We propose below ideas of historical walks, they are classified chronologically
(The history of Languedoc began 72 million years ago with the largest most complete dinosaurus ever found in France, at Esperaza. It continues with traces of prehistoric activity in Carcassonne - about 1,500,000 years B.C., with the man of Tautavel, caves, dolmens, menhirs of the Minervois and the necropolis of Mailhac - from the stone age to the iron - age). You can visit the museum of Esperaza in the countryside around Carcassonne,the Museum of Tautavel, discover the menhirs and dolmens of Minervois and then finish by Bize caves and the necropolis of Mailhac. You can further complete by one of the rooms of the Museum of Narbonne devoted to prehistory
musée grotte de Bize musée de dolmen
d'Esperaza minervois Tautavel du Minervois
(Narbonne, first colony out of Italy and daughter of Rome, is the first Roman city of Gaule. In the year 118 B.C., it becomes capital of the narbonensis province. Romans, seduced by a region which recalls them Tuscany, settle in the area for five centuries. they build the Via Domitia linking Narbonne to Rome, develop the architecture of the city, implanting Amphoralis pottery workshops, exploit the marble quarries and develop the port of Narbonne to transport products from Gaul to Rome. (This period marks the first development of the region). You can see remains of Via Domitia, the Roman museums and horreum at Narbonne , the Roman villa, the amphoralis museum, the oppidum of Enserune ... In 1982, Rome gifted Narbonne of a wolf to celebrate this filiation.
via domitia louve de Narbonne musées de Narbonne
šVisigoth walk: (Franks settle in the country and make allegiance to Rome and its church At the same time, Visigoths invade the Languedoc. Visigoths settle here for three centuries on a powerful and rich territory that extends from South of Loire to Toledo and whose capital is Toulouse, until the defeat of Alaric against the army of the first franc king Clovis. They then withdraw in Languedoc (Septimania) and their spanish kingdom. They completely empower their kingdom from the tyranny of Rome and give it the name of Gallia. They are of Aryan confession and apply religious tolerance on their land. They welcome in their kingdom people persecuted by the barbarism of Franks or by Roman Church . Therefore, many Jews take refuge in Narbonne at the time. They enact bases of the French civil code with the Breviary of Alaric, which will be first applied on their land, then by the king of Franks Clovis and constantly during the middle ages. This text brings to European civilisation a fundamental progress: the concept of State, the distinction between public and private law, social status, regulation of commercial transactions, deals with Church, everything which constitutes a world where barbaric violence is stopped by normative right. The Visigothic kingdom will remain in Languedoc until the occupation of Saracen forces.) You can walk in their footsteps in the mountain of Alaric, in Rennes le Château, or discover the necropolis of Moural des Morts.
Rennes le Château Nécropole de Moural Montagne d'Alaric
šSaracen walk (After the departure of Visigoth kings in eight century, a diversity of people and influences spreads in this area, armies pass men remain yet open-mindedness still prevails. Narbonne becomes smoothly Muslim in 719. Unlike Franks, Saracens represent the most advanced civilization at the time. They allow Christians and Jews, after payment of a tithe, to practise openly their religion. They bring to Languedoc the civilisation of the Umayyads : singing, poetry, calligraphy, alchemy, astrology, algebra.... and mark this county permanently with their culture. After several battles, Franks are progressing slowly in Languedoc, but Narbonne still resists. Accordingly, they lay siege of Narbonne in 737 but Muslims, Jews, Visigoths and Gallo-Roman resist together against bloody Franks. Trapped in the city, Saracens employ their armies of Spain and Maghreb to deal a heavy defeat to the Franks. The impressive Maghreb army sails toward the Bages-Sigean pond while Arab Cavalry of Spain crosses the Pyrenees in direction of Portel des Corbières. Arising from the massif de Fontfroide, the army of Charles Martel falls on the Saracens in the gorges of the River Berre, thereby separating the cavalry troops arrived by sea. Martel pursues them up to Durban mountain and down to Port Mahon at sea, sowing a terrible carnage behind him and putting the Arab expansion in the future Kingdom of France to an end. Therefore, Narbonne remains Arabic... It is only in 759, that the son of Charles Martel so-called Pepin the short resume Narbonne. Narbonne is the single city in France, that will have remained Muslim for 40 years.) You can follow their footsteps in the massif of Fontfroide, in the gorges of the Berre, or around Port Mahon, or Bages-Sigean pond.
Calife culture sarrasine Charles Martel
šchurches and abbeys walk (Carolingians remain only 3 years in Narbonne county, install local lordship and encourage expansion of the Church of Rome. Between 8th and 11th century feudal lords tear for possession of land and finally settle their power through the links forged by marriage, the viscounties are born -Carcassonne, Narbonne, Béziers, Albi, Toulouse-. Catholic Church confirms its presence and power over the same period, thanks to Carolingians support, than local lords backing. The Roman Church develops many parishes with the establishment of ecclesiastical authority, buids beautiful architectural jewels in Aude and performs feats in the field of irrigation... In the musical field, during the 11th century, abbeys provide musical education for civilians, and form the first troubadours. poets and musicians. Conscious of their role as social than philosophical, troubadours interpret their poetic works in old occitan at manorial courts of the country of Oc. They discuss two topics : fin'amor or courtly love and social raise or critic. This culture is to broadcast soon throughout Europe.) You may contemplate the architectural wonders in the abbeys of Fontfroide, Lagrasse, Caunes-Minervois, the churches of Pouzols, Ginestas, Rieux Minervois, or admire the perfect geometry of Montady.. You'll understand Troubadour culture by visiting the Museum of medieval instruments.
Fontfroide Rieux Minervois Caunes-Minervois
(from the 10th to the 13th century, catharism extends throughout Europe, in response to a catholic dogma judged too ostentatious, corrupt, distant of first values of christianity. Languedoc knows the more exacerbated Catharism : all classes of society convert. It is still a rich and vast territory (all South West of France), where different people co-exist in tolerance since the Visigoths, gathered by their language "OC", with ambitions of independence. It stretches strategically from the foothills of the Pyrenees to the Massif Central, is administered by the count of Toulouse, protected by Philippe Auguste king of France of whom he is a great vassal, and very close to the King of Aragon. The Pope concludes to heresy of this "belief" and excommunication of Cathars (at the time so-called perfect or good men). He creates the Dominicans order and the Inquisition to eradicate this belief, asks for several actions to the French king, in vain. Facing a too deep implantation in the counties of Carcassonne, Narbonne, Béziers, Albi and Toulouse, the Pope launches in 1209 the crusade against the Albigenses justified by the murder of the legate of Pope in Lauragais. Wether this murder forces the king of France to oppose the count of Toulouse, he refuses however to personally throw his army against his vassal and chooses three of his great Lords to gather the army of crossed knights. Their first action is the sacking of Béziers, followed by the seat of Carcassonne. After the capitulation of the two cities, the army is placed under the orders of Simon de Montfort. While the count of Toulouse Raymond VI makes amends, the vicomte of Carcassonne is thrown in jail, citadels fall one after the other and in 1321, after 112 years of war, Guilhem Bélibaste, the last known "perfect" is burned. The scope of this crusade is historic : Languedoc is attached forever to the Crown of France, which enlarges the Kingdom, provides new access to the Mediterraneans sea, the Pyrenees and enriches the kingdom with cultural and material wealths of Languedoc. the Roman Church strengthens its power after this victory (Cathedral St Just and St Pastor, Palace of the archbishops of Narbonne, Béziers...), it establishes new preachers orders and implements inquisition throughout Christendom.)
You can follow the footsteps of Cathars in many major sites like the high city of Béziers, the castle of Carcassonne, the city of Minerve, the castle of Villerouge-Thermenès (and Monségur, Lavaur, Toulouse, Avignonet-Lauragais, Albi) but also the sites of lesser significance as the castles of Peyrepertuse, Queribus, Puylaurens... modified by St. Louis.
Béziers Monument aux Cité de Carcassonne
Simon de Montfort Reddition de Raymond VI
Languedoc falls gradually asleep under royal tutelage, but faithful to its reputation of humanist earth, it ignites with each war of religion. It wakes up again under the reign of Louis XIV, for a fourth cultural and economic development.
(Around the end of 1645, Jean Baptiste Poquelin, so-called Molière, with a few comedians remaining of the "Famous Theatre", visits every corner of Languedoc ; He learns his job of actor, perfects his comic game playing for the most various audiences and becomes director of the cast. In 1650, the General States of Languedoc are held in Pézenas and the company is selected to present a show. Three years later, Molière becomes actor for the General States and the Prince of Conti, a famous libertine lord and a theatre amateur, also very wealthy for he is the third most important character of the kingdom. An era of prosperity and inspiration opens for the company, until the mystical crisis of the prince, who turns to devotion under the influence of his confessor, Abbot Rouquette in 1657. This is the end of the protection of the Prince and Molière leaves the county with his company. He returns to Paris and under the protection of the king's brother, becomes Louis XIV's favorite playwright. He will entertain the so-called Sun king with his most famous plays such as "les précieuses", "Sganarelle and the imaginary cuckold". Some say that his plays are based on events he saw or lived whilst he worked in Languedoc. Considered as the soul of the "Comédie Française", he is still the most played author in France and has reached the pantheon of great authors like W. Shakespeare. Marcel Pagnol, a french director wrote: "If Jean-Baptiste Poquelin was born in Paris, Molière was born in Pézenas".) You can attend performances of these plays at the Molière Festival organized each year, visit the Museum of Vulliod, or feel his presence in randoming through streets and mansions of the 17th century that draw up the Molière tour in Pézenas.
Pézenas Molière Pièce de Molière
šCanal du Midi stroll (The idea of linking the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, to avoid the detour via the coast of Spain (3000 kms to go), the Strait of Gibraltar, storms and the perils of attacks by Barbary, is an idea in air long before the reign of Louis XIV.) Néron, August at the time of the Romans, and the french kings Charlemagne, Françis I, Charles IX, Henri IV all expressed the ambition to achieve this feat, without being able to ensure the feasability of this junction. It's in 1662, that Pierre-Paul Riquet, collector and future architect, seeks to bring water to the highest point of the future Canal (Naurouze threshold) in a share point so that it flows towards Mediterranean and Atlantic slopes. His knowledge of the Montagne Noire and streams leads him to imagine a supply system based on diversion of water by the capture of several rivers and streams. The Canal du Midi will be completed in 1667 and inaugurated in 1681, due to the persistence of its architect. It is the result of exceptional men (King Louis XIV, prime minister Colbert, inventor and collector Riquet and the General Commissioner of Fortifications Vauban). It is also the result of a social policy ahead of the time : wages are monthly paid and higher than elsewhere, workers aren't selected under 20 and after 50 years. Days of nonworking, sickness, rain, public holiday, sundays are paid. Housing is made available to all the workers. Pierre-Paul Riquet is clearly a great precursor. This social policy allows him to achieve this feat in record time in the light of the technical facilities of the time. In 1789, revolutionaries give "the Royal Canal in Languedoc" the name of "Canal du Midi". In 1898 the state legislates and binds in a single channel all channels from Gironde estuary to the mediterranean sea. Channel brings communication, transportation and economic development, between East and West, North and South, mediterranean sea and atlantic ocean. Wines, cereals, silk, salt transit on the channel, even at the time of steam locomotives. However, the advent of the engine and oil tankers in 1925, changed the destiny of the Canal, and freight is abandoned in favour of boating. (In the 1990s, the channel is renamed the channel of two seas, but residents still call it the Canal du Midi.) The Canal du Midi is extraordinary by its scope, the ingenuity of its supplying system and the number of titanic work that you can contemplate at Le Somail, the waterworks of Fonséranne, the aqueduct of Cesse, the channel-bridge of Argent-double, the Malpas tunnel... Since 1996, the Canal is classified in the World Heritage list by Unesco. It's the oldest canal of Europe still operating.
Pierre-Paul Riquet Louis XIV Vauban
jonction autour de Ginestas écluses de fonseranne pont suspendu
šthe king's quarries walk :
Red marble quarries in Caunes Minervois were already appreciated by Romans - ancient villas of Minervois and great mosque of Cordoba, Spain -. They were then used by medieval sculptors -pre-romanesque capitals and columns in the Abbey of Fontfroide -. in 1615, a sculptor of the Gena riviera resume control of the red marble exploitation. Trade multiply between Carrara -white marble- and Caunes while religious buildings of south of France take advantage of this shimmering pattern for their columns or elements of altarpiece. In 1666 quarries companies require "Crimson" and "turquin" marbles for sculptures at Versailles. The opening of the Canal du Midi in 1681 facilitates transport up to the Garonne River, then by sea from Bordeaux to le Havre and sailing up the Seine to Paris. A path is constructed by the States of Languedoc to reach the port of Puicéric. A royal decree in 1700 ensures the royal monopoly of the material and Louis XIV books the Malecasse career for his own purpose -today a protected site-. The most remarkable royal or imperial monuments from Louis XIV to Napoleon III, highlight Caunes marble : Fontainebleau, Versailles, Marly, the Louvre, the Invalides, the Carroussel, the opera of Paris... Sold in 1807, five main careers are awarded to a marble company that exports marble through France and abroad, giving the village an international and deserved fame. Since 1965, the blocks are directly transported by trucks towards Italy and are widely disseminated in the United States, Arab countries and Japan.
You can visit the quarries at Caunes-Minervois
Caunes-Minervois mosquée de Cordoue château de Versailles Les Invalides
šbalade des vignobles:
Wine culture develops in the 18th and 19th centuries in Languedoc, due to the harbour of Sete, the Canal du Midi, the railroad, the industrialization of France and the improvement of methods of conservation . At the end of the 19th century, French viticulture faces severe diseases. Poverty settles. After treatment, grape regenerates and the area planted with vines grows in Languedoc. The region provides about 40% of French production of wine at the time, the area becomes richer and vast chateaux are born, many jobs are created in the induced sectors. Smallholders self-organize : the cooperative cellar of Marausson is built in 1905 and cooperative cellars spread in all Languedoc. Their principle is the pooling of production tools and profits from the sale. From 1904 to 1907, crops are too abundant, wine courses and sales decline inexorably, unfair competition of fake wines adds. In 1907, the destitution comes back, it affects the entire population of Languedoc. On 11 March 1907, 87 winegrowers of Argeliers, led by Marcelin Albert revolt and ask to speak to members of parliament in Narbonne. Movement is accelerating, gaining scale and brings together half a million people in Montpellier. This is the biggest demonstration of the third Republic. The whole region seems to defy the president Clémenceau. The republic sends the army, that opens fire on demonstrators causing deaths on various occasions. Wine revolt doesn't wane, and brings together all political trends to protest the lack of solution proposed by the Government. 600 mayors announce their resignation and lead a revolt of elected representatives; on June 19, Ernest Ferroul leader of the rebellion is imprisoned. The news of the planned arrest of all members of the Argeliers Committee sparks things off ; Incidents, counterattacks of the cavalry and death after another succeed during 2 days. This repression ordered by Clémenceau, revolts the 17th regiment of infantry soldiers (all issued from the area). They mutiny, take weapons and ammunition with them and walk to Béziers. On-site they settle down and fraternize with the people who feed them. The military authorities make the mutineers leave the town before further disciplinary measures. As a response to these events, conscripts of France will now perform military service far away from home. Marcellin Albert hides in Paris. The national assembly debates bill against fraud on wine without him. He succeeds however to see Clemenceau, who persuades him to go and calm down the rebellion. Clémenceau imprisons him, discredits skilfully this man in medias and thus manages to divide the Argeliers Committee. Meanwhile, Parliament adopts legislation to reduce wine fraud and promulgates the AOC ((controlled origin label). The general confederation of wine is created. Since then, winegrowers of Aude continue to fight and accelerate the conversion of vineyards in bio. Their resistance to maintain vineyards against industrial, commercial and real estate speculation in the 20th century, has contributed to preserve the beauty of the landscapes of Aude. You wil easily fall under its spell if you take the roads of wines in Minervois and Corbières.