The first defensive fortifications begin on the approach to the entrance, where you must climb through nine switchbacks. At each 180 degree turn in the assault, assuming you were attacking the castle, you would be assailed with arrows from above. In the photo, Nancy and Eileen round a switchback about midway through the climb. And below, Nancy's silhouette (a good French word) appears in the first defensible gate.
There were many places for the defenders of the chateau to pour boiling oil, drop rocks, and rain down arrows though arrow slits as the attackers worked to power though a stout wooden gate. Below is one of the defensive towers, which used to have several floors and a roof, but which now gives a lovely view of the sky.
Below is the view out of the south "poterne", down to the south east off towards Perpignan. I had never seen the word poterne used in connection with castle openings before, but lo and behold, Nancy and I spent a day and night in the English village of Poterne, not too far from the Cotswolds. What is the connection between the French word poterne and the English village? Will one of our informed readers please clue us in below in the comment section?
I did not recognize the contraption below as a latrine, but it is marked as such in the literature they hand out as you enter the chateau. I remember very clearly the latrine in Peyrepertuse, and it's function was unmistakable; bars over a hole at very comfortable seated height, and the drop into oblivion that would remove the flies and odors to an agreeable distance. But this latrine was a little more obscure. And remember kids, click on 'em to enlarge 'em.
I will now plagiarize from wikipedia to give you a little insight on the history of the chateau, and if you want to know more, you can always do the google:
Puilaurens was ceded to the French some time before 1255. After 1258 its possession by the French crown was ratified by the Treaty of Corbeil, when the Aragonese border was moved south. In 1260, it was garrisoned by 25 sergeants. It was taken by Spanish troops in 1635, but lost all strategic importance after the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 when the border was moved even further south to its present position along the crest of the Pyrenees.
In the 13th century it belonged to the Lords of Fenouillet. Defended by Pierre Catala and, more importantly, by Guillaume de Peyrepertuse, it withstood attack by Simon de Montfort and his successors until the end of the crusades. After 1243, its owner was Roger Catala, Pierre's son, but it was defended, like Quéribus, by Chabert de Barbaira, a Cathar military commander who was the last person to defend the Occitan cause.
Numerous Cathar deacons sought refuge here after the fall of Montsegur. It is thought that the castle was finally forced to surrender (probably around the same time as Queribus) c.1255.