Friday, 21 September 2012

V Puilaurens & Rennes le Chateau

We did not leave the chateau until just after midnight last night. Today is the day we are meeting the enigmatic author of the best selling book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Henry Lincoln. 

In the 1970’s his book put Rennes le Chateau on the map and Dan Brown's novel further drew attention to the Mary Magdalene mystery that dwells in, and haunts the Lanuguedoc Roussillon and particularly Cathar Country. Who was this black virgin we had seen in the restaurant at Monsegur?

In the morning we visited the chateau of Puilaurens which was just a half hour drive away.  Or it would have been if there were not some film makers there moving the road signs around. The climb was an easy one.


Puilaurens
The path up to Puilaurens



A wide path with a cleared and planted border with signs showing the species of trees. It was very pleasant. The last little bit of the climb became a little bit more steep and ‘exciting’.

Puilaurens is also in a site of exceptional beauty with swathes of unspoilt forest and countryside all around.  

Puilaurens
Puilaurens
      

Puilaurens
Puilaurens

A particular point of interest is a medieval listening tube built into the stonework between floors of a tower and there is the story of the ghost of Blache de Bourbon, a relative of the King of France married off to Peter the Cruel of Castille - who lived up to his name. She stayed here on her way to her wedding, and her death. 


Puilaurens
Puilaurens view of the courtyard from the keep


View of Lapradel from Puilaurens

Puilaurens

After an easy descent we made our way to Rennes le chateau and lunch in a beautiful shady garden there. Henry Lincoln was waiting for us in the garden when we arrived seated with his Apple Mac computer and plastified drawings ready to divulge his trail of observations and deductions.


Rennes le Chateau
James with Henry Lincoln

He is a man of incredible energy and enthusiasm. Between cigarettes he talked to us for over an hour on the principles of deduction, his thinking and approach to riddles before taking us on a tour through the museum around the church and even around the actual domaine where the Abbe Sauniere lived with his house keeper Marie.


Rennes le Chateau
Rennes le Chateau


In the extraordinary little church Lincoln explained many curious features which suggested that the Abbe Sauniere’s beliefs were, regardless of whether his extraordinary wealth came form black masses, grave robbing or blackmailing the Vatican, not quite orthodox.


Rennes le Chateau
Rennes le Chateau


I particularly liked the one about the image of Mary Magdalene drying Christ’s feet with her hair being hidden and revealed by the altar’s monstrance. 


Rennes le Chateau

Yet again everything went so smoothly and we were back at the hotel in good time to shower and get ready for a very special meal at a gourmet chateau nearby.

We tasted rabbit, foie gras, seafood and with a desert wine, a local speciality from the town of Maury. It was very delicious and a very charming setting and only a short drive from the hotel.

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