Cascastel des Corbières - The Reconstruction
1999 flood was destructive and time is needed to replace or repair all that was damaged or lost.
In the last two years the bridge on the route between Cascastel and Albas has been repaired and the old Medieval Bridge which had been swept away has been replaced using many of the original stones and constructed using traditional stone mason skills.
The architect overseeing the reconstruction followed faithfully the original medieval way of building and now the stones of the bridge have been given a lime coating to protect against weathering. The people in the village were not happy with this as the bridge they had known all their lives, " Le Pont des Pierres ", did not have a crepi covering.
The banks of the river on the village have been rebuilt and the old heart of the medieval village is undergoing repair.
The 11th century church and Château are in the process of being repaired. The village has had to tolerate dust and contractors' lorries and equipment all summer and have for this year lost the Place de l'église for the weekly Petanque matches.
There are some grumbles but mostly we are all interested to see the work taking place and in particular the repairs to the Château.
One elderly lady said her parents celebrated their marriage in the Château in 1927, her granddaughter is already wondering if she can also celebrate her marriage in the same place.
In a small village everyone says " bonjour " to each other, children are safe to wander the streets and the dogs sprawl across the road, reluctantly rising to their feet when a car approaches.
When someone dies everyone goes to the funeral, walking behind the hearse into the cemetery. Occasionally someone gets married in the " Mairie "
- Town Hall. If the bride and groom wish for a religious ceremony they and their guests walk through the village to the church after the Civil ceremony conducted by the Mayor.
Births happen, children grow up and as young adults nearly all move away unless they stay and work the family vines. There is no other work but the vines. It is a quiet place to live.
The life of the village revolves around the seasonal demands of the vines but also " La Chasse " or the hunting of wild boar. The boar is hunted and shot from the end of August until the end of January for three days every week. Outside the hunting season " pétanque " is played, there are a few fishermen, and from time to time the " Comité de Fête " organises a meal with a disco or a live group to follow. For three days in August there is a Village Fête with a meal and live music. The organisation, " Les Amis du Château de Cascastel " organises an Exhibition of Art and a " Vide Grenier " Car Boot (trunk) Sale in August. The village has an " Epicerie ", a " Tabac ", a Post Office, a restaurant and, surprisingly for such a small village, a school which takes the older primary children from the villages of Albas, Cascastel and Villeneuve.
© 2005 Text and Photographs by Maggie Comley, Cascastel
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