Puilaurens is a locality of the Aude, Occitan region, 45 km south of Limoux by road, on the edge of the Pyrénées-Orientales.
Also called (but not officially) Lapradelle-Puilaurens, the commune with the vast territory of 33 km² is famous for its medieval castle built on a spur surrounded by forests. It was one of the defensive bastions of the borders of the kingdom of France with Aragon until the seventeenth century.
The first village developed at its feet, and a second appeared along the departmental road in the nineteenth century when were established sawmills and spinning mills on the course of Boulzane.
Puilaurens has more than 1000 inhabitants. There are only about 270 now.
The castle with majestic remains and the green environment of the town, conducive to hiking, make the village a must for tourists staying in the region.
It is obviously the castle which constitutes the first goal of a stage with Puilaurens. It is mentioned as early as the 10th century, belonging to the abbey of Saint-Michel de Cuxa. In the eleventh century, it belongs to the Count of Besalù, then the Viscount of Narbonne. The first lord of the place as such is Pierre Catala. We are then in the thirteenth century and disputes over the sovereignty of the kingdom of Toulouse and Albigensian crusades are numerous. Cathars are sheltered in the castle which becomes a real impregnable citadel. Or almost: Spaniards will manage to seize it punctually at the end of the Middle Ages. In 1250 the castle passes under the control of the kingdom of France and in 1255 Saint-Louis asks that its fortifications be reinforced.
Puilaurens is then one of the five "sons" of Carcassonne with the castles of Quéribus, Peyrepertuse, Termes and Aguilar but because of its geographical position, it is to Puilaurens that is stationed the most important garrison on the border Aragon. It occupies this role until the treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 which redefines the borders. Although it has so far resisted Spanish incursions, Puilaurens no longer has any real strategic interest. Badly maintained, he is abandoned to the Revolution.
Today property of the town, the castle has certainly lost some of its towers and walls but most of its architecture has been preserved. It is always accessed by a narrow path and a barbican. Classified in 1902, it remains a very good example of medieval military architecture. For visitors, it is at the same time an edifying dive in centuries of history and synonymous with great views of the surrounding countryside. Free visit or commented from April to mid-November. Price: from 3 and 6 euros. Information on +33 4 68 20 65 26.
The visit of the castle completed, many hikes are possible including the forest of Les Fanges. Attention to relief: the territory rises to more than 1400 m! Maps and information on +33 4 68 11 66 00.
Another way to discover the town and the region is to browse through the train of the Pays Cathare and Fenouillèdes also called The Red Train: tourist vocation, crisscrossing vineyards, viaducts and foothills of the Pyrenees, it crosses the valley at the bottom of the castle and stops at Lapradelle station. All information at 04 68 200 400 or +33 4 68 59 99 02.
For fishing enthusiasts, finally, the rivers of the town can be excellent playgrounds! All information on the regulation at +33 4 68 25 16 03.
Mid-July, concert harp in the courtyard of the castle and craft market and farmer in the parking lot of the ticket. Information: Tel. : +33 4 68 20 65 26 - +33 9 64 42 73 45 - Email: chateau.puilaurens @ orange.fr