Quercorb straddles the regions of the Aude and the Ariège, in the piedmont plain of the Pyrenees. "Quer" (rock) and "corb" (curve), denote the curved rock of a castle-city in 1002, as the origin of the name "Quercorb". In this small region, History came to Puivert Castle, but it is music that gives this area its identity. This musical identity has two origins: firstly, the performance of poems by the troubadour Péire d'Alvernhe, who wanted a gathering of the most prestigious troubadours in the 12th century, and secondly, the presence of a magnificent "musicians' room" in the castle keep. Moving towards the present day, the history of Quercorb has been shaped by a strong development in the craft industry. In the 18th century, each village was known for a particular craft: "Rivel de las esquèlhas e de las semals" ("Rivel for cowbells and harvest buckets"), "A Puègvert, fan flabutas e robinhòlas" ("Puivert for flutes and taps"), etc. Blacksmiths, bucket makers, comb makers and knifemakers worked in the villages until the 20th century. This know-how is on display at the Quercorb Museum, where you can also hear troubadour music.
In the kitchen, with one eye on the children's games, and the other on the meal simmering in the corner, women deftly sew heavy quilts. Meanwhile, in the forge, (another vital place for daily life), tools are being repaired. In the workshop, the woodturner works with box, ash, beech and hazel wood to create coat racks, quills, dibbles (a pointed tool for making holes in the ground for seeds or young plants), faucets, tool sleeves etc. Depending on the period, people would have also worked with jet stone, made wooden combs or famous cowbells etc. This museum brings to life the world of these jobs, tools and craftspeople.
The instrument room
Musicians playing bagpipes, flutes, tambourines, portable organs, fiddles, psalteries, gitterns, lutes and rebecs. There are eight lovely sculpted musicians in the castle keep at Puivert, and we can almost imagine them playing. Of course, we wanted to hear them in real life. Therefore, each instrument has been analysed and carefully reconstructed, after much work spanning archaeology, musicology, organology and iconography. You can see them, but that's not all! Listen carefully, the troubadours are finally singing their love songs...
With pear trees, plum trees, apple trees and cherry trees galore, it's clear that Puivert loves its orchards. Every resident has their own trees to grow fruit and make jam, compote and eau-de-vie. In winter, Aristide, the travelling distiller passes through, even to this day, to carry out this "alembic" operation, that the orchard and a video will explain.
Things to explore
As you walk
The Troubadour Trail leads from the museum to the castle. Nine panels intersperse your walk, and recount the history of the troubadours and the court society where they emerged. At the end of the path, the powerful outer wall of this medieval castle protects the curtain wall and the solid keep. Inside are beautiful rooms and gentle musicians...
You can reach this lake from the museum by taking the Sentier des Métiers, of blacksmiths, musicians and seamstresses, which will take you to the edge of this enchanting little bathing lake. Opposite are high hills, where paragliders take off. Beyond, the Sault plateau extends to Donezan and then to Capcir.
Chalabre castle has an amusement park, where jousting, fighting and knighting take place, and you can try archery, heralding and ancient games. As you leave the castle, there is a walk with 30 information panels about this traditional fortified town. Four pathways have replaced the Medieval outer wall and form a circuit of the town. Stay cool in the shade of bicentennial plane trees.
The green labyrinth
In this dark space, small and twisted trees search for the light, contorted into strange shapes. The rocks are covered in moss, the trunks are clothed in lichen. In the unexpected clearings, the limestone is bleached white, with the traces of the water that has sculpted it still visible. Return into the cool woods, with young oaks and hazel trees... have you encountered a passing fairy, or is it a genette scampering past? Have some goblins left the Brocéliande forest to come and whistle here in the wind? Let your imagination run wild as you walk along the Nature de Nébias trail, close to Puivert.
This natural, undoubtedly swampy, lake probably once extended across the entire Puivert plain, before allegedly disappearing on the 16th June 1289, when the lake burst its banks, and its water surged at the same time as heavy rainfall flooded the country. As a result, Mirepoix, 30km away, was flooded. Another theory suggests that this lake was slowly and deliberately drained to irrigate arable land, thus giving rise to new hamlets, which are spread around this former lake, and all bear a name with the prefix 'camp' (hamlet).