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My First Foray into

Cathar Country
A 1997 Adventure

Belatedly Illustrated in 2003

Go to The Journey in 2003 Page

When I told the story of this trip on this website some years ago I had no useful pictures, or so I thought.

I did manage a page of pictures of my very last stop on that trip, but I cheated: I went back a year later and took them! So, I do have some decent photos of Montsegur on my site, besides the ones that will be linked below. I also provided a link to a website with stunning pictures of the attractions of Cathar country (the site is now divided into a free and a subscription site, the free site has many great pictures).

The reason for the "no pictures" problem was that I went on that 1997 trip with a very inexpensive digital camera, I had no experience with digital cameras before the trip and lost a few sets along the way, and the pictures were just "blah."

After I saw the pictures, I took the camera back to the store.

It was two years later that I got my trusty Agfa e-Photo 1280, which is obsolete now, but I still like it and use it.

But, I thought, "Not to worry, I'll be back to these places!" Now it is going on 6 years later and it is dawning on me that those washed out pictures may be all I will ever have.

So, with some touching up using my Adobe software, here are those pictures from my very first, and very important to me that time, adventure in the land of the Cathars:

Why do this set of pages? Maybe even if the pictures are substandard, you could still see somehing you feel a need to see and experience for yourself.

My first night's hotel was in a delightful little place called Laguepie. The town has no traffic lights at all, not even a stop sign where two rivers come together in a confluence of 500 foot deep gorges. The hotel is next to the Aveyron river.

Here is a view of the Aveyron river downtown:

I hurried, parked, and went for a walk. The sunset was coming soon, so from the hotel I walked into the hills on a path behind this castle ruin:

On the way up there were some charming views of the last of the sun shining on this green little town:

The heart of the city is Medieval, as are many of the towns in this area:

I know the hills are about 500 feet above the river level because I measured the elevation change as I hiked up a farm road to the top of one of the surrounding hills. I am at the castle here:

There I saw and felt a wonderful warm sunset and exchanged friendly hellos when I walked past two farm houses.

My next day's journey was to see the four Medieval cities of St. Antonin Noble-val, Penne, Bruniquel, Puycelsi, and then to zip a hundred kilometers to the southeast to Minerve. Photos of Puycelsi and Minerve survived, very few were taken at the other locations because I was running out of time, and those few vanished.

In each of these cities, during the Albigesian Crusade in the early 1200's, the Catholic nobles and their 20,000 strong war machine prevailed, but the cities still stand because usually the town fortifications and nobility's castles were all that was methodically demolished. This was a physical attack, but also a psychological one. It was done to suggest to the locals that their nobles aren't providing them with any protection anymore, and it is in their best interest to cooperate with the new order. For reasons I do not know, but may have had something to do with negotiated surrenders, some towns were spared altogether.

Today these towns' dwellings are modernized. The homes are modern inside with regard to electricity, plumbing, insulation, doors and windows. After all, these towns are living human habitats now, just as they have been for more than a millennium.

Go to Puycelsi

Go to Minerve

Go to LaGrasse

Go to Peyrepertuse

Go to Montsegur

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