•Aude (11190) • Population: 202 • Altitude: 356 m
Arques is a small village, 10 km east of Couiza, with a picturesque 13-century chateau, including a tall donjon tower.
It's a simple village, but somewhat interesting. There's one main road through the village, and a few side streets along the north side of the road.
We quite appreciated the village café, a very interesting affair with a "pub" influence, and so packed with interesting objects that it's a fine museum as well.
Horseback riding is available on the river side of the village, attested to by the horses herded through the center of the village while we were there.
The classical chateau-fort is just outside the village at the west side. Parking is free, and there's a great close-up view of the chateau without entering. There's a 5 € entrance fee (reasonable, to help maintain the place). You can go in the book shop without entering the chateau. The shop has books on chateaux, the Cathars, the region, etc.
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History of Arques
Prehistoric: A nearby snail farm (escargotière) was dated as being from 7000 BC (making snail eating a very ancient tradition in France).
Medieval: The Barony of Arques was part of the County of Razès. The chateau of Arques was built in 1284 by Gille de Voisins. During the French Revolution, the chateau of Arques was sold as a National property.
The Déodat Roché museum (Musée Déodat Roché) is located in his house in the village. M. Roché (1877-1978), born in Arques, was an historian of Catharisme among his many talents.
The artifical Lac d'Arques (Arques lake) at the southern edge of the village has swimming and some water sports. A campsite and a vacation village are located there.
• GPS: 42.952571, 2.373802
IGN (1/25,000) #2347 OT "Quillan, Alet-les-Bains"
Petite Randonée (PR) trails at the village are marked by a trails panel. We did a nice country-lane hike, finding more than enough blackberries to top off our lunch.
There's a very nice loop hike out to the southeast of Arques, and south of the village there are some trails in the hills of the Rialsesse Forest.