We came home yesterday after two weeks in the South East of France. It was the third year we’d rented the same house in Arce, near Limoux, but there are still many more beautiful villages, interesting ruins, magic landscapes, vegetable markets and other beautiful spots to explore. One of our first visits was to Château de Saissac, one of the many castles in the region controlled by the Cathars, a Christian religion that became a powerful challenger to Catholicism in the early 13th century in the south of France. This led to the Albigensian Crusade and many atrocities committed while trying to convert or subdue the heretics. The massacre at Montsegur in 1244 is one of the most infamous acts of that time. Approximately 220 Cathars were burned en masse in a bonfire at the foot of the hill when they refused to renounce their faith.
The earliest remains from the castle in Saissac date from the 10th century. It has had various owners throughout the centuries and is currently owned by a french film director. There was a rumour about a treasure buried in the castle grounds and in the late 19th century a French company that specialised in finding treasure started to look for it. They were not interested in the historical significant of the castle, but only in the money supposedly hidden somewhere in the castle. Their main tool of operation was dynamite and they destroyed large parts of the keep and the castle, but never found the treasure. Later, in 1979, a hoard of 2000 coins from the 13th century was actually discovered during some public work carried out in the village!
Saissac is a small village in the Montagne Noir region, north of Carcassone. Not much to see or do, apart from the castle, but a nice place to walk through the small streets and alleys.