Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Château de Fressac, Gard, France

The Château de Fressac overlooks the valley and small village of Durfort in Gard, near the foothills in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France. This military castle was constructed in the early 1200s, served to guard the valley and was a place of refuge for centuries. By the 1600s it was finally abandoned, sold to private hands, and centuries later the owners bequeathed the edifice and land to the Commune de Fressac (1992).

The castle was well constructed, with a series of outer walls constructed of quarried stone and gates protected by iron porticoes and bends which gave the strategic advantage to those inside. The castle never fell to invaders, but this may be partly due to its relatively modest importance.

The stony path to the castle begins in the village cemetery and requires a climb of about an hour. Although the modest castle is now in disrepair, the climb is worth the effort. It is safe to explore the thick stone outer walls, view the upper walls constructed from stones gathered from the rocky hillside, and investigate where stables and rooms used to be. Enough of the structures remain to let us imagine what life might have been like in this desolate wind-swept hilltop abode. The views of the valley, some seemingly stretching to the Mediterranean, are magnificent.