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Languedoc sites of geological interest


Cazo, 24 kb

Late Cretaceous limestone ridges near St. Chinian.

General information on the region: its geography, geology and culture.

Geological sites to visit

  1. Just north of the A9 2 km NW of Mèze - La Plaine des Dinosaures. Nests being discovered all the time on site and displays of bones traded from other sites.

  2. Cap d’Agde. Quaternary volcano

  3. Oppidum d’Enserune. An excellent viewpoint, as well as a fascinating archaeological site.

  4. Sallèles d’Aude Roman Pottery – basin clay ideal for making amphorae, roof tiles etc.

  5. St. Chinian area - Pierrerue site of bauxite, red tropical Cretaceous soil developed on Lower Jurassic limestones.

  6. Caunes-Minervois marble quarry on local road NE of town but west of small gorge from N.D. de Cros - walk up forest rd to steep cliff (columns for Versailles)

  7. Esperaza – D118 south of Carcassonne and Limoux. Dinosaur bones and nests are being discovered in the soft Cretaceous soil to the west and in the old station is an excellent small dinosaur museum.

  8. Rennes-les-Bains. Mineralisation in a number of spots in the area, hot springs. (village pictures)

  9. Gorges de Galamus - very twisty and narrow.

  10. Chateau de Quéribus.

  11. Chateau de Peyrepertuse. (view from Peyrepertuse to Quéribus)

  12. SE of Durban on the D77. Cuts on east side of road contain highly deformed Triassic gypsum with bipyramidal quartz. Please don't hammer the outcrop!

    Durban Keuper - 24 kb

  13. Albas. Long south-facing hill on D106 just south of D40. Excellent outcrops of late Cretaceous to early Tertiary conglomerates, sandstones and siltstones, deposited by ancient river systems.

  14. Fossils on D322 between Jonquières and Coustouge. Outcrops on south side of the road contain Eocene marine foraminifera, corals, gastropods etc.

  15. St. Victor Hermitage. Narrow, twisty road (accessible by car) to fire tower and hermitage. Superb all round views. Views north to Boutenac, thrusted from south east and west to sides of gentle anticline of ancient lake limestone. Terroir de St Victor.

  16. Fontfroide. Ancient abbey with slices of Lower Cretaceous thrust over Upper Cretaceous. Rudist reefs in front.

  17. Terra Vinea (Caves Rocbère). Underground gypsum quarry storing wine now - Sigean exit of A9.

Peyrepertuse, 90 kb

Of the mountain top castles, in fact, it was Peyrepertuse - at the top of a 2,625-foot crag in the Corbières - that helped me most fully appreciate the drama of Cathar country. The ruins of Peyrepertuse are more extensive and better preserved than those of any other Cathar castle. Entire rooms are still standing. Above the main gate is a guardpost with a stone bench, whole enough that one can easily imagine a medieval soldier sitting there, watching for approaching crusaders.

Here and at all remote castles sites, the trail to the top is steep and rocky. Don't expect handrails except in the most precipitous spots during the half-hour to hour climbs. I'd advise getting into pretty good shape, wearing sturdy hiking shoes, and carrying a water bottle. Of course, maybe I'm just being overly cautious. Elderly men and women, some using canes, seemed to make it up even the longest and steepest trails - those at Montségur and Peyrepertuse - with little problem.

Dorothy Satterfield

Last updated 22 January, 2009 at 22:17