Driving through the area we saw remnants of fortified hill-top towns, ruined castles, and medieval villages each with a lofty church. Our first destination was the Abbaye de Fontfroide, a 12th Century Cistercian abbey. It's been added to and changed over the centuries but is remarkably well-preserved. During the Middle Ages it was one of the most powerful abbeys in Europe and played a major role during the crusade against the Cathars. It was saved from ruin in 1908 when it was purchased by a wealthy couple who restored it.
This is the interior of the church with beautiful stained glass windows created in the early 1900s. And on the right the chapter house where the monks met with the Prior every morning.
The picture below is where the lay brothers (who did the work in the fields) slept on straw pallets.
This is looking down on the cloisters and below, two more views of them.
I apologize for the poor quality of these photos. I'm taking them with my iPhone and then emailing them to myself for inclusion here. The wifi where we're staying is very slow so the images are kind of blurry. But they'll give you an idea of what we're seeing.
This is the Abbey of La Grasse which lies across the river by way of the 14th Century bridge. We didn't go into this one because we were ready to head back to Narbonne. As Harry keeps telling me, "You can't see all of it on one trip."
By the way, we got back to Narbonne to find the wind still blowing strong. But this morning it's abated and we have a somewhat cloudy, drizzly day and sunshine is predicted for this afternoon.