The Château de Gisors was a key fortress of the Dukes of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was intended to defend the Anglo-Norman Vexin territory from the pretensions of the King of France. King William II of England ordered Robert of Bellême to build the first castle at Gisors. The first building work is dated to about 1095, and consisted of a motte, which was enclosed in a spacious courtyard or bailey. Henry I of England, Duke of Normandy, added an octagonal stone keep to the motte.
In 1193 the castle fell into the hands of the King of France and thereafter lost temporarily its importance as a frontier castle. A second keep, cylindrical in shape, called the Prisoner's Tower, was added to the outer wall of the castle at the start of the 13th century, following the French conquest of Normandy. Further reinforcement was added during the Hundred Years' War. In the 16th century, earthen ramparts were built. Since 1862, Château de Gisors has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
Château de Gisors is also known for its links with the Templars. Put into their charge by the French king between 1158 and 1160, it became the final prison of the Grand Master of the Order, Jacques de Molay, in 1314.References:
Olargues is a good example of a French medieval town and rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It was occupied by the Romans, the Vandals and the Visigoths. At the end of the 11th century the Jaur valley came under the authority of the Château of the Viscount of Minerve. The following centuries saw a succession of wars and epidemics, and it was not until the 18th century that Olargues became re-established. This was due to the prosperity of local agriculture and artisanal industry.
The Pont du Diable, 'Devil's Bridge', is said to date back to 1202 and is reputed to be the scene of transactions between the people of Olargues and the devil. The old village is clustered around the belltower, which was formerly the main tower of the castle (Romanesque construction). The old shops have marble frontages and overhanging upper storeys. A museum of popular traditions and art is to be found in the stairs of the Commanderie.