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Last Day in Capestang

October 30, 2014

Today I went to l’Oppidum d’Ensérune. It was actually not my first visit; I stumbled on it when I was lost on the very day I arrived, then went there earlier this week to see what it was about, and returned today for a longer visit.

So what is it exactly? It’s the excavation of a town dating from the 5th century B.C., that grew to 8000 people by the 2nd century A.D. It sits on the crest of a hill offering panoramic views in all directions. The visible remains are only about 10% of the city at its zenith, and concentrate on its most recent incarnation in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. As with most sites like this, it’s hard to describe in a few photos, even with dozens.

The ridge on which it sits runs east-west, and there are houses on the north- and south-facing terraces, with remains of sewers and streets clearly visible.  This column house on the north terrace was probably two stories, its design reflecting Roman town planning influence.

Column house 2



These ceramic dolia were used to store grain

        These ceramic dolia were used to store grain

South terrace houses

South terrace houses

A separate area was a craftsmen’s district dating from the 1st century B.C., and there’s a necropolis (below) at the far end of the ridge, identified during the excavations by its large number of incineration graves, many still containing bone fragments of the dead. It was one of the largest burial sites in Gaul.


Obviously, the views up there are expansive: to the south the Canal du Midi winds past Poilhes, and you can see Capestang in the distance.  South rampart On a clearer day, Narbonne is visible as well, but this morning was quite hazy, foggy almost.








Beyond the north ridge you get a perfect view of the Étang de Montady. There was a big lagoon in this spot until it was emptied in the 13th century (not sure why), but the drainage system, a series of canals radiating from the center, remains and the land is cultivated.

Étang de Montady

Étang de Montady

This smiling guy welcomed me to the site and apparently lives here, foraging on the weeds and grass.

Smiling donkey

Tonight is bittersweet, my last in Capestang. The last bit of laundry is drying on the terrace, and I’ve packed everything I can at the moment, ready for an early start in the morning.  I enjoyed a glass of rosé with Liz and René (my hosts) this afternoon. Their cruising season has ended, and tomorrow they’re taking the boat to Sète, where she will spend the winter in the marina. So everything is slowing down as the season changes.

But….I’m really looking forward to going to Paris tomorrow to spend some time with my dear friends Jama and Elisabetta. It will be an entirely different few days — hope I can step up the pace after these relaxing weeks in the south.

From → Solo travel

One Comment
  1. Thanks for sharing your visit.

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