Monday, October 4, 2010

The View Was to Die For

On Saturday Nancy and I, along with Ursula and Dede, our visitors from Montana, got out of the car at the parking lot at Queribus and our view was what you see above. It was the first day's outing with our friends to show them the beautiful section of France that we live in. In Leran, it was clear and sunny, but over near the Mediterranean coast, we had a cold and wet fog.

The view from the parking lot should have been something like this (above). My apologies to Jeremey Fressard for stealing his picture, but on a lot of other days, I could have shot this just as well as he did.

A cobweb at the first informational sign was dripping with moisture telling you everything you need to know about the weather.

We climbed the gravelled trail up to the fortified entrance to Queribus and I took a picture of Ursula and Dede taking a picture of me. This is the chute that was over the doorway, down which you would pour boiling oil on your attackers. Ouch. There were arrow chutes in all the strategic places; anyplace an attacker would stand to try to break down the door was exposed to arrows.

We could barely see where we were going, and we could not see the top of the chateau.

At one point, it was if the interpretive signs were trying to rub the nasty weather in our faces. There, below the stone guard rail was this sign pointing out all the majestic beauty of the valley below us. At least it's what we would have seen if we had more than about 20 yards of visibility. At the very top of the photograph above the rock wall is the gray void of fog. Still, the chateau was fascinating the way it was perched upon the rock and had a commanding view (or so it's said) of the likely routes of the invading armies.

Nancy and Dede were happy because there were dungeons and circular stairways, a chapel and a latrine, a cistern and a tower; everything a good castle should have. Queribus is one of the so called "Five Sons of Carcassonne", along with Aguilar, Peyrepertuse, Termes and Puilaurens. The five castles were strategically placed to defend the French border against the Spanish, which was somewhat to the north of the present day border. In 1659, Louis XIV of France and Philip IV of Spain signed the Treaty of the Pyrenees, sealed with the marriage of the infant Marie Therese to the French monarch. The treaty changed the borders, moving the frontier south to the crest of the Pyrenees, the present Franco-Spanish border. The fortresses thus lost their importance. Some maintained a garrison of soldiers until the French Revolution, but they slowly fell into decay, often becoming shepherd's' shelters or bandits hideouts.

It was a very spooky visit due to the lousy weather. We all felt as if snow was imminent, but a few hours later we sat outdoors at a cafe near the river in Quillan and had a glass of wine in the warm sunshine.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't look like the fog made any difference to Fergus...he looked as chipper as ever!


Kate Euser said...

What an eerie setting... fog, cobwebs, dungeons! Good thing Fergie Ferg was there to protect you.

Is this a similar castle to Peyrepertuse? Is it part of the "chain?"