Au Petit Verger

Local History and main historical sites


This area is so steeped in history that a comprehensive list of things to do or see would be virtually impossible to compile and certainly on a web site which serves a different purpose.


In the Pyrenees evidence of the dinosaurs has been found and several centres are dedicated to them such as Dinosauria in Esperaza just down the road from here. Esperaza also boasts a thriving Sunday market.


Early man had a presence in the area and some of the oldest cave paintings in the world are to be found nearby. The Parc de Pre Histoire at Tarascon is a great day out for the children and the European Centre for Pre History at Tautavel is just fascinating.


In more modern times, well around one thousand years ago, the crusades and the inquisition cut down the freedoms of the Cathars who had there own brand of Catholicism in the area. They lived in many of the magnificent chateaux that dot the landscape. The crusades gave rise to remarkable legends such as that told about the ending of the seige at Montsegur. At the same time the Troubadours were laying the foundations for the revolution in art and music we call the rennaisance.


Stories persist that Mary Magdalen may well have travelled to the area after the crucifixion of Christ and that the Holy Grail accounts for a sudden increase in the wealth of a previously poor village called Rennes Le Chateau. There is certainly a law preventing people digging in the area.


In more recent times the area was a hotbed of resistance to the German occupying forces during World War Two and many sites are preserved from those times. The best known local site is L'Escale where because of the strength and persistence of the resistance displayed by the villagers, the Germans blew up every house on one day the 6th August 1944. This accounts for all the roofs in the village being comparatively modern.


On this page I have not had the room to dwell on the natural features of the area such the Gorges or caves that abound or the more relaxed pleasurable pursuits such as swimming in the various lakes but many other sites designed for the purpose do just that. Visit our overview page for more information.