Chateaux Lastours

This was our first big hike of the vacation. It occurred towards the end of the day, after a visit to our favourite vigneron (and accompanying wine tasting—by Mimi. Gaston abstained from more than a few slurps, as he was DD), lunch below the troglodyte village of Minerve (two stars on the Michelin road map), and a winding journey across the southern slopes of the Black Mountain.

It was one of the first days of 35° temperatures, and the climb almost did Gaston in.

chateau régine, at one of the four lastours castles

Chateau Aguilar

Aguilar chateau

One of the “National Monument” ruined Cathar castles in the Aude.

Aguilar chateau

Looking down on the vineyards below chateau Aguilar.

Chateau Roquefixade

Gaston and I caught the Friday market in Foix, took a heap of photos as the light was crystal clear—that would have been the first day of Autumn light—then departed to conquer Roquefixade.

We’d been intimidated by this chateau on previous visits. The approach appears vertiginous.

The pog of Chateau Roquefixade

Chateau Roquefixade: the wee red flag at the top of the peak marks the ruins of this Cathar stronghold.

First visit to the area, which encompassed only six days, we gazed at it from Montségur and noted the cathar-cross flag flying at the top of the peak. On visit #2, we explored the town at the base of the cliff, climbed to the rock face, then decided, “Another day.” I believe a mild case of food poisoning or airplane stomach-bug played a role in that choice.

Even this time ’round, as we drove towards it from the west and saw how steep the outcrop on which the ruins are perched, Gaston and I were each dreading the endeavour. But, of course, we didn’t say anything. Which I think is mighty big of Gaston, who has confessed to me that, actually, he really doesn’t care for hiking, and especially doesn’t care for hiking up steep inclines, especially when it is warm out.

Does this mean he was humouring me? Who cares!

It turns out the hike to the chateau is deceptive: it isn’t nearly as rigorous as it appears from up the valley or from the village.

Roquefixade village

At the base of the village, overlooking the valley to the southwest, was a small “villa” (modern house) with a million-dollar view and cracks so large in the walls, you can see into the interior. Said house is for sale “on condition of unbuilding.” The edge of the hill beneath the house is subsiding. What a heartbreak for the owner who invested.

Don’t believe me? The trail winds around the base of the rock to the back side of the pog, then ascends at fairly reasonable, albeit still steepish, incline to the back of the fortress.

And we saw our first Griffin vulture whilst lounging at the top: a freaking HUGE, black bird that was riding the thermals off the crest.


Chateau Peyrepertuse