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A glimpse inside Chateau Hautpoul in Rennes-le-Chateau



Blanchforte Ruins 1

This ruin looks towards Rennes-le-Chateau

Blanchforte Ruin 2

This Ruin looks towards Pech Cardou

In the two photographs above you can see the only evidence I could find of any buildings on the top of Blanchefort. The area to build on is quite small so whatever construction once existed could not have been much larger than the ruins seen here.

I have been told a well exists on Blanchefort, which some people have attempted to drain in the hope of finding a treasure. This could be the well in the centre of the building shown above, if it is a well. Now blocked with new cement. It could of course not be the well talked about and could be elsewhere but I have yet to find it. This well, and a man who planned to drain it, is also mentioned in a Book by Christopher Dawes -Rat Scabies and the Holy Grail, a book I highly recommend.

The ruins that exist don't look much like a Chateau construction to me, they look more like two towers. If they were towers then what was their purpose? Were they built as watch towers to guard something? If so, what could they have been guarding?

A tunnel or shaft is rumoured to be situated on Blanchefort, though now almost certainly blocked by cave-ins or maybe even on purpose to protect something. This tunnel, it is said, once led to an underground Temple in Cardou. Could this then, if the stories are true, be the reason why the towers were built? To guard an entrance to a Temple in Mount Cardou opposite. The views from the towers would have enabled the guards to see anyone coming from a distance.

Nothing now seems to be left to indicate the location of the passage entrance, if indeed it did ever exist. Perhaps it is situated on the hillside somewhere, its entrance now hidden by time and nature. There are caves on Blanchefort which have been thoroughly explored over the years and seem to lead nowhere except dead ends or passages too small to enter. With the area so overgrown and hard to explore an opening not yet found could still exist. Just waiting to be found, maybe by you.

As previously mentioned, if a Chateau ever existed on the top of Blanchefort, which I doubt, unless it was an extremely small one, consisting of only two small buildings, it wasn't very grand or easy to get to. I am more inclined to believe that a few men were posted here in watch towers to guard something, a secret entrance to a Temple or a lost treasure, perhaps? Maybe the towers were built here to guard the gold mines on the mountain or to store something? Will we ever know for sure? I doubt it.

Similar construction layout to the Blanchefort ruins. Could similar towers have once looked out on the landscape from the top of Blanchefort?

Similar construction layout to the Blanchefort ruins. Could similar towers have once looked out on the landscape from the top of Blanchefort?

Chateau Blanchefort from RLC website

In the 10th century, the Visigoths were the first to build a fortification on the white rock opposite Mount Cardou. In 1125, the castle was signed over to the bishopric of Alet-les-Bains, by its owner Bertrand de Blancafort (Blanchefort) who swore allegiance to the Viscount Bernard Aton of Alet.

Around 1130, he allegedly asked the Knights Templar to start exploiting a goldmine near the castle. It was whispered that this operation was a cover up to dig up the treasure of the Visigoths, much of which was gathered during the sack of Rome on 24th August 410 by the Visigoth leader Alaric I the Goth. Bertrand de Blancafort wasn't the 6th Grandmaster of the Order of the Knights Templar as is sometimes claimed. Nor was he related to the Grandmasters family who came from Guyenne.

In 1209 the castle was conquered by Simon de Montfort in the Albigensean Crusade. He gave the castle, which was now called Château de Blanchafort and the surrounding lands to his comrade in arms Pierre de Voisins. The lands included Rennes-le-Château, where De Voisins found a permanent residence in what we now know as the Château Hautpoul.

The castle lost its use with the introduction of gunpowder and canons in the early 16th century. Eventually it was abandoned after 1659 with the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenées which meant there was no longer a border to guard.

French historian Labouisse-Rochefort mentioned the castle in his 1832 book Voyage à Rennes-les-Bains, in which he recounts a local legend of a treasure guarded by the devil in the area of the château.
There is very little left of the Château Blanchefort. (Read Full article)

The walk to the summit of Blanchefort is at times step and tiring. When you reach the top, or almost, to reach the chateau ruins there is no path. The more energetic can climb the small tree growing by the rock face. others will have to scramble through the dense vegetation around the outcrop until they can walk up to the ruins. The Château was very small as can be seen by the ruins that remain. It is well worth the effort to reach the peak as the views are spectacular, even if the ruins are not.

Conclusion: It seems that there was a Chateau on Blanchefort, all be it a small one.

Tunnels and Caves on Blanchefort

Blanchforte Cave 1

A Cave entrance on Blanchefort - Perhaps an old mine

(In the Rennes-le-Chateau museum, they have turned a photograph of this cave sideways and called it a mine)

This cave or tunnel leads back about 30 meters to an extremely tight passage. Pat forced his way through until he could go no further. About twenty meters into the tunnel there is a hole a few meters deep. Getting across this is by means of a bridge, and I use bridge here in the loosest sense of the word, it was no more than an old tree branch about four inches thick laid across the void. Pat, eager to see what was below, investigated the hole by being lowered down on a rope by our cave-finder Ronny: he seems to be able to sniff them out. Reaching the bottom of the deep dark pit, Pat found another small passage. Pat, forever the explorer, tried to lower himself down through the small shaft. Unfortunately he was too large so unable to fit through, it must be all the beer he keeps drinking. He even carried bottles up the side of Blanchefort, and I mean up the side, no luxury of a path with these two. If Pat and Ronny want to go somewhere they stop the car and head up through the bushes and undergrowth. If Pat invites you out on a walk, decline it quickly and walk away even faster. They scurried up the steep side like it was flat. I was not so graceful and was on my hands and knees most of the time. The beers though were fully appreciated and something I was in desperate need of after the hard climb. In the hole Pat also found an old rope so it seems to have already been explored. It would have been good to see what was at the bottom of the shaft though. Maybe it led to another tunnel. I must put Pat on a beer diet, maybe then he could fit through some of these smaller openings. We did return later and used the remote camera to look down the shaft. There did seem to be another horizontal tunnel but it was very small.


Pat backing up towards the hole                                        Pat squeezing below the log bridge

Notice the spider on the left of the photograph? These arachnids thrive in the caves and have been in almost every cave I have explored in the area. Some of them are quite large and I like them not at all.

Spider 1            Spider 2

Some pics for you Spider loving freaks out there. You know who you are.

Pat and Ronny

Pat drinking beer so fast it blurred the photo.

Ronny in the background taking a photo of something, probably the last beer before Pat drinks it.


Pat and Ronny

Pat is ether sending a message of love to his girlfriend, or ordering more beer, while Ronny, as usual, does all the work.

More Blanchefort Caves.

Blanchefort Cave 4  Blanchefort Cave 5Blanchefort Cave 6

Another cave Pat couldn't resist exploring.

Blanchefort cave 7

This cave was situated about half way between Roc Negre and Blanchefort.

There is a outcrop of rock, which is a great look out point to observe Mount Cardou opposite. As you climb up the steep twisting path towards Blanch forte. Look for a small track leading into the bushes on the right at a corner. Walk along this path and you will come to the look out point. Look to the right and down and you will see this cave beside the outcrop back the way you just came. It is very small and is empty, I know because I searched it. It looks naturally formed and has no doubt been shelter for many small animals and insects over the years.

Roc Negre

Roc Negre

Roc Negre from the lookout point.

Roc Negre, or the Black Rock, the outcrop in the background, might be hinted at in the Stations of the Cross in Sauniere's Rennes-le-Chateau church. Station 1 depicts a negro boy holding a basin of water. Below his feet is a cave like entrance made from a crease in the cloth covering the steps. To the left of this an 'R' has been formed by the hem of the cloth. If the 'R' stands for Roc and the boy/Negro or Negre, we have Roc Negre. So could Sauniere be hinting at a cave at the foot of a Black Rock? The boy is holding a white basin which could, with a leap of imagination, be Blanchefort, white fort or castle. The nearer rock that looks like a Centurions helmet on top, is known locally as the Centurion or Guardian rock. A Centurion also appears in Station 1.

Related Article Links

A glimpse inside Chateau Hautpoul in Rennes-le-Chateau

Related Article Publications

Ben Hammott's Illustrated Guide to Rennes-le-Chateau No1

Illustrated Guide to Rennes-le-Chateau No1 - Also available for Digital Download

Illustrated Guide to Rennes-le-Chateau No2


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