Per 4 servings:
- ¾ lb ricotta cheese
- 4 oz Provolone cheese
- 3 ½ oz ham
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
- frying oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 lb all-purpose flour
- 3 ½ oz lard
- 1 lemon
Per 4 servings:
Above, a mold of La Citè and its walls as seen inside the castle. You can see in it a castle and a church…….
The castle of Carcassonne, known as the “Palatium” or Château Comtal has a strong claim to be called a “Cathar Castle“. When the Catholic Crusader army arrived in 1209 they first attacked Raymond-Roger Trencavel castrum at
During the French royal domain, between 1228 and 1239, the castle was completely redesigned to become a fortress within the city. Several structures were built. A barbican with a walk and a parapet wall guarding the entrance to the castle, just before the moat surrounding the entire inner wall; the entrance to the castle, framed by two towers, with machicolation, accessible only by a fixed bridge with a stone, followed by a liftgate driven counterweights. The walls replaced the original fence completely surrounding buildings. At the end of the stone bridge, overlooking the pits, the door of the castle and single access point, is flanked by twin towers that defend the entrance to the main courtyard.
The castle consists of two bodies in a building forming a L. In the northern area is a chapel dedicated to St. Mary, notable the apse of the Romanesque period. Only a fence separates the castle from the rest of the walled city.
Galleries made with wood in order to launch missiles on several assailants. They are placed 40 meters in height above the courtyard and two are located also on the belt of the castle walls.
On the walls of the castle there are nine towers, two of them being the highest in the city, the tower of the Chapel and tower Pinte, from the Visigoth period. The rest of the towers were built over the XII century, and are identical both inside and outside: consisting of four plants, including the ground floor. On the ground floor and first floor the ceilings are vaulted, while the upper floors are flat. Communication between plants is done through holes in ceilings. The Tower of Justice, built on the site of another tower (a Gallo-Roman prison) was used by the Inquisition.
The Lapidary Museum is located inside of the castle. Since 1927 are on display local archaeological findings in the department of Aude, ranging from the Roman to the Gothic, through the Romanesque, as well as some findings from the castle restoration. Present also some documents on the history of the city and the restoration carried out by Viollet-le-Duc. It is an ideal complement to finish the visit to the Castle and the Cité de Carcassonne. It’s worth stopping to admire its statues, alabaster, frescoes … not to mention the view of the city, which can be admired from its large windows……
A very short walk separates the castle from the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus ………The original church is thought to have been constructed in the 6th century during the reign of Theodoric the Great, ruler of the Visigoths.
On 12 June 1096, Pope Urban II visited the town and blessed the building materials for the construction of the cathedral. Construction was completed in the first half of the twelfth century. It was built on the site of a Carolingian cathedral, of which no traces remain. The crypt too, despite its ancient appearance, dates from the new construction. Around the end of the 13th century, during the rule of kings Philip III, Philip IV, and the episcopates of Pierre de Rochefort and Pierre Rodier, the cathedral was reconstructed in the Gothic style. It remained the cathedral of Carcassonne until 1803, when it lost the title to the present Carcassonne Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Michel de Carcassonne).
The Church of Saints Nazarius and Celsus obtained the status of historical monument in 1840. Around this time, the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc renovated the church along with the rest of the citadel. In 1898, the church was elevated to a minor basilica.
The sandstone basilica’s floor plan is based on a Latin cross, internally measuring 59 m in total length, 16 m in nave width, and 36 m along the transept. The oldest part of the church is the Romanesque tripartite nave. The main entrance in its north wall is formed by a Romanesque portal of five receding arches over two doors. A fortress façade forms the west wall, as is common for medieval Languedocian church buildings. The transept and choir were rebuilt in the Gothic style. The larger windows in this part of the church permit a better illumination compared to the darker romansque nave. The central stained glass window of the choir from 1280 is one of the oldest ones in the south of France. Together with the upper trefoils (the Resurrection of Jesus and the Resurrection of the dead), it depicts the life of Jesus in 16 medallions.
If you’re willing to know more about it, here’s a link to a very exhaustive brochure….
We choose our hotel in Carcassonne on the web, and we got luck, considering the view we had from our room……
Occupied since the Neolithic period, Carcassonne is located in the Aude plain between two great axes of circulation linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea and the Massif Central to the Pyrénées. Its strategic importance was quickly recognized by the Romans who occupied its hilltop until the demise of the Western Roman Empire and was later taken over in the fifth century by the Visigoths who founded the city. Also thriving as a trading post due to its location, it saw many rulers who successively built up its fortifications, until its military significance was greatly reduced by the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. The city is famous for the Cité de Carcassonne, a medieval fortress restored by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1853 and added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997. Consequently, Carcassonne greatly profits from tourism but also counts manufacture and wine-making as some of its other key economic sectors.
The first signs of settlement in this region have been dated to about 3500 BC, but the hill site of Carsac – a Celtic place-name that has been retained at other sites in the south – became an important trading place in the 6th century BC. The Volcae Tectosages fortified the oppidum. The folk etymology – involving a châtelaine named Carcas, a ruse ending a siege and the joyous ringing of bells (“Carcas sona”) – though memorialized in a neo-Gothic sculpture of Mme. Carcas on a column near the Narbonne Gate, is of modern invention. The name can be derived as an augmentative of the name Carcas.
Carcassonne became strategically identified when Romans fortified the hilltop around 100 BC and eventually made the colonia of Julia Carsaco, later Carcasum (by the process of swapping consonants known as metathesis). The main part of the lower courses of the northern ramparts dates from Gallo-Roman times. In 462 the Romans officially ceded Septimania to the Visigothic king Theodoric II who had held Carcassonne since 453; he built more fortifications at Carcassonne, which was a frontier post on the northern marches: traces of them still stand. Theodoric is thought to have begun the predecessor of the basilica that is now dedicated to Saint Nazaire. In 508 the Visigoths successfully foiled attacks by the Frankish king Clovis. Saracens from Barcelona took Carcassonne in 725, but King Pepin the Short (Pépin le Bref) drove them away in 759-60; though he took most of the south of France, he was unable to penetrate the impregnable fortress of Carcassonne.
A medieval fiefdom, the county of Carcassonne, controlled the city and its environs. It was often united with the County of Razès. The origins of Carcassonne as a county probably lie in local representatives of the Visigoths, but the first count known by name is Bello of the time of Charlemagne. Bello founded a dynasty, the Bellonids, which would rule many honores in Septimania and Catalonia for three centuries. In 1067, Carcassonne became the property of Raimond-Bernard Trencavel, viscount of Albi and Nîmes, through his marriage with Ermengard, sister of the last count of Carcassonne. In the following centuries, the Trencavel family allied in succession either with the counts of Barcelona or of Toulouse. They built the Château Comtal and the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse (more about both of them later). In 1096, Pope Urban II blessed the foundation stones of the new cathedral.
Carcassonne became famous in its role in the Albigensian Crusades, when the city was a stronghold of Occitan Cathars. In August 1209 the crusading army of the Papal Legate,Abbot Arnaud Amalric, forced its citizens to surrender. Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was imprisoned whilst negotiating his city’s surrender, and died in mysterious circumstances three months later in his own dungeon. Simon De Montfort was appointed the new viscount. He added to the fortifications.
In 1240, Trencavel’s son tried to reconquer his old domain but in vain. The city submitted to the rule of the kingdom of France in 1247. Carcassonne became a border fortress between France and the Crown of Aragon under the Treaty of Corbeil (1258). King Louis IX founded the new part of the town across the river. He and his successor Philip III built the outer ramparts. Contemporary opinion still considered the fortress impregnable. During the Hundred Years’ War, Edward the Black Prince failed to take the city in 1355, although his troops destroyed the Lower Town. In 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees transferred the border province of Roussillon to France, and Carcassonne’s military significance was reduced. Fortifications were abandoned, and the city became mainly an economic centre that concentrated on the woollen textile industry, for which a 1723 source quoted by Fernand Braudel found it “the manufacturing centre of Languedoc”. It remained so until the Ottoman market collapsed at the end of the eighteenth century, thereafter reverting to a country town.
Carcassonne was the first fortress to use hoardings in times of siege. Temporary wooden ramparts would be fitted to the upper walls of the fortress through square holes beneath the rampart itself. It provided protection to defenders on the wall and allowed defenders to go out past the wall to drop projectiles on attackers at the wall beneath. The fortified city itself consists essentially of a concentric design of two outer walls with 53 towers and barbicans to prevent attack by siege engines. The castle itself possesses its own drawbridge and ditch leading to a central keep. The walls consist of towers built over quite a long period. One section is Roman and is notably different from the medieval walls with the tell-tale red brick layers and the shallow pitch terracotta tile roofs. One of these towers housed the Catholic Inquisition in the 13th century and is still known as “The Inquisition Tower”.
Carcassonne was struck off the roster of official fortifications under Napoleon and the Restoration, and the fortified cité of Carcassonne fell into such disrepair that the French government decided that it should be demolished. A decree to that effect that was made official in 1849 caused an uproar. The antiquary and mayor of Carcassonne, Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille, and the writer Prosper Mérimée, the first inspector of ancient monuments, led a campaign to preserve the fortress as a historical monument. Later in the year the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, already at work restoring the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, was commissioned to renovate the place. In 1853, works began with the west and southwest walling, followed by the towers of the porte Narbonnaise and the principal entrance to the cité. The fortifications were consolidated here and there, but the chief attention was paid to restoring the roofing of the towers and the ramparts, where Viollet-le-Duc ordered the destruction of structures that had encroached against the walls, some of them of considerable age. Viollet-le-Duc left copious notes and drawings on his death in 1879, when his pupil Paul Boeswillwald, and later the architect Nodet continued the rehabilitation of Carcassonne.
The river Gardon is what give the region its name, Region du Gard, and even if so hot (at the moment a very worrying lack of rain) it’s very beautiful…We spent the morning strolling around the little village of Remoulins, an old place along its banks…
Remoulins is located on the Gardon river, just downstream from the Pont du Gard (another beautiful memory from some years ago). It has a popular river-side beach during the summer, and a very intersting Medieval old village with remnants of fortified walls, towers and a 12th century church,.
It is also been called “capital of cherries ” until 2002, when some floods have ravaged the land dedicated to this crop.
The Salpêtrière grotto is a cave-like shelter near the southeast end of the Pont du Gard, but in the commune of Remoulins. This site was excavated by archeologists from 1872, and revealed a vast amount of Paleolithic artifacts and information. The Sartanette grotto is located more towards Remoulins, 600 m southeast of the end of the Pont du Gard, in the middle of the wooded hills, and accessible only by foot. Excavations began in this deep cave in 1967. Artifacts unearthed here have been dated to about 2300 BC…….it means a lot of lives have been lived along this river and in this place, sometimes it’s almost overwhelming to think about it…
A tribe of Celtic people called the Volques Arécomiques (who founded the town of Nîmes) built an oppidum, in the 4th century BC, on the hill of Marduel, 1 km southwest of the river. The site is now in the commune of St Bonnet-du-Gard.
During the 1st century BC, the Romans built the Uzès-Nîmes aqueduct and the famous Pont du Gard. From the southeast end of the Pont du Gard, the aqueduct zig-zagged through the Remoulins Forest to Lafoux, directly across the river from the town of Remoulins. From Lafoux, the aqueduct turned southwest towards Lédenon (home of a circuit track that we visited the first time we were here. Now it’s open only for races and it can be rented by appointment to private clubs).
The town began in 736 by Charles Martel, who had camped here following his victory over the Saracens. During the 9th and 10th centuries the Saint Martin chapel and the Ferregut mill were built. Remoulins was fortified in the 11th century, with walls and towers. The Notre-Dame de Bethlehem church was built in the 12th century.
We had a little walk along the river left bank (the most shaded) and it was really nice, the breeze brought lots of different flowers and plants smells….it was so refreshing…
For lunch we found a creperie that made all its dishes gluten-free….obviously we obliged! It was so good, we had a “galette bretonne” with potatoes, creme-fraiche and smoked salmon….and a sweet one with strawberry cream and jam as dessert…
In the afternoon the sun was playing hide-and-seek, but it was even hotter if possible, so we thought that maybe, near the water it would have been a little better….it wasn’t but the landscape was amazing…
After a drink break (I really think it was the hottest day of our vacation…) we drove back to our B&B, knowing we had added another pearl to our necklace of travels’ memories…
Clean the leeks by removing the green part.
Cut them in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/10-inch strips.
Then, cut the ham into ½-inch cubes. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a fairly large pan and saute the leeks for a minute.
Add the diced ham and fry for 3 minutes, stirring. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the wine and let evaporate over high heat for 3 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce is smooth.
Reduce heat and cook for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente: reserve a cup of cooking water.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce pan. Also add a couple tbsp of cooking water.
Cook over medium heat: add the beschamel, stirring for a few moments, and finally add the Parmigiano Reggiano.
The foundation of the city is said to have been by Gaius Marius, around 102BC but there is no documentary evidence to support this. A Roman by the name of Peccius fitted out the first salt marsh and gave his name to the Marsh of Peccais. Salt mining started from the Neolithic period and was continued in the Hellenistic period, but the ancient uses of saline have not resulted in any major archaeological discovery. It is likely that any remains were destroyed by modern saline facilities.
The purpose of this tower was part of the war plan and spiritual plan which Charlemagne granted at the Benedictine abbey, dedicated to Opus Dei (work of God) and whose incessant chanting, day and night, was to designate the convent as Psalmody or Psalmodi. This monastery still existed in 812, as confirmed by an act of endowment made by the Badila from Nîmes at the abbey.
At that time, the people lived in reed huts and made their living from fishing, hunting, and salt production from several small salt marshes along the sea shore. The region was then under the rule of the monks from the Abbey of Psalmody.
In 1240, Louis IX, who wanted to get rid of the influence of the Italian navy for transporting troops to the Crusades, focused on the strategic position of his kingdom. At that time, Marseille belonged to his brother Charles of Anjou, King of Naples, Agde, Count of Toulouse, and Montpellier, and King of Aragon. Louis IX wanted direct access to the Mediterranean Sea. He obtained the town and the surrounding lands by exchange of properties with the monks of the abbey. Residents were exempt from the salt tax which was previously levied so that they can now take the salt unconstrained.
He built a road between the marshes and built the Carbonnière Tower to serve as a watchtower and protect access to the city. Saint-Louis then built the Constance Tower on the site of the old Matafère Tower, to house the garrison. In 1272, his son and successor, Philip III the Bold, ordered the continuation of the construction of walls to completely encircle the small town. The work would not be completed for another 30 years. This was the city from which Louis IX twice departed for the Crusades: the Seventh Crusade in 1248 and again for the Eighth Crusade in 1270 for Tunis where he died of dysentery.
The year 1270 has been established, mistakenly for many historians, as the last step of a process initiated at the end of the 11th century. The judgment is hasty because the transfer of crusaders or mercenaries from the harbour of Aigues-Mortes continued after this year. The order given in 1275 to Sir Guillaume de Roussillon by Philip III the Bold and Pope Gregory X after the Council of Lyons in 1274 to reinforce Saint-Jean d’Acre in the East shows that maritime activity continued for a ninth crusade which never took place.
There is a popular belief that the sea reached Aigues-Mortes in 1270. In fact, as confirmed by studies of the engineer Charles Leon Dombre, the whole port of Aigues-Mortes, including the port itself, was in the Marette pond, the Canal-Viel and Grau Louis, the Canal Viel being the access channel to the sea. The Grau-Louis was approximately at the modern location of La Grande-Motte. At the beginning of the 14th century, Philip the Fair used the fortified site to incarcerate the Templars. Between 8 and 11 November 1307, forty-five of them were put to the question, found guilty, and held prisoner in the Tower of Constance.
Aigues-Mortes still retained its privileges granted by the kings. Curiously it was a great Protestant in the person of Jean d’Harambure who said that the one-eyed light horse commander of King Henry IV and former governor of Vendôme should be appointed governor of Aigues-Mortes and the Carbonnière Tower on 4 September 1607. To do this, he took an oath before the Constable of France Henri de Montmorency, Governor of Languedoc. But one Catholic, the Lord of Berichère, supported the rival Adrien de Chanmont. The conflict continued until 1612, and Harambure, supported by the pastors of Lower Languedoc and the inhabitants, finished it by a personal appeal to the Queen. He eventually resigned on 27 February 1615 in favour of his son Jean d’Harambure, but King Louis XIII restored him for six years. On 27 July 1616 he resigned again in favour of Gaspard III de Coligny, but not without obtaining a token of appreciation for the judges and consuls of the city. At the beginning of the 15th century, important works were being undertaken to facilitate access to Aigues-Mortes from the sea. The old Grau-Louis, dug for the Crusades, was replaced by the Grau-de-la-Croisette and a port was dug at the base of the Tower of Constance. It lost its importance from 1481 when Provence and Marseille were attached to the kingdom of France. Only the exploitation of the Peccais salt marshes encouraged François I, in 1532, to connect the salt industry of Aigues-Mortes to the sea. This channel, said Grau-Henry, silted up in turn. The opening, in 1752, of the Grau-du-Roi solved the problem for a while. A final solution was found in 1806 by connecting the Aigues-Mortes river port through the Canal du Rhône à Sète.
From the walls we had a great view of the salt pans, the water pink colored because of some shrimps (the same color they give to the flamingos there – plenty of them).
After lunch we had the chance to see the town from another point of view, by a little train, in and out of the city wall…..shaded this time!
It’s been really a nice day, so full of colors, smells and wind…such a sweet memory to cherish.
Having more time meant we had the chance to spend some visiting specific places, not just strolling around. We remember from our first time a few interesting things and now here we were……First we stopped to visit the Cathedral, four years ago the Mass was held and we couldn’t have a deep look inside….
Uzès Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Théodorit d’Uzès) is a former Roman Catholic cathedral, now a parish church, dedicated to Saint Theodoritus. It was formerly the seat of the Bishops of Uzès, until the diocese was abolished under the Concordat of 1801 and its territory passed to the Diocese of Avignon. In 1877 the territory of the former diocese of Uzès was removed from that of Avignon and added to the Diocese of Nîmes, now the Diocese of Nîmes, Uzès and Alès.
The present building, which was gutted during the French Revolution, and after repair and with the addition of a 19th-century Neo-classical façade is now used as a parish church, dates from the 17th century, and was a rebuild of the previous cathedral, which was destroyed during the French Wars of Religion. That cathedral in its turn had been built to replace a still earlier one which had been destroyed in the 12th century during the Albigensian Crusade. The campanile, the well-known Tour Fenestrelle, is the only part to survive from the medieval structure, although it was previously taller by two storeys.
The interiors were nothing I could have expected, so different from the churches we have in Italy. The balustrade makes this church more alike to a royal palace….
In the reliquary, St. Firmin, Bishop of Uzès from 538 to 553…
After the church, we walked to the castle complex, to have a look at the Medieval Garden….
A part of the castle that includes the Rainon Tower, called the Clock Tower, was sold to the Bishops in the thirteenth century; the other tower was exchanged with King Charles VIII of France in the fifteenth century. Both had their courts and prisons. The rooms served as prisons until 1926, when Uzes lost its status as sub-prefecture. Later they were transformed into reserve space, municipal workshops as well as residences. Abandoned for decades, the restored rooms come alive again through the creation of the Garden in medieval style in 1995.
This garden is a living herbarium. 450 varieties of plants live together and illustrate the many uses that were made of plants in the Middle Ages. The plants’ virtues are ambivalent, labels allow them to be discovered and to differentiate them. Nature does not always respect the established order; the garden plants coexist with some “weeds” and host insects.
In the garden sometimes there are also exhibitions of different kinds, at the time of our visit there was a young local painter vernissage….
Off to the castle nearby….
The Duchy of Uzès is built on an old Roman “Castrum” (camp) which became the residence of the Governor in the first millennium. These wooden constructions have not survived. We do know that Dhuoda, Duchess of Septimanie was exiled here by her husband Bernard in the middle of the ninth century, and that she was the first woman in the Occident to write a book. It was a manual for the education of her son, and it still exists. The architecture of the Duke’s chateau, named the Duchy is a potted history of France. The Middle-Ages, the Renaissance, the 17th century, and modern times are all there. Despite this, the ensemble is pleasing to the eye.
During the difficult times of the Revolution the building was considered as belonging to the nation, and sold. It was much misused, and ended as a school. In 1824 the Duke bought back the Duchy of Uzès from the townspeople (the writer André Gide was one of them) who in buying it had actually protected it. In 1834 a new school was build in Uzes and the Duke set about restoring the Duchy of Uzès. The first part of the 20th century saw sad days for the Duchy of Uzès. In financial difficulty, the Duke sold the furnishings and rented the Duchy of Uzès to the Board of Education who once again installed a school. They did not fulfil their obligation to care for the building and concreted both inside and out. From 1951 the widowed Marchioness of Crussol set about restoring the Duchy of Uzès that she had re-acquired with the help of the Fine Arts Ministry. Aided by her friend André Malraux, Minister of Culture under General de Gaulle, whom she had met in her Political Society Gatherings, she had the town of Uzes classed in 1964 as a heritage site, which greatly helped it after two centuries of being forgotten. Her grandson and his wife, the present Duke and Duchess of Uzes, are continuing the work started by the Marchioness. Since then major work has been done to the building, and furnishings and objects are regularly added to enrich the collections for the pleasure of the visitor. The Duchy of Uzès is a rare example in the 21st century of a family castle being completely restored.
The visit is limited, you can see a lot but not everything because it’s still a private residence….lucky them…There have been some interesting characters to hold the title through the years, including the Duchess Anne, who was initially the heir to the Veuve Cliquot fortune (some fine bottles are in the cave), an adamant huntress who rode until the age of 86, the year before she died. She was also the first woman in France to get a driver’s license and the first to get a speeding ticket too….
The Duchy of Uzès, often called the First Duchy of France, is France’s oldest ducal peerage. The Viscounty of Uzes was elevated to Duchy in 1565, and to the Peerage in 1572 by Charles 1X. Ever since then, the Duke of Uzes, 1st Peer of France, Count of Crussol, Prince of Soyons, takes precedence over all other noble houses of France, both in Parliament and at Coronations. At Court, after the extinction of the Duchy of Montmorency under Louis XIII in 1632, only the Duchy of Trémoille, created in 1563 had precedence, until it became extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, Jacques de Crussol d’Uzes is the 17th Duke.
The Crussol of Uzes coat of arms is emblazoned as seen here in the carpet….. The shield was established by Antoine de Crussol, 1st Duke of Uzes and it has not changed since. The family motto “Ferro non auro” means “iron not gold” as the family comes from a line of warriors rather than from finance.
The entry fee of 18€ (about $20) includes a visit to the private chapel and the cave, a little expensive but….what the hell….
The best part of the visit was from the top of the castle “donjon” (the keep)….exhausting but worth it…
This was the end of our stay in Uzès….for now at least, because the region is worth another visit for sure….