Okay, perhaps “excitement” is an overstatement. We did visit two Cathar sites on Thursday. The drive to the first, Puilaurens, could have been an excursion all by itself. We went through a gorge that was stunning. The way the morning sunlight was bouncing off the rock outcroppings, reflecting off the river, and causing the leaves to glow was unbelievable. The only downside to the drive is that the road is so narrow there is absolutely no place to stop to admire the scenery or to snap a photo. Guess it will have to live in my memory.
Puilaurens is a proper ruined castle sitting high up on a rocky outcropping with great views of the surrounding countryside. Unlike some of the others we have visited in years gone by, Puilaurens didn’t have much to show once you were within its walls. Mostly lots of rubble. The walk up was great; the air had that fall smell that you get in interior Alaska and think is kind of stinky until you realize that it is the smell of the high bush cranberries. It’s still stinky but since it isn’t someone’s dirty socks, it’s kind of exhilarating.
The most exciting thing happening at Puilaurens was not 12th and 13th century stuff but very 21st century stuff. A person, who is writing a book about the Cathars, was inside of the walls operating a drone that was buzzing about like an oversized hummingbird taking aerial photographs. The battery on his machine was good for about 20 minutes, so, we got to watch him bring his little bird in for a landing and refueling. It was pretty cool and I know that the photos that he was getting must be magnificent.
We poked around the site for quite a while until we remembered that we needed to be to our lunch destination by 1 o’clock. Maureen had suggested a place in the miniscule village of Belvianes et Cavirac. I mention the name of the village only to say that it takes up more space on this virtual page than the entire village would. It is south of Quillan, which is south of Limoux.
Maureen had told us that if we were there by 1 o’clock, they “will accommodate you.” I guess so!! We were the only people there and after looking at the indoor dining room and one enclosed outdoor space, we opted for a third area overlooking the river. The waiter was Mexican, from Guadalajara, and spoke very passable English and was charming. The young woman who greeted us was of unknown (to me) nationality but spoke good English and Italian, the chef was a young Italian woman. We had a nice lunch there and I was able to have an Italian conversation with the staff. It was wonderfully odd to be speaking Italian with a diverse group of young people in a tiny French village. It really was the cherry on top of the sundae.
On our way back to Limoux, we managed to fit in a stop at another Cathar site . . . although I am beginning to think that the Cathar connections of some of these places might be a bit tenuous. This one is Arques, just east of Couiza and is basically a tower in the middle of a field. Ho hum.
Back to our lovely B&B for a light dinner in the guest kitchen and a rousing game of hearts.