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The Chateau of  Pézènes (9.– 11. century)

extract of a report from 1759:
«There is a very old chateau in Pézènes ( 9. – 12. century.) most walls are 9 feet strong and in very good condition. Behind the walls there is an arsenal with many old and unique weapons. 

All kinds of weapons, arrows and helmets can be found here and much more. The chateau, although very well-fortified must have been even more fortified in the past because it had several small forts that don´t exist any more. Each entrance is protected by a double wall which can only be crossed via draw-bridge
There is a communal oven, a cistern and a big quern for grain which can be found in the vaults of one of the towers.  One of the three towers bears an enormous attic. The tower has arrow slits, the two other towers are round. Each of the towers has got defence constructions for  the event of a possible attack.

.Chateau of Pézènes

Two terrasses of great beauty at  the back of the chateau are leading to an airy pavilion  Both terrasses are  about 100 fathoms long and 3 fathoms wide. The first one is overgrown with orange trees and has a nice trellis of the best fruit trees  and the second one is covered in laurel palisade, not to forget the various promenades, a rabbit warren and high forest. 
The chateau is a private property and can not be visited.

Notre-Dame d'Ourgas in Les Montades (9. – 12. century)

Notre-Dame d'Ourgas (Les Montades) This church is one out of 86 «with square top end» in the Hérault. The building with trimmed quarrystone of volcanic origin could be Carolingian. It could have  replaced another destroyed  building dating back to the beginning of Christianity. This church has kept its priviledge as parish church with a cemetary since the beginning. In the 12th century vaults were built and on the south side a door was opened.

Today the association of friends of Ourgas «l'Association des Amis d'Ourgas» takes care of the renovation and maintenace of the site. 

If you fancy to visit the church, please don´t hesitate to ask the locals  for the keys.

Virgin with child from the 12th century Notice the fixtures of a previous door on the outside wall on the west side and the narrow windows. In the nave there was a well which has been filled-up in the past and dates back to the beginning of the Christian cult. It is remarkable that the floor of the church lies 70 cm lower than earth´s surface.

In an alcove there is a remarkable stone statue «Virgin with child»from the 12th century.The corners of the base are designed as dog´s heads ( our loved virgin, protector of canin madness)

The choir is slightly twisted out of axis. The window replaces obviously a simple chamfered opening.The triumphal arch rests on columns with indirect light borders. (Barbarian style?)

Cisterns

village well Many villages only received a water supply system in the 50-es of the last century. Before that people had to fetch their daily water ration from natural sources or wells. Those villages without groundwater, sources or wells had to find other ways of water supply. They collected rainwater to satisfy their thirst.  Each residential building and farmbuilding was therefore equipped with a cistern in order to collect rainwater from the roof. The water was then filtered with charcoal  before use.  Some wells can still be seen in Pézènes and it´s hamlets.

Communal ovens

Bread has always been a symbol of sharing and each village has it´s own communal oven which was named  "four banal" (=oven for everyday use). It allowed the inhabitants to produce the most important staple food ogether. Role allocation was clearly defined. The women kneaded the dough while the men baked the bread which spread out this wonderful scent which can still be found in some French bakeries. The communal oven in Les Montades has recently been reconstructed. Communal oven of Les Montades

Village houses

The way of building houses is evidence of everyday life in the country. The piedmontese houses of the High-Lanquedoc duck down each other, their massive and rectangular shape sometimes spreads over three levels, each of which has a certain function. Depending on the proprietor`s job the ground level was used as a shop, as a storage room for perishable foods or as a sheep shelter. The living area was on the first floor while the third level was used as storage room for corn, chestnuts and other dried foods, or even for hay and straw.  Houses in Pézènes

Windmill in Faugères

Mills

Around the Mediterranean the water mill was first built in the 1st century b. Chr. Windmills were more frequent. At first they were completely turnable, depending on the directionof the wind , later only the top and the wings were turnable. Even the smallest stream was feeding a mill in an area where water and wind were equally irregularly available. Water or windmill, even if they stopped working today, could tell a lot about life in history..

Charcoal stack

Charcoal stack in Fos

The people from Languedoc made fire with all sorts of wood which they found plentiful in the forests. On some particular points, stacks were built for the mining of charcoal. The first charcoal stacks already smoked in prehistoric times and have added to deforestation over the centuries. The deforested areas turned into heathland (garrigue). In the 17./18th century the charburner trade was carried out on a big scale and in the 19th century it grew to one of the most important economic factors of the region. The reconstruction of a charcoal stack can be visited at the village entrance of Fos.. .

Dry stone buildings

During the  18. and 19.th century the winegrowers made areas accessible which had not been used by their ancestors.  The last reclaimable area required remarkable effort to receive and conserve a thin layer of fertile soil on the steep slope of the mountains.Thousands of kilometers of walls were piled up and terraced. The stones from the agricultural land were used as building material. The looks of the landscape have very much changed in these days.  

Dry stone walls

Dry stone wall
Those piled up stone hills are evidence of tireless work of the inhabitants with this mineral, be it at the edge of the plateaus, for land reclamation by piling up stone walls near slopes,  or small stone walls which delimit the lots. A great number of dry stone piles are found everywhere in the country, forming the typical mediterranean looks of the landscape. 

«Capitelles»

Capitelle in Faugères

inside

In the center of these landscapes, where hedges attract lizards, dry piled shelters raise, single or in groups, seaming the agricultutal area since time immemorial. Today most of the agricultural land lies idle. Material for these shelters can be found everywhere: slates of different thickness, depending on the use for walls or roof. The traditional method of piling up and toothing the vaults without wooden frames, dates back to prehistoric, mediterranean knowledge. Apart from its function as shelter for man and tools they were also used for quarantain in times of the plaque. Historical findings and tools from fire stone let assume that the construction dates back to the stone age. The construction and its balance make these huts be real monuments of the tradition in this area, especially in Villespassans, Saint-Chinian and Faugères , where they are called "carabelles".

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