A little while ago, I wrote about my visit to the local history museum in Puisserguier. There’s a lot more to discover in this town, and today I’d like to take you on a visit of the castle, which is at the heart of the old village.
The origins of the chateau date back to the 11th century, when a fortified castle was built on a hillock. At that time the people living on the plains were at the mercy of bands of marauders, and very soon a second fortification was built, encircling a small village. Puisserguier became a circulade, a village built in the round. Examples of such villages can still be seen in the area – Aigne is one such village which is in very good condition.
This link takes you to a map of Puisserguier. The chateau is on Plan dals Cathars and the map gives you a good idea of how the village grew up around it.
The chateau became property of the French state during the French revolution, and was subsequently sold as several lots. Doorways were created in the outside walls, and the inside was divided into a number of dwellings.
When I first visited the chateau many years ago, the vagaries of time had not been kind to it! Most of the courtyard inside the chateau was taken up by a block of garages, and the arches in the courtyard had been partly blocked up. It all looked in a pitiful state. The fortunes of the chateau changed, when the municipality decided to claim back this part of local history, by buying up parts of the chateau as they came up for sale.
The garages in the courtyard were cleared away and the arches in the courtyard were opened up again.
Some of the arrow slits are still visible on the inside the walls; the square holes in the wall would have been for wooden beams, and those beams would have supported walkways for the archers.
If only some of those walls could tell their story!! If you look carefully, you can decipher a little bit of the story: the top of the wall was added later, probably in the 19th century. As for the black patch at the bottom of the picture, your guess is as good as mine!
On the ground floor of the chateau, only one room is open to the public. It is used for exhibitions, telling the history of the chateau. This room was originally divided into two rooms, but the last owner decided to do some alterations!
Plans are afoot to restore parts of the chateau and to open more of it to the public. As always, it will be a question of funding, but we live in hope!
On my way back to the car, I passed through another gateway, which was in the outer walls of the town. Where once the walls might have been surrounded by a moat, today there is a car park. Alongside the car park runs the D612 Beziers to Saint-Pons-de-Thomieres road, going straight through Saint-Chinian, to take me home!