We chose our wonderful little campsite because of its proximity to Cordes, which is a defended medieval town high up on a hill.
The town was built so defensively because it was created by the heretic Cathar counts of Toulouse (are you remembering your 'Labyrinth', ladies?). It thrived as a wealthy Cathar centre for commerce and art, well beyond the tragic events described in Labyrinth.
It grew very quickly, with the first castle-wall becoming obsolete as more and more houses and shops were built outside the wall, so that a second, more inclusive castle-wall, was later built around the whole town.
Thus, when you climb up, you go through a series of gateways. This one was called the Clock Gate, of course,
and next to it was this Clock Shop - belonging to a clock restorer who specialises in a traditional form of brass French clock, and who spent a happy time showing Son 1 how they all worked. It was lovely to see a specialist who wanted to share his enthusiasm with younger people. He pronounced Son 1 a clockmaker's apprentice!
Both on the way up and inside the main town area, there are many, many shops run by artists and artisans.
Painted banners flutter throughout the whole town.
But sculpture was the most obvious art-form, even before we started our climb.
Son 2 and I are pretty certain this bagpipe-playing chair-man is, in fact, Beaker from the Muppet Show.Son 1 says that these are NOT proper Greek Mythology. Humph.
After a good wander round (curtailed by a certain resistance towards looking round old towns from the boys!), we started back down the hill roads.
The boys found the gradient...
... a lot more fun on the way down!
Ben and I really wanted to see some more, so we all went back the following evening for a walk around the back streets and a meal.
We chose different routes up and were rewarded with lots of interesting sights.
Since the middle of the 20th century, Cordes has been refurbished and a lot of money has gone into doing up individual houses by those who are interested in its history and in the art and music of its current life. We did see some houses still in a very battered state, and I was very interested to meet a mum from MOPS at the Sunday Vide Grenier, who told me that she and her husband were doing up one of the ruined houses there! Wow...
A town in the sky...