Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Ruins of Chateau de Montferrand

Last weekend on Sunday, I went on a little excursion to the ruins of Château de Montferrand with my host dad, host brother, and Merrill (a friend in my program that I’ve know since freshman year). Merrill and I were very excited to finally see a castle, even though it is in ruins. This castle in particular dates back to the middle ages and is situated on what I call a “mini-mountain” next to Pic Saint Loup and les falaises d’Hortus (falaises = cliffs). Here is a good website showing the location and other pictures of the castle. This castle, like many in the region, was destroyed during the Albigensian crusades to eradicate the Cathars.

As I said this castle was on top of what looked like a mini-mountain, so we had to hike up to it. The path was not extremely steep but it was full of rocks to you had to watch your feet the whole time as you went up. There were some particularly athletic people running up and down the path. We thought they were crazy! The path we took actually was used in the middle ages and in the areas that were more preserved you could see where the wheel of the carts had made indents into the stone from lots of use. The hike to the top only took about 45 minutes, but at the begging Merrill and I thought we were going to die because we were tired from the night before and we are both clumsy when it comes to walking on large, loose rocks!

Once we got to the top we were definitely happy we went through with the hike! The view of the surrounding lands was amazing! It was a little hazy because it was rainy the night before, so unfortunately my photos don’t look as good as the real thing did.

Pic Saint Loup in the hazy background

Me entering a little door

Inside the ruins

An opening that looked out onto the country side. We all had such a good time exploring the ruins! The cliffs were a little vertigo inducing at times, but it was just so cool to walk around a building that old and with such an interesting history. We also found many random holes and some underground rooms that were safe enough to go into.
Here is a snapshot of my brother posing on the ruins...on the other side there is a cliff! Scary! Anyway, at the beginning he was complaining about the hike once he saw how long it would take to get up there and that his dad has dragged him to too many castles. However, once we got up there he would run ahead of us and climb up ruins and all we would hear was "WHOA" or "C'est magnifique!". So, even those not fond of history...or hiking should definitely visit this castle, or another in the region, if they get the chance.

"Minnesota Princesses" as my host dad called us

Now for just a few random updates. My second week of classes went well, except for the having to do homework part. This Monday or Tuesday we have to go into the office and finalize our registration slips. So, I will for sure be taking the classes I described in the previous. The weather at the end of the week and this weekend has been fabulous! about 60 degrees and sunny! Its really weird to think that it's still super cold in MN and that many other states are getting ridiculous amounts of snow. This last bit of info is mainly for my mom, but last night my host family and I had raclette for dinner! For those of you who don't know, raclette is cheese but also a dish where you melt the cheese and eat it alongside potatoes, cornichons, pickled onions, sour cream, and different dried meats. My host family must really like this meal because they have a big oval hotplate like appliance where everyone has a place to put their own individual pan of cheese in! Much more extravagant then when my mom makes it, but it still made me miss home a little bit. That's all for now! Bisous!

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