Bonjour à tous!
Have more pretty pictures to share- this will be a shorter post but I wanted to stay on top of things since I know I'll take tons of photos this weekend on our trip to Carcassonne.
The other day, my friend Lauren invited me to go hiking with her and her host dad, Claude. We drove about half an hour north of Montpellier to the commune of Saint-Mathieu-de-Tréviers, which is a beautiful region full of vineyards and woods.
We hiked up to the top of a huge hill (I keep wanting to call it a mountain!), which was really rocky with a winding path and an incredible view of the countryside below. Way up at the very top was a ruined castle, le Château de Montferrand, which was so much fun to explore.
I did a little research after we got back- the castle was built around the 12th century, on top of an ancient Roman fort. It was built as a defensive center to control part of a county, and was mostly occupied by soldiers and officers. It passed through many hands over the years, and played a big role in the region's history, such as during les Guerres de Religion when it was seized by the Protestants. The Catholics eventually took it back, further fortified it, and kept control of it despite a siege by the Protestants. The castle's decline started in 1689 with the death of its last owner, and Louis XIV later authorized its destruction. Luckily it was too difficult to carry the stones away, so it remained fairly untouched.
Today, a lot of the walls are still standing, with empty windows looking down over the fields and wildflowers growing between the stones. Claude showed us une citerne, a square-shaped hole in the floor that lead down to storage areas for water and wine. Several of the underground cellars (caves) were intact, so we wandered down into them. The castle was built to withstand long sieges, and was protected by two outer walls (enceintes).
It was really exciting to explore, and it involved a lot of climbing up and down and into holes. I couldn't get over how old it was, and how beautiful it was even in ruin. At the same time, it was really humbling and a little sad to be there and to think of all of the people who had been there, to wonder what it must have looked like. Claude said he likes to go there because it's un témoignage du passé (evidence of the past). It's so different from anything that we have in the US- you can't just go hiking out to a castle! I found a website that lists all of the castles and ruins in France, and there are a lot more in the region that I hope to make it to since I love hiking.
View walking up to the ruins
This website has more pictures/info in French: http://jean-francois.mangin.pagesperso-orange.fr/capetiens/fenetres_filles/chateau_montferrand.htm
À la prochaine fois!