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Awe-inspiring Chateau de Puilaurens

Lapradelle-Puilaurens, Occitanie, France
4 Kudos
The thousand+ year-old ruins of Puilaurens Castle are perched dramatically on a steep rock outcropping. I was excited to get there once I spotted the impressive fortress while driving up from the small village below. As you hike up the trail, you zig-zag through the ancient defensive chicane leading up to the entrance. The thick stone walls are still relatively intact, with four round towers at the corners of the irregular trapezoid that they enclose. There's also a massive square keep, or donjon. One of the round towers near the keep is called the White Lady Tower after Blanche of Bourbon, who is alleged to haunt the ruins. There are other ruined structures in the courtyard, including an ancient cistern. You can

The castle is over mentioned in history as far back as the year 958. In 1162 it belonged to the King and Queen of Aragon, but wound up as a French property. During the Cathar wars, some Cathar deacons and lords who had been dispossessed of property took shelter here, and the castle was besieged and eventually surrendered around 1255. Like many of the other French castles in the area, it lost its strategic importance after the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 fixed the border further to the south.

Considering the beautiful clear day I had, this was probably the most impressive of the solitary ruined castles that I visited and I was just superb. There were only a few other visitors there during my visit, and a couple of times I had the whole ruins to myself. I bought a couple of nice posters in the gift shop at the base.
Story Details

Culture and experiences

Puilaurens Castle
Puilaurens Castle
Fantastic ruins of a 1000 year old castle with an impressive rock location.


Chazalet Azinala Colette
There are a couple small places to stay in the small village below the castle.

Points of interest

There is also a nice dinosaur museum in the area, I'd especially check it out with kids.
Arques Castle
This was the castle I visited just prior to Puilarens -- a much different style.
Château vicomtal Saint-Pierre de Fenouillet
This was the next castle I went to (not nearly impressive, but still nice).
Gorges de la Pierre-Lys
You'll drive through some beautiful scenery in this gorge on the way to Puilarens


Le Catharome
You can find a couple places to eat back on the main D117 road.

On The Map