Located in the Corbières, in full Cathar country, the village of Montlaur is in a valley bordered in the north by the mountain of Alaric and in the south by the hill of Coque. A spring in the centre of the village flows into a stream that joins the Orbieu a few kilometres further on.
The name of Montlaur was created following the construction of the fort. Several explanations have been suggested for the meaning but the most likely and the simplest seems to be the laurel mount (Montem Laurum).
Montlaur, village of mills
Three small hills overlook the village. On these, we find:
- The Couscouillède mills, nowadays converted into homes. These seigniorial mills are evidence of abundant cereal crops (wheat, rye, oats) before the explosion of wine making. According to records, up to four water and windmills were working during the same period and indicate the prosperity of the country.
- the fortified castle of which only a few stones remain
- the Bissat mills, nowadays converted into homes.
The remains of a Cathar past in Montlaur
On the main square of the village, the town hall, a lavish building built during the Third Republic in 1813, is set in a beautiful open area including the church and public gardens.
A boules pitch allows interested parties to practice their favourite sport and organize tournaments on summer evenings. There’s a play area for children which is quickly besieged at the end of the school day by school children wanting to relax before returning home.
The fortifications of the old stronghold are no longer visible in the village. But this walking spot has splendid panoramic views of the village, the plain and the Coque.
The picturesque medieval quarter with its narrow streets and winding alleys, interspersed by a few little squares that of Old Town Hall square rom where you can see the door of Bissens.
The castle consisted of three forts each one within the other, built on a steep rock in the twelfth century, by Pierre Roger, viscount of Beziers. Montlaur was captured by Simon de Montfort in 1210. There are only a few remains of the city walls and the Bissens portal.