The journey through the Western fringe of Occitan presented a significant risk. Nominally Frankish territory, the small expeditionary force could have been overwhelmed if there had been a concerted move against them. It all hinged on the attitude of the Toulousaines, almost independent from the Franks but never completely at ease with the rule of the Ramnulfids, Angevins or Plantagenets. The Prince judged it perfectly; to treat them as independent and offer an advantageous alliance.
I am sure the citizens of Moissac would take difference with a simplistic comparison with Aiguillion. Both are near to the confluence between the Garronne and major tributaries. In Moissac the Tarn is substituted for the Lot. In both places there used to be mills on both sides of the river. The Mills at Moissac have fared rather better than those at Aiguillion The mill closest to the the town of Moissac is now a pleasant hotel and the smaller mill on the far side of the river is now the office for a camping site on the Ile de Beaucaire.
There are other differences. Moissac itself is not elevated but closer to the river level and the “Canal de Deux Mers” passes through the centre of the town. Moissac is home to the Abbey of St Pierre which is of world renown and is world heritage listed. It is also the location Of Pont Napoleon, a restaurant of international reputation.
Now almost lost in the industrial suburbs of Toulouse. Castelingest was only on the route because of the church of St Pierrre, in the gift of the monastery of St. Sernin of Toulouse. I started with a very poor quality photograph from the web site of the Mayor (Marie) of Castelingest. I persued the location of the church even though for once no one i talked to seemed to know anything about the history of Castelingest or of St Pierre’s. I was directed away from the town centre into a district which i was assured was “Historique”. I found a match for the photograph but the church appears too modern. However it’s configuration is most unusual more like the keep of a castle than a church So perhaps it is the original St Pierre’s. The illuminated features built into the fabric of the church made the search worthwhile. I have in no way retouched the photographs; the overall effect is quite spooky!
At one time the richest city in Europe. It’s trade and economy were ruined by the Albigensian Crusade but the centre of the city is still a treasure trove of wonderful architecture.
Now another suburb of Toulouse but very different to Castelingest. Lacroix is in the country and is laced with expensive detached houses. The crossing of the Arriege had to be undertaken somewhere and here it is! As in many of the places visited there is a delightful restaurant complete with views over the crossing point.
The destination of the Secret Journey. There are still meadows and swimming holes down by the river. The foundations of the ancient Bridge can still be seen disturbing the fast flowing waters. I almost expected to tumble upon the Princes tent and meet Ximene myself.