff at the parking lot below that just a day earlier a German tourist who had spurned advice to descend when a thunderstorm approached, had been struck by lightning and killed.

Simon asked an interesting question: What would be the modern military equivalent of one of these fortresses in the sky?

I thought at first of an aircraft carrier, probably because of the ship-like outlines of Peyrepertuse, and the notion of a heavily defended staging platform for attack sorties. But on reflection, they probably had more in common with the spy satellite, looking down from an inaccessible height on the ant-like creatures going through the motions of daily life on the plains below. Then again, though, there was their role as a sanctuary of last resort, something that does not exist in the modern world of thermonuclear weapons.

In this, Peyrepertuse and Quèrebus, like the others, had ultimately failed. Peyrepertuse surrendered to a crusading army in 1240, four years before Montsègur fell; Quèrebus held out until 1255, the last military bastion of Catharism on the planet. There is no record of the fate of the Cathars inside; it seems probable they were allowed to go free in the full knowledge that they were unlikely to escape the long arm of the Inquisition, wherever in Europe they might flee.

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World Travel Guide .com - Travel article about travel in Languedoc-Roussillon France: long-term vacation rentals in France, gite rentals, Carcassonne France hotels, Cathar castles, and essential advice for travel in France and worldwide travel.

In this World Travel Guide .com exclusive excerpt from Ockham's Razor, the author Wade Rowland and his family explore the romantic ruins of Cathar castles in southern France's Languedoc region.


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