Cascastel des Corbières, Aude
Cascastel nestles in the rolling hills of the Corbières, in the Languedoc (Occitan) region of Southern France.
Cascastel lives and breathes wine. There are 200 inhabitants and nearly all are connected with wine.
They either grow, prune or spray the vines and harvest the grapes or are involved in the making and selling of the wine from the Cave Co-operative.
Fitou, Rivesaltes and Corbières wines are produced and economically the Cave has been successful so that other local villages call the Cascastelloise “ Les Americaines ”.
This small village is 6 kilometers from Durban Corbières, 35 kilometers from Narbonne, and 40 kilometers from Perpignan to the South and Carcassonne to the North West.
The village does have a history and the first recorded evidence of Cascastel is in 861. In the years prior to this Charlemagne had re-established some order
after a long period of instability and devastation following invasions of this frontier zone by the Moors in the eigth century. In 843 the control of the Aude area passed
to Charles le Chauve who in 861 gave his vassal Andromarius the “ Villa Calcicustello ”. A château was ordered to be built by a
charter dated 1390 and the tower of this château along with the church dating from the twelth century and a bridge of the same period crossing the River
Berre form the major part of the old medieval village from which the modern village has grown. The streets of that period were very different.
The River Berre, which has its source in the commune of Quintillan, flows through Cascastel and continues on its route to the Etang of Bages via Durban and Portel Corbières. In November 1999 a 24 hour period of abnormally heavy rain caused the river to burst its banks and the torrents caused a lot of damage. Houses were flooded to a depth of nearly 2 metres, the Medieval bridge was swept away, the Church and Château were damaged; the banks of the river were broken and the Cave Co-operative was nearly destroyed. Roads disappeared and the village was cut off until emergency services arrived. Since 1999 the roads have been rebuilt, the original Cave Co-operative repaired and a new one built opposite. Water and sewage pipes have been relaid and electricity and telephone lines repaired.
The important economic life of the village continues but the heart of the old village still remains damaged by the flood. The Château of Cascastel is a listed historic building - not in the first rank where such national monuments as Versaille and Fontainebleau are listed - but nevertheless it is recognised as part of the Patrimoine or tradition. We have been assured that the work to repair the Château, the church and the banks of the river will start soon, and maybe, rebuild the old Medieval bridge.
© 2003 Text and Photographs by Maggie Comley, Cascastel
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