Village & History
Conques-sur-Orbiel | history
The village of Conques sur Orbiel, only 10 minutes from Carcassonne, dates back to early medieval times and still retains its fortified centre with the ruined Chateau at its heart. Many of the old houses are built into the ancient fortified walls of the village. Medieval towers still guard the ramparts. Walking around the village there are dates set in stone on ancient door knockers giving clues to the history of Conques.
Conques is the french for a conch shell. Fresh water conch shells were to be found in the clear waters of the Orbiel river. The purity of the water of the Orbiel was the reason the medieval textile industry flourished here at the Chateau de Saptes in the village of Conques.
Conques-sur-Orbiel | Amenities
On Sundays from 7am-1pm there is a charming small market, selling artisan bread, olives, fruit and vegetables.
There are two restaurants and a post office in the old village. A collection of shops including a greengrocer selling fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses etc, a bar and brasserie, a pizza restaurant and a boulangerie are on the edge of the village. There are also local tennis courts open all year round.
carcassonne & cathar castles
The first glimpse of the Cité of Carcassonne took my breathe away. It is not a ruin but a complete medieval cité straight from a fairy tale. You can imagine Rapunzel letting down her long plaited hair from the top of one of the many turreted towers.
Explore the cobbled streets and ramparts of this amazing world heritage site and begin to discover the history of the Cathars, a medieval Christian sect who inhabited this region 1000 years ago.
There are many castles and fortifications to discover within an hour of Carcassonne. The village of Lastours, the next village to Conques Sur Orbiel, has 4 magical ruined castles which have been besieged, raised and rebuilt over the last 10 centuries. Take a walk from the museum up into the hills above the village to explore the chateaux of Lastours.
canal du midi
In complete contrast to the jagged ruins of the Cathar castles perched on the hill tops around Carcassonne is the tranquil world of the Canal du Midi, a world heritage site. A canal to join the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea was the vision of Pierre Paul Riquet, a 17th century engineer. Riquet, nicknamed the ‘Moses of the Languedoc’ sacrificed everything for his project, his time, his family and his fortune.
The Canal du Midi is not only an amazing feat of engineering but also a work of art. Lined with 300 year old trees, 63 beautiful locks and crossed by many simple stone bridges make it a perfect destination for walkers and cyclists. The traditional barges, Penichettes, now carry tourists for a peaceful cruise at the speed of a walking horse. There are canal side restaurants and cafes in pretty villages from Toulouse to the Mediterranean coast.