Serres from the air
Editing and Direction: Ian Beushaw
Music © David Gilmour – Smile from “On
Photos of Serres Xmas Eve 2017
Le Chateau d'Arques
Situated 4.4 km from our front door, and walkable in just under an hour, the chateau is a well preserved example of a defended country house in the French style, with a symmetrical surrounding wall (enceinte) and a high defendable keep in the centre. Local villagers would retire inside the enceinte if danger threatened and wave at attackers from the battlements.
Building started on it in 1284. It was besieged and severely damaged during the Huguenot Wars and has now been taken over by a joint venture of private support and the commune. It has been listed by the French Ministry of Culture as an ancient monument and has benefitted from restoration. It is open to the public for a small charge – please refer to http://www.chateau-arques.fr/ for current opening times and fees (6€ adult).
While technically 8 km away from the village, a lot of this is uphill, so we would recommend driving unless you are a serious hiker. It is well worth the drive, however, with some fantastic views across the countryside and the village church of Saint Mary Magdalene, the Tour Magdala and the Villa Bethania.
Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” was the last in a series of both erudite texts and pulp fiction to feature Rennes-le-Château and there are calculated to be about 100,000 tourists passing through each year as a result of the mysteries alluded to. I doubt that you will be the person who actually finds the Arc of the Covenant up there, but that shouldn’t stop you trying.
Have a look at the Wikipedia page ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rennes-le-Ch%C3%A2teau ) if this is all news to you. Me, I go up there for the view and can understand why Saunière's interest in the site was piqued.
This is another historical town, with evidence that the Romans enjoyed the natural thermal spring water to be found here. The old baths were closed years ago but a modern spa has been established to provide the benefits of the natural “cure”.
Rennes-les-Bains is just over 4 km from our house, but like Rennes-les-Château, you need to have good legs to walk up the steep road so a car is advised – or ask us to take you there and walk back.
Rennes-les-Bains features in the novel by Dan Brown mentioned above, but more so in the Kate Mosse book “Sepulchre”.
More details can be found on the official town website http://www.renneslesbains.org/
Coustaussa sits on the other side of the Sals valley to Rennes-les-Château and if you walk or cycle from the house to Couiza there is an amazing panorama at one point where you can see both spots. It has a ruined château which is listed as one of the Cathar Castles. It is a small hillside town which still attracts a number of tourists because of the ruins. Again, the village is 4.5 km away from our front door, up a hill.
Espéraza is 15 mins away by car, and is always worth a visit, particularly on a Sunday where the Hippy Market brings plenty of characters into the town. There are a number of decent bars and cafés which allow you to sit and watch this particularly varied world go by.
During the rest of the week it is more noted for Dinosauria, the regional museum of fossilised reptile bones, and the Hat Museum, in the site of the last hattery in the town. More details of both on the web pages below.
We get a lot of our local cheese from “Denis le Fromage” who visits this market on a Sunday.