Located in the south of France in the heart of the Cathar country, in the region known as the Quercorb, nestled in the foothills of the majestic Pyrenees, lies the bastide town of Chalabre. Filled with all the character and charm of a medieval town in an idyllic rural setting, it was known as the ‘Terre Privilegiee’ based on a decree made by the King of France in 1210 AD exempting its citizens from paying taxes.
Bastide towns were built as the “new towns” of the 13th century, designed to be both defensively strong and to regenerate the regions that had been ravaged by wars. They conformed to a very distinctive design: a central square following a grid pattern, where the streets radiate out and where the central square, the hub of town life, is decoratively arcaded, often with a free standing, covered market area.
The Village Today
The village today has a population of around 1600. The distinctive old and large European plane trees provide shade during the summer around the village’s circular core. From spring time until the falling of the leaves in the autumn, there are many festivals and events held in and around the village.
Some of the highlights are the Vide Greniers (Empty Attics), held twice over the summer, where you can find beautiful inexpensive old linen sheets, table cloths, local pottery or maybe some Pastis glasses. Vide Greniers take place in the surrounding villages all summer long.
Also to be enjoyed, the fête Galois, held on Bastille Day, France’s national day of celebration, finds one sitting in a giant circle with the friendly villagers, eating roasted pork on a spit, which has been cooking all day. At midnight the crowd gathers by the river to watch the fireworks display.
Chalabre also holds a small medieval music festival, with summer displays of the art of medieval warfare put on by a local association at the large Château of Chalabre. In August every year since 2017, the Chalabre en Sérénade festival, draws together an international gathering of Musicians, Artists, Dancers and Designers to celebrate the power of love and music.
Market life is very much a part of this region, with particularly large markets open on Fridays in Lavelenet, Sundays in Esperaza and Mondays in nearby Mirepoix. Details of all the local markets will be provided to guests.
Every Saturday morning a small market takes place in Chalabre, making full use of the old design of the central covered market square with its four avenues lined with trickling fountains, plane and chestnut trees. This beautiful scene has now become one of the most picturesque markets in the region.
For the guests of Château Terre Blanche, the village of Chalabre offers a good selection of shops, with restaurants, cafes, supermarket, charcuterie, doctors and a pharmacy. The authentic French boulangerie makes it a delight to buy bread and croissants, fresh and delicious from the baker’s ovens every morning.
Dominating the skyline, is the Château Chalabre, a Medieval Theme Park with its craft workshops, exhibitions, medieval combat, and hosting an annual jousting tournament.