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P Ballou




Location: N California
Joined: 05 Oct 2006

Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2007 9:45 am    Post subject: Medieval sites in southern France         Reply with quote

I'll be visiting south of France this summer with my family. I was wondering if anyone in this forum might be able to recommend places to visit with interesting medieval content. In particular, I am looking for hotels or bed & breakfasts that might be in an old castle or in a medieval town, and lesser known museums. We'll be based near Aix-en-Provence, but will have a car to get around. I'm thinking Carcassonne, but wasn't sure if this might be a tourist trap. All suggestions welcome.

Thanks,
Phil
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Jonathan Blair




Location: Hanover, PA
Joined: 15 Aug 2005
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Posts: 479

PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2007 12:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.guedelon.com/uk/presentation/presentation.php

It's a replica 13th century castle being built by 13th century methods.

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." - The Lord Jesus Christ, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, chapter x, verse 34, Authorized Version of 1611
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Alan H. Weller




Location: Palo Alto, CA
Joined: 31 Oct 2006

Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2007 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The huge fortified city of Carcasonne is well worth seeing and studying. It is an enormous achievement that it is preserved. I don't think anybody lives within the walls of the fortified city (as people do in Avila, Spain) , and it is essentially a museum. The rents paid by the tourists shops, cafes , etc. hopefully pay for the continued maintenance of this amazing place. We walked inside and outside, at all times of day and night, and greatly enjoyed the couple of days we spent and learned a lot. One night in particular, we walked up from the more modern, lower town, and sat under the stars outside the walls, and saw and felt how massive it is. The more modern lower part of Carcasonne is a nice French town, too, through which flow the Canal Du Midi (another amazing thing, but from the days of Louis XVI) and the Aude River (if my memory is correct).

If you are at Carcasonne, you are in an interesting area . In the first place, there are a number of castles to see in the area of Carcasonne (which I think is the Department of Aude). But, also this is Languedoc and was the land of the Cathars, and the vicious crusade against them by Simon de Montfort (remember the massacre at Beziers). Lots of castles and historical sites in the Department of Herault, which I think is further east along the canal.

I loved everything about our trip there and I hope you will, too.
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Fabrice Cognot
Industry Professional



Location: Dijon
Joined: 29 Sep 2004

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PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2007 7:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not too far from Aix-en-Provence :

- Avignon, and the Pope's palace/fortress.

- Tarascon - nice castle there, King René of Anjou's actually.

Carcassone is a 3 to 4 hours trip, depending on traffic. But well worth the sight - bad thing is that it'll be bristling with uncouth tourists there.

Like Allan said, lots of places to see down there. Good idea would be to buy one of these Green Guides edited by Michelin, and browse through it in search of medieval places.


I wish I could tell you more - but I just don't have time at the moment Sad

Cheers

Fab

PhD in medieval archeology.
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De Taille et d'Estoc director
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2007 9:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Make sure you get out to see the Chateau Lastours. You can catch bus tours from Carcassonne to the castle- ask at the tourist board in the new town, or check out the information boards at the HI Hostel in the old city- they had info about it when I was there last November. The castle is actually a series of four towers stunningly located on a ridge top. I believe they date from the 13th century. If you head down the side of the mountain towards the river that runs in the valley on the one side, you'll find the remains of what was a medieval village. There isn't anything standing, but there are obvious recessions which were once the foundation of houses. There may be archaeological work going on there (there was in November) so be careful not to disturb things.

If you want to see any more photos of the castle, let me know and I'll post some.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teaux_de_Lastours
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2007 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another place that may be worth checking out is Toulouse. Among other things, it contains the church which was the final resting place of the philosophical giant Thomas Aquinas.
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Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2007 10:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Medieval sites in southern France         Reply with quote

P Ballou wrote:
I'll be visiting south of France this summer with my family. I was wondering if anyone in this forum might be able to recommend places to visit with interesting medieval content. In particular, I am looking for hotels or bed & breakfasts that might be in an old castle or in a medieval town, and lesser known museums. We'll be based near Aix-en-Provence, but will have a car to get around. I'm thinking Carcassonne, but wasn't sure if this might be a tourist trap. All suggestions welcome.

Thanks,
Phil


There is a beautiful town an hour or two away from Aix called Bourmes Les Mimosas. It's situated in the hills overlooking the somewhat more famous fishing villiage (now resort) called Le Lavandou. Both are lovely places, but Bourmes is really a preserved medieval treasure,



with twisting streets named after Saracen pirates and tunnels galore. The village is known for it's incredible flowers. There is a small castle in the village (which I think was burned at one point by the Lord of the next castle over) and several other keeps, castles and chateauxs nearby in the country and in the neighboring villages, such as the breathtaking Fort fo Bregancon ...



...which has been turned into a residence for the President of France. There are also numerous chateaus and even Ligurian / Celtic ruins in the area. Plus when you are bored with all that a breathaking beach, and the Islands off the coast (Porquolles etc.) I went around this time of year a couple of years ago and it's practically deserted around there, it's a bit off the main highway and the French don't decend on the area for summer vacation until late May or June.

Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

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P Ballou




Location: N California
Joined: 05 Oct 2006

Posts: 28

PostPosted: Thu 22 Mar, 2007 9:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent information, and beautiful photos. We've decided to rent a small apartment in a relais outside of Carcassonne for a couple of nights.

Thanks all! Big Grin
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