Carcassonne, la Bastide Saint-Louis

Carcassonne, La Bastide Saint-Louis
Coat of arms of Carcassonne, Bastide Saint-Louis   Carcassonne,
Bastide Saint-Louis
Carcassonne is a city within two cities!

The Lower Town, also called Bastide Saint Louis, hides many treasures, whose names we mentioned before. All these witnesses of the History which are generally less celebrated than the monuments of the Cité, are however even interesting for those who know how to walk through narrow streets and get into a courtyard...  

Square Gambetta
Irony of History, Carcassonne is a town which seems to show a sort of dualism in its current aspect. Just like the cathar doctrine which flourished here seven centuries ago, and which was chased away and destroyed by the Inquisition.

Bastide Saint Louis

The jewel of today's Town, the bastide is hemmed by boulevards built in the 18th and 19th century over the old, once fortified town ditches. The military enclosure and the gates protect the ville basse or lower town. Its surrounding wall was built betwen 1355 and 1359, under the orders of the comte d'Armagnac; it was 2,800 metres long; the bastions were built after 1359; at that time, people simply erected in the corners some round-shaped towers, greater than the other parts of the wall.
  Market Place Carnot Toward the end of the 16th century, during the wars of religion that devastated the South of France, the town was flanked with 4 bastions located at each corner: the bastion of Saint-Martial in the northwest, the bastion of la Figuières in the northeast, of Montmorency in the southeast, of la Tour Grosse or les Moulins in the southwest (now called du Calvaire). Toward the end of the 16th century, during the wars of religion that devastated the South of France, the town was flanked with 4 bastions located at each corner: the bastion of Saint-Martial in the northwest, the bastion of la Figuières in the northeast, of Montmorency in the southeast, of la Tour Grosse or les Moulins in the southwest (now called du Calvaire).
  On the eve of the French Revolution of 1789, the lower town had yet only 4 gates: - the western gate, porte de Toulouse or des Augustins (rue de Verdun), adorned with two handsome towers forming like a manor, which were restored in 1749. But because of a Council decree issued on 31 May 1778 ruling that the walls, towers, ditches, ramparts and walkways were to be handed in perpetuity to the Lower Town Community, the consuls let this monument fall into decay, and it was entirely destroyed in 1806.
- Rue des Carmes (located at the end of today's rue Georges Clemenceau).
- The western Rue des Cordeliers, located at the eastern end of today's Rue Aimé Ramond (formerly rue de la Mairie).
- The gate, porte des Jacobins, currently preserved and registered on the additional Historical Monuments inventory, together with its surroundings. In the early stages of the Town's construction, the porte des Cordeliers was originally located on the premises of the old Court House gate, at the eastern end of rue Mage (now called rue de Verdun). In 1571 it was moved to the end of rue de la Pellisserie (now rue Aimé Ramond).
  The "bastide" has a regular shape, that of a chessboard organised around a central square, Place Carnot adorned with the Fountain of Neptune (1770). The market takes place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning around this fountain and in the splendid grain exchange, Halle aux Grains (featuring an 18th century frame).
Place Carnot

  •  1 - Le Présidial
  •  2 - Memorial House (15th and 18th centuries)
  •  3 - Grain Market (15th and 18th centuries)
  •  4 - Jesuit College and Chapel (1641-1666)
  •  5 - Seneschal's House (14th and 16th centuries)
  •  6 - Cavailhes de Rolland Mansion (Mid 18th century)
  •  7 - Murat Mansion (17th - 19th centuries)
  •  8 - Montmorency Bastion (16th century)
  •  9 - Jacobins' Gate (1778)
  • 10 - St. Michael's Cathedral (13th, 14th and 19th centuries)
  • 11 - St. Vincent's Church (13th - 16th centuries)
  • 12 - Harbour on the Canal du Midi (18th - 19th centuries)
  • 13 - Place Carnot
  • 14 - Notre-Dame Chapel (16th - 19th centuries)
  • 15 - Pont Vieux, the old bridge (14th century)
  • 16 - Royal Canvas Factory of the Trivalle (17th - 19th centuries)
  • 17 - Pelletier du Claux Mansion (17th century)
  • 18 - Notre-Dame de l'Abbaye
  • 19 - The Montmorency House
  • 20 - St. Gimer's Church
Le Présidial

1 - Le Présidial

Situated in the medieval town before being moved to the «Bastide st Louis» in 1657. It was rebuilt against the eastern rampart in 1699 and was used as a court house until 1861.
Nowadays, it contains the fine arts museum and the library of the town.

The rampart was demolished at the beginning of the XXth century, in order to build the highly decorated new gothic front. Sightseeing Inside, the painter Gamelins chest sculpted by Falguiere, the gate sculpted by Jean Melair (XVIIth) and in the courtyard, the prefect Eugène Poubelle, who gave his name to his invention "la Poubelle" which means bin.You can also see the collections and exhibitions of the museum.

2 - Memorial House
La chambre de Joë Bousquet

It used to be Guitard de Mercayols. abode in the XVIth century, the mansion was modified by Jean de Fournier at the beginning of the XVIIth then by Pierre Dupré, a canvas merchant in 1764. Joë Bousquet remains its most famous host (1897-1950). As a poet and writer, Joë Bousquet was paralysed during the 1st world war, his room was used as a literature society where the surrealists such as Max Ernst, Aragon, Paul Eluard, Dali, but also André Gide, Jean Cassou, Henri Michaux, Paul Valery or Simone Weil gathered.

The courtyard gate (XVth), the ceilings and paintings (XVIth and XVIIth) the front of the house (XVIIIth), and Joe Bousquets room.

Square Gambetta

3 - Covered Market

Built in 1768 on the site of the Officiality and St. Mary's Church, it included the foodgrain market, the Kings Weights & Measures, butchers shops and fish shops. In the centre of the square were the stocks. Originally, all these buildings stood on Place Carnot.

Rue de Verdun, gable roof with the so-called 'Jupiter beams' supported on huge pillars (18th century). On the ground in the square are markings indicating the site of the stocks. Inside are fountains. Thrill of the Walled Town.

4 - Jesuit Chapel and Secondary School

This secondary school was built between 1641 and 1666. It then housed the seminary run by the Jesuits until 1762, shortly before they were expelled from the town. They were replaced by the Doctrinarians.

After the French Revolution, the building became an army storehouse, a museum and an art studio. In 1999, the town council restored the chapel for use as an auditorium and an exhibition hall. On the north side are the classrooms (17th century).

Barrel vaulting with geometrical coffering, galleries, balustrades, painted altar screen in the chancel, hexagonal Baroque bell tower, Mirande Tower.

5 - Seneschal's House
  Seneschal's House The building is often called the Seneschal’s House. This name, however, poses a problem since, unless there were exceptional circumstances, the seneschal, the king's civil, military and judicial representative in Carcassonne from the 13th century onwards, kept watch over the countryside from the walled town and not from the Bastide. The Seneschal was first and foremost a man of war and he soon sought assistance from magistrates such as the Judge-Magus for civil hearings. In our town, the Levis-Mirepoix dynasty provided seneschals for two hundred years (16th and 17th centuries). However, at the end of the Middle Ages, their powers declined. Justice was meted out by "parliaments" and "présidiaux", the army was commanded by the provincial governor and, after Richelieu came to power, intendants played a vital role that became increasingly important in every field.
  6 - Cavailhes de Rolland Mansion

It was built for Jean François Cavailhès from 1746 to 1761 and designed by architects Rollin and Lechevallier with works by sculptors J.Barata, L. Parant and D. Nelli. In 1801, it belonged to the Voisins family who sold it in 1815 to the de Rolland de Roquans.

Impressive façade overlooking the courtyard, main staircase with wrought ironwork bearing the de Rolland coat-ofarms, statue of .The Captive. by Pierre Hébert (1859), painting by Arnaud Scheffer entitled 'Orgy at Blois Castle in the Reign of Henri II' (19th century), 'The Walled Town of Carcassonne' by Jean Baptiste Antoine Guillemet (19th century), staircase and handrail, fountain.
Cavailhes de Rolland Mansion

7 - Murat Mansion

From the 17th century until the French Revolution, this mansion belonged to the de Murat family of magistrates. It was confiscated by the State in 1792 and was then used as the Bishop's Palace from 1826 to 1906. Since 1911, it has belonged to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Seneschal's House
Rue Voltaire, boulevard Camille Pelletan, impressive façade, bracketed balcony, balustrade.
Rue Aimé Ramond: entrance (18th century) and sentry box (19th century).
Inside, staircase, library and Aubusson tapestries.

8 - Montmorency Bastion

This is one of the four 16thcentury bastions with projecting corners, like the Calvary and St.Martial Bastions. They were interlinked by the 14th-century town wall.
9 - Jacobins' Gate

This is the last survivor of the four gates built in the fortifications that once encircled the lower town, built between 1355 and 1359. The gate was rebuilt as we see it today, on its original site, in 1779. The lower town was assigned the walls, towers, moat, ramparts and parapet walkway under the terms of a Council Ruling dated 31st March 1778. Jacobins' Gate N.B. The construction of the present Jacobins' Gate dates from 1779. Four projects were submitted to the Mayor, Consuls and King's Prosecutor, with Messrs. Siman, Alibert and Pech seconded for this purpose. On 12th February 1778, in accordance with the report tabled by the Mayor, Mr. Dupré, preference was given to one of the plans filed by Mr. Dalbeau, Architect and Town Inspector. A tender was granted on 8th May to Mr. Pagnon from Saint-Paul de Fenouillet, with a guarantee from Messrs. Pierre and Hugues Bernard, masons and stone cutters from Voisins. The cost had been estimated at 8.238 livres.
Jacobins' Gate

The coat-of-arms was not included in this tender since the Council had reserved the right to commission the most skilled craftsman for this task. After a competition, Mr. Parant, a sculptor from Carcassonne, agreed on 27th September 1779, to carve it for 400 livres. The external shield bearing the royal arms was 10 feet high and 9 feet wide; it included the cords of the Orders of St. Louis and St. Michael. The frame consisted of laurel branches which replaced the palms included in the original project. The coat-of-arms inside the gate, which was slightly smaller, showed the town's arms and was topped by a Count's coronet flanked by laurel branches. The coats-of-arms have now worn away.

10 - St. Michael's Cathedral

It was built as a memorial to the old parish of St. Michael then extended in 1283 and altered in the 14th century. It is typical of the Gothic style as developed in Languedoc, with its nave supported by tall side chapels but no side aisles. It became a cathedral in 1803. It was damaged by fire in 1849 and restored by Viollet-le-Duc.

Sightseeing :
Interior: central stained-glass windows (14th century), Notre- Dame de la Rouminguière (14th century), St. Bernard, St. Benedict and the statue of Our Lady, from Fronfroide Abbey (18th century), organ built by Cavaille-Coll (19th century)
Exterior: east end, overlooking the boulevard: remains of a tower that was once part of the 14th-century town walls.

11 - St. Vincent's Church

Work began on the building of this church, in memory of the original parish of St. Vincent, c. 1242. It was extended by the addition of a chancel in 1308. It is a fine example of the Southern French Gothic style with a nave that is one of the widest in the South of France.

There used to be four statues in the west porch i.e. St. Vincent, two Apostles and St. Louis (early 14th century), now visible inside the church.
Visitors can also see the 17th-century statue of Notre-Dame de la Parade, paintings by Gamelin, Nicolas Mignard and Pierre Subleyras, an organ by Puget (19th century), a peal of 52 bells and a bell tower 54 metres tall. It was used by Méchain and Delambre to measure the Paris meridian.

12 - Harbour on the Canal du Midi
Harbour on the Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi originally flowed round the north of Carcassonne but its course was diverted along the town walls at the request of the Consuls in 1777. It was inaugurated, with its harbour, in 1810. It has been included in UNESCO.s World Heritage list since 1996. Recently, it has been fitted out to cater for large numbers of leisure craft. Boat trips from april to october.
13 - Place Carnot
Place Carnot

This is a favourite meeting place for local people and it has attracted a number of famous visitors over the years, among them authors such as Balzac and Stendhal who admired its market, its shade, and the Neptune Fountain carved by Barata and Son, 18thcentury Italian sculptors. Since the Middle Ages, Carcassonne's main market has been held on this square. Marketdays on thuesday, thursday and saturday mornings.
Notre-Dame de la Santé
14 - Notre-Dame de la Santé

Founded in the 14th century, it underwent alterations in the 16th century thanks to the generosity of the Saix de Paulignan family. It was extended in 1685 with the addition of the chancel. It became a dwelling during the French Revolution but was returned to the church in the early 19th century.

Lierne and tierceron vaulting, statue of the Madonna and Child (14th century).

15 - Pont Vieux, the old bridge

This 14th-century bridge is typical of the Middle Ages.
It includes the chapel that was once part of St. James. Hospital (now destroyed). Until the 19th century, this was the only link between the Bastide and the walled town whose boundary lays under the third arch (from the Bastide side). The huge size of the bridge is due to variations in the bed of the river.
16 - Royal Canvas Factory of the Trivalle
Manufacture Royale de la Trivalle

Royal canvas factory of the trivalle It was founded in 1694 by Guillaume de Castanier and became a royal factory in 1696. In 1714, it was sold to Julie Rivals-Fornier and remained in this family till its bankruptcy in 1789. Then, it became a spinning mill and nowadays, the tax department.

The front dating from the XVIIIth century with gates adorned with masks. The phrase which was coined during the revolution of which only one world is recognizable : .Manufacture..

17 - Pelletier du Claux Mansion

After the Wars of Religion when it was used as a fortress, this mansion was renovated (1602) by Pierre de Pelletier, Provost of Carcassonne. It belonged to the same family until the 18th century. Sightseeing: Façade with mullioned window, rounded doorway, eaves formed by three rows of tiles, courtyard with arching and a flight of steps.
18 - Notre-Dame de l'Abbaye

Notre-Dame de l'Abbaye

It is said that, in the 3rd century, the first Christians gathered to listen to St. Crescent, a disciple of St. Paul. In the 8th century, the church was badly damaged by the Moors. It was the town.s first cathedral. Pope Urban II celebrated Mass here in 1096 after preaching the Crusade to Jerusalem. In 1240, it was demolished by Trencavel and, seven years later, St. Louis ordered its reconstruction. Badly damaged during the Wars of Religion, it was rebuilt in 1592 by Capuchin friars who took it over and continued work on the chancel and cloister. It was sold as national property in 1792 but bought back in 1842 by Monsignor Bonnechose. Nowadays, it is an hostal.

Cloister, church, museum.

19 - The Montmorency House

The .Montmorency. House (16th century). This superb mansion has a stone-built ground floor and three upper storeys with timbering that serves as a frame for the cob walls. Inside, there is a spiral staircase in a turret leading to the upper storeys. There is also an ornate fireplace with a coat-ofarms. Unfortunately, at the present time, the question as to who really commissioned the building of the house is open to doubt. Next door, ther is another cob-walled timbered house with two corbelled storeys. It was built during the same period as the Montmorency House.
St. Gimer's Church
20 - St. Gimer's Church

This is one of the three churches built by Viollet-le- Duc. It was to be used as an annex to the first St. Gimer.s Church (17th century) which is now unused (58, rue Barbacane). Popular tradition has it that this first church was built on the site of the birthplace of St.Gimer, Bishop of Carcassonne in the 10th century. From childhood onwards, he was well-known for his generosity towards the poor. This was miraculously rewarded when the quantity of bread kneaded one day by his mother suddenly increased. St.Gimer then distributed the bread to the poor. The second church was built between 1849 and 1859. Its architecture is marked by Viollet-le-Duc.s preference for the Gothic style.
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