Olargue is one of the “most beautiful villages of France” (Plus Beaux Villages de France). It was occupied by the Romans, Vandals and Visigoths before becoming a fortified hill-top village.
The citadel was destroyed on the orders of Cardinal Richelieu in 1629. Only the 13th century New Gate and parts of the medieval walls remain. The public stairway in the 14th century galleries of the Commandery are worth a visit too.
The Devil’s Bridge over the river Jaur is said to date from 1202. According to local legend, it was the scene of a confrontation between the residents of Olargues and the devil.
The Romanesque belltower that dominates the village is a remnant of the former castle. It was originally a dungeon. There are many medieval stone and half-timbered properties in the village, with overhanging upper storeys. A small museum explains local history and traditions.
Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois to Olargues takes about an hour by car (34 miles, 55 km). The route takes you through the beautiful landscape of the Haut-Languedoc.
Events throughout the year include a medieval festival during the third weekend in September, a wheelbarrow and gardeners festival in May, Festibaloche in August and an autumn chestnut festival. For more information, visit www.minervois-caroux.com.
If you love wine, the nearest AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée or ‘controlled designation of origin’) to Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois is Saint-Chinian. The local wine is a success story of local producers focusing on quality rather than overproduction. Markets are held on Thursday and Sunday mornings.