Foothold on Puilaurens Castle

Lapradelle Puilaurens 1 day

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Tried and tested for you by
sYLVAIN, fan of sheer drops
Soak up the medieval atmosphere of an iconic fortress of Cathar Country! Puilaurens Castle, one of the so-called “vertiginous citadels” clings to the top of a vertical rock face. Its walls and towers bear the marks of time and the history they’ve witnessed. A fabulous setting for a trip back to your childhood… Can you find the “secret” passageways that lead to some dizzying panoramic views?

01 Highlight

Perched high on its rock...

An awe-inspiring sight

Once past Quillan, the road narrows. The tight gorges give this fascinating landscape a wilderness feel. The scene is set! After a little more winding through the forest, the castle suddenly appears, standing majestically above a sheer drop! A silhouette of towers and crenellations emerges like a shadow puppet in front of the rising sun. The overall picture just grips you! This wonderful landscape oozes with power, beauty and serenity.
Chemin pédestre menant au château de Puilaurens ©Vincent Photographie

Vertigo & greenery

Forget the flip-flops! For the approach ascent you’ll need proper walking shoes and a good dose of courage. Children will be captivated by the treasure hunt that explores the vegetation found along the shady path. This magnificent site is well worth the effort!

Did you know?
Alongside the Citadel of Carcassonne and 6 other fortresses, Puilaurens is in the running for the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Support the “Carcassonne & the Vertiginous Citadels” candidature

Vue sur le village de Lapradelle-Puilaurens ©Vincent Photographie

A top favourite

“Puilaurens by night”
At nightfall you’ll see the castle in a different light, undulating under the projectors...

lapradelle puilaurens, chateau de nuit

02Highlight

Impregnable fortress

On the defensive...

The first stones of the citadel emerge! Just outside the barbican, an impressive flight of fortified steps zigzags up towards the ramparts and towers. The journey through time has begun…
Chemin pédestre menant au château de Puilaurens ©Vincent Photographie
Visite du Château de Puilaurens ©Vincent Photographie

To arms!
Before you know it, the children are defending the castle with a shower of imaginary arrows, while their parents attempt to conquer the fortress, level by level, dodging left and right amid the euphoria of medieval battle! The access path is protected by a spectacular system of defences. The parents surrender to the victorious defenders. The fortress is truly impregnable!

See you at the castle!

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Stories from history

But where is Sleeping Beauty? Impatient to see inside this mysterious castle? The arched doorway leads to the main courtyard. These walls and towers tell many historical tales but are worn by the passage of time. This is no Disney castle!
Visite du Château de Puilaurens à Lapradelle ©Vincent Photographie

Just as it should be!
The fortress is in a good state of repair so it’s easy to imagine what the castle looked like, with the timber wall walk, entrance steps, flooring and even flags flying proudly in the wind at the top of the towers.

Our tip
To explore the castle at your own pace, avoid visiting in August. The best time to be here is early or late in the day, to see it under the rising or setting sun!
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03 Highlight

Dizzying panoramic views...

A “secret” passageway!

The overexcited children spot it across the courtyard. A postern which leads to a lookout point. The view will take your breath away. Just as in Medieval times, this aerial view covers the village, mountains, forests, rocks and cliff faces that form the incredible landscape of the valley below.
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Lapradelle-puilaurens, chateau

The wow effect!

The rampart crenellations tower above a sheer drop…
Vertiginous!

The castle’s defensive location is absolutely amazing. You must take a look!

Keep your eye on the children, as the rocks can be slippery.

For hikers

The Cathar Trail (GR®367 long-distance hiking itinerary) takes you to the foot of the castle. This 250-km trail visits the Vertiginous Citadels in 12 stages. A unique adventure between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees.

Randonnée sur le Sentier Cathare en direction du Château de Puilaurens ©Sylvain Dossin

A fabulous playground!

For the young at heart, this maze of narrow corridors make a fabulous playground. Take your time, explore every mysterious nook and cranny, discover “secret” passages and soak up every fascinating detail.
This beautiful stone structure plunges visitors into the Middle Ages. Look through an arrow slit, you may even see the miller and his mule coming up the track with their load of fresh bread. This is sure to amuse the children: a live demonstration of how the machicolations helped defend the castle.

04 Highlight

Mystic atmosphere...

The atmosphere changes, becoming mystical as a light mist begins to drape the castle. Up in the clouds, the magic operates! Could this be the White Lady who, as legend has it, comes on moonlit nights to spread her misty veil over the wall walk of the crumbling ramparts?

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This is a fabulous castle to visit and definitely our favourite. We recommend it without hesitation!

Did you know?

An unusual megaphone
The Tower of the White Lady comprises two floors with a listening channel dug inside the wall to allow communication between the two floors.
This feature is a rarity!

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Board the train at the village station!

Yes! Not so fast...

Don’t leave without stopping at the village of Lapradelle-Puilaurens. The village is crossed by the River Boulzane as well as the legendary red train of Cathar Country and the Fenouillèdes region, which has been carrying visitors here for over two centuries.
lapradelle-puilaurens, gare

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Try the experience yourself...

Hotels, restaurants, activities, getaway ideas… see our favourite addresses to ensure you get the most out of your experience nearby Puilaurens Castle

CHÂTEAU DE PUILAURENS

Castles and defenses sites PUILAURENS

From 6€

CHEZ JULOU ET ROSALIE

Furnished accommodation PUILAURENS

From 595€ per week

HOSTELLERIE DU GRAND DUC

Hotel-restaurant GINCLA

Getting here

By car

From Carcassonne, Limoux, Quillan or Perpignan, follow the D117 to the village of Puilaurens, then take the D22 to Puilaurens Castle car park.

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