Authentic Provence Towns: Lacoste, Gordes, Roussillon, and Oppède le Vieux

Roussillon, Provence, France.

Roussillon, Provence, France.

Our world is full of attractive places, and some of them are definitely worth visiting again and again. The famous Provence style attracts tourists like a magnet. It also attracted us, and we have found ourselves in the south of France to meet with authentic Provence, and finally to feast our eyes on lavender.

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Puilaurens Castle: The Last Cathar Fortress

Ruins of the Cathar castle of Puilaurens, Languedoc, France.

Ruins of Cathar castle of Puilaurens, Languedoc, France.

In the 13th century, the Cathar Crusade of Pope Innocent III against heretics of Languedoc brought to submission many cities in the South of France. To his crusaders, the pope promised all the lands which they would free of Cathars. Of course, landlords of Languedoc didn’t like the idea of their properties being used as a prize. Together with the Cathars, they held the fort in their castles for 10, 20, and, in some cases, 50 years. Most of the castles were located on inaccessible rocks. Today, you will find just their remnants, but some of them have kept their greatness.

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Pays Cathare or the Noble Ruins Remembering the Cathar Heresy

 

Chateaux de Lastours. Pays Cathare, Languedoc, France.

Chateaux de Lastours. Pays Cathare, Languedoc, France.

The whole land was filled with blood, castles were taken by storm, villages were lying in ruins, bonfires were blazing everywhere burning hundreds of people, the population was almost destroyed by the Crusader army led by Simon de Montfort hired by the pope. Did you think it happened somewhere in Palestine? No. It was Languedoc, France, which 800 years ago was named Occitania or Pays Cathare and belonged to the Cathars, people who dared to think about Jesus Christ in their own way, not according to the pope’s way. The head of the Catholic Church declared this doctrine to be the Cathar heresy and tested in Occitania a new method of getting rid of unwanted people—burning them at the stake—which would later became known as the Holy Inquisition.

Why burn people? Why not just kill them with well proven methods? Because their graves and memorial stones could remain and become places of worship for new heretics. Instead, nothing but ashes would be left after a fire. However, the pope was wrong. Memorial stones on the fields of mass burnings of Cathars in Languedoc were established, and today, we will stand near one of them at the foot of the famous ruins of the Cathar castle, Chateau de Montsegur.

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