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Durban des Corbieres Durban des Corbières, in the Languedoc (Occitan) region of France.
'Les hommes des souches' is a Corbières saying describing local people whose families have lived in the area for a very long time and who have worked the land, tending the vines and producing wine.
Click on the 'highlighted' words to open additional pictures.
The 'souche' is the vine plant and the roots go down very deep into the soil. Durban people feel connected with their town, their land, their families and the history of the town which goes back to pre-Christian periods. Achaeological evidence suggests that there were Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements close to the town.
There is a site of an early Christian church dedicated to Saint Just and also a chapel dedicated to St. Ruphine, dating from the Visigothic period. The Visigoths overran the whole of this part of France as the Roman Empire collapsed. Local people talk of these ruins and of other chapels situated in isolated places as having been built on pre-Christian. sites where there is a water source.
The twisting streets of the old village
The first recorded evidence of the town of Durban is early 11th century. The Château which dominates the hill above the old town and can be seen from miles away has vestiges of a medieval building but also of later construction in the 16th century.
The old Medieval town of Durban climbs the hill from the River Berre and up towards the Château and the Church of St. Just and St. Pasteur. The streets are narrow and the best way to explore them is on foot although you can take a car up to the Château. Durban is about 35 kilometers from Narbonne, 45 kilometers from Perpignan to the South, and a similar distance from Carcassonne to the North West.
The 'Mairie' - Town Hall On the other side of the River Berre is a modern extension of the town. There is the 'Mairie' or Town Hall, the school, the retirement home for elderly people, new housing and a camp site.
Many families were glad to move out of the small roomed dark housing of the old town and into lighter modern houses with a garden leaving the old houses to be bought by strangers to the town who open up the rooms, expose the beams put flowers in the windows and enjoy the cool interiors during a hot southern summer.
The town has a Bank, Post Office, a bakers, small supermarket, two petrol stations and a couple of garages. There is a Tobacconist, Hôtel and Restaurant, Chambre d'Hôte, a Pharmacist, a small Medical Centre, swimming pool and tennis courts.
More of the town
More of the Château
The ruined Chateau
Durban has suffered greatly in the last few years. Its Cave Co-operative where the grapes were taken to produce good Corbières wine, has closed and the building demolished. The economy of the town depends on making and selling wine. Some growers have become independent wine producers and others take their grapes to centres managed by 'Les Producteurs de Haute Corbières' at Tuchan. The town also experienced the flood in November 1999. The Berre, normally a gently flowing river which can dry up in summer, became overnight a raging, destructive torrent. Since that time the Nursery School and the Supermarket have been re-built on new sites, the Local Taxation Office found a new location and the Camp site placed well away from flood waters. There is still a lot of work to be done before the town can finally put that disastrous 24 hours into the past.
The Canton of Durban has fourteen Communes or villages of which Durban is the most important. It is proud to see itself as the start of any exploration of the area known as Cathar Country (Pays Cathar), proud of its heritage or Patrimoine. and welcoming to any stranger who visits.
Text and Photographs by Maggie Comley, Cascastel 2003
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Revised -- 3 August 2009
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