Quillan Cloudy 13°C
Puivert CastleTwenty minutes from Quillan, towards Foix, this stately residence with its 35-metre high keep and 6 towers dominates the Puivert-Nébias plain. Puivert castle’s huge courtyard evokes the jousting tournaments so loved by knights whilst its hall calls to mind the Troubadours’ poetic songs. Situated where the river forks between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, Puivert was, in the Middle Ages, an important Quercorb seigneury.
In the 11th and 12th centuries, the Quercorb – the region of Chalabre and Puivert – was under the authority of the Houses of Toulouse and Carcassonne-Béziers. In the 12th century, the Congosts, the lords of Puivert, were Cathar protectors. Taken by the Crusades in 1210, Puivert castle became the property of two French Lords, first of all Lambert de Thury and then Pons de Bruyères. During the Occitan counter-conquest in 1220, the site was liberated by Loup de Foix. At the beginning of the 14th century, a new castle was built. The sculpted decoration in the Musicians’ Hall in the keep demonstrates how sophisticated the new castle was, intended to be a stately residence rather than a fortress. The sculptures depict a bagpipe player, a drummer, a hurdy-gurdy player, a lutenist, a harp player and a zither player.
The Quercorb museum, dedicated to everyday life in the region, is also in the village of Puivert. The remains of a former forge can be seen there, as well as a rural kitchen. The second floor houses a gallery of instruments, dedicated to the medieval period with reproductions of eight musical instruments. The last gallery presents a model of Puivert castle, as well as moulds of the sculptures in the Musicians’ Hall in the castle.
The Legend of the White Lady
In former times, Puivert castle stood above a huge and marvellous lake. An illustrious princess from Aragon had taken up residence in Puivert castle on the invitation of Jean de Bruyère, master of the castle in the 13th century. The princess fell under the charm of the castle but, even more so, of the lake that laid under its towers. She took pleasure in meditating at the lake, always dressed in white, and thus she became known as "the white lady”. She loved to sit on a rock hollowed in the form of an armchair. There she spent long hours contemplating the lapping of the water, bathed in the peace of the place or marvelling at the sunsets over the lake. She stayed there often, sitting on her stone throne, surrounded by villagers. On stormy evenings the waters of the lake swelled and covered the lady’s seat. So the white lady became sad and went back to the castle. In order to make this beauty smile again, Jean de Bruyère opened the breach in the natural dam. Unfortunately the breach in the rock made it fragile so that, with the weight of the water, it gave way completely. The resulting flood engulfed the towns of Chalabre and Mirepoix. According to the legend, the white lady, along with the servants, was taken by the fury of the water and, to this day, whenever it rains in Puivert, she can be seen at one of the castle windows.