Fleury d’Aude and its environment has been occupied for a very long time; in fact the first time man seemed to appear in the Clape massive (Occitan: clapas = heap of boulders) was Neanderthal man about 100.000 years ago. Testified by a prehistoric cave levelled off near the village and numerous vestiges found during excavations or even by ploughing.
These were sharpened or polished stones, also called choppers (a name given by archaeologists to a tool which was shaped by splitting a pebble on only one side); then, following the evolution of civilisation, pendants of the Bronze age were found, as well as jewelled funeral urns of iron characteristic of the Hallstead civilisations which prove that an important Celtic population lived on this ground at least 1000 years before BC.
Much later Hannibal passed the Clape by Gruissan and Fleury at the head of an army of 60.000 men on his way to attack the powerful Rome Empire. This is now called Hannibal’s way (name given by the local historian, Magali David).
The name of the inhabitants here at this era is unknown. It was under Roman occupation.
There is the vast underground aqueduct supplying the village with drinking water as well as the remains of several villas, when Fleury got its original name: Pérignan. This name came without any doubt from the Roman name: Pérignanus who was the responsible for the small town at this Latin time as well as its symbol meaning a wonderful tree bearing golden pears ….
Concerning the toponymy on the complete name, the suffix « an » is not just a short cut of Pérignan but a very often employed sign for names like villages in Aude whose end finish this way, see Lespignan, Marcorignan, Gruissan, Vinassan etc…. and which means a grouping of areas.
HERCULE Private tutor of Louis XV
And Pérignan became Fleury
The family Pérignan held an important place after the last one because they still were at the head of the grounds in the village to this time (middle ages). During the whole middle ages which became Barony of Pérignan institute by Hughes Capet in aid of the Viscounty Narbonne, sometimes depended to these same barons of Pérignan sometimes to their suzerains, the Viscounts of Narbonne. This barony will also know what happened to all real estates of this epoch: captured, sold and divided, sometimes into private properties and sometimes crown properties.
It was in the reign of Louis XV when Jean-Hercule of Fleury nephew of the Cardinal of Fleury and private tutor of the young king was raised by the Queen from a baron to a duke.
The descendants also received the title Duke of Fleury, Lords of Rocozel, baron of Pérignan and Pairs de France. The last holder of this Dukedom was the Duke Rosset de Rocozel who emigrated in 1794; all his properties were confiscated and sold in aid of the Nation. During the French Revolution under Charles X, Fleury changed his name Pérignan again to Fleury. At this time the commune lost the pond of Vendres to its neighbour on Hérault side.
THE LORDS OF THE COAST
Regarding to the two other suburbs of the commune, Cabanes de Fleury and Saint Pierre la mer, they had knew more or less the same historic or archaeological past. The spot of Saint Pierre was also occupied at Roman time which could be attested by vestiges of a big house, the hotel des Pins, situated on the present site.
In the middle age the first church was built by the Viscount of Narbonne, Pierre de Lara who also let build the first watchtower in order to defend the site against invasions and raids which were frequent at this time. Saint Pierre also became one of Malta’s Order Commanderie as well as a commercial and strategic counter which were at this time very numerous on the Mediterranean side. The legend tells that an underground hollowed out by a lord at this Templar Epoch set off under the chapel to an unknown direction but never was found…
The first house in Saint Pierre was also built by the Order to shelter its lords at the locality Saint Pierre la Garrigues. Since this time, houses got multiplied to develop the resort we know nowadays; last one knew an important expansion since the years sixties.
Regarding to Cabanes de Fleury, the present smart village, its harbour and its campsite, was long time occupied by fishermen in their reed huts frequently devastated by fires until the decision about 100 years ago to build houses with hard material but in spite of it could not prevent to be devastated on the last war as well as so many other places in Saint Pierre la Mer.
ARCHAEOLOGY, ARCHITECTURE, CIRCUITS AND FANCY ……
The watchtower in Saint Pierre we evoke right before has its same one in the old village called « Tour Bayard » at the time when this last one was fortified and surmounted by the castle of Lords. The doors and porches, vestiges of ramparts of which traces got left are still visible and remains to the present boulevards belting the village. But it seems that the oldest and most preserved element is this tower « Balayard » which remains without a doubt to the « Visigoth-Era » gathering several functions : one time or simultaneously watchtower, defence tower and even seigniorial pigeon house, last one proved by numerous alveolus left there gave the possibility to pigeons to nest (at this epoch only the Lords could do the farming of pigeons because these winged as well as voracious creatures devastated all seed and cultures ….)
Numerous historic places are left like the chapel of Penitents visible in the street with the same name which was a full part of the old castle at the ancient time and reserved to Lords for religious devotions. Later on it was given up to the White Penitents Brotherhood, and at the beginning of the XX. Century the sacred aura of the chapel was taken away.
The old village was built around the highest point of Fleury called « La Cour de la Terrasse » which was in fact the Court of Honour of the castle. Leaving the terrace, an underground network permitted to flight away in case of danger although the history never told that the village was besieged before.
The legend still suggested that these undergrounds ended next to Notre Dame de Liesse….
Around the present « Place du Ramonétage » situated under the terrace were represented the whole stables of the Lords, last ones surmounted by the residences of the Ramonets ; Ramonet means at first a link to vassalage between the Lords of Midi and the powerful Raimond’s earls of Toulouse (ramonets signifiant small subjects of Raimond) and by successives expansions finished by make them responsibles workers for horses.
Nowadays all these vestiges which are mentioned by pictograms are part of the historic way of Fleury d’Aude ; the starting point is in front of the townhall. This walk would not be completed if there wouldn’t be a stay to the quite ancient parish church; in fact its construction remotes to the XI. Century and shows inside roman as well as gothic elements. After modifying, particularly at the XIX. Century, several improvements or face-lifts has been given to the church in the last two centuries. Little by little the church got free off the buildings around as well as the »necessity chalet » which was placed side by side and survived until the years 80th !
The outside front is now on classified « Monument historique » and inside can be admired among others, the stairway of the church tower which remains to the beginning of the XVIII. Century as well as the authentic stained-glass windows which evokes for some people the good facts of their patron saint, Saint Martin patron of the village. Many other places are worth to be seen by historic lovers or well-known walkers like the « Place de la Remise » or the bucolic chapel Notre Dame de Liesse as well as the old typical streets of the center or the « big » outside main roads like the ‘rue de Barris ‘ (in occitan language the suburb) where big wine-producer houses are situated. Up to the tradition and concerning the local architecture but also economic aspects made that all these buildings had integrated or beside them large caves which presented openings like arches as well as « chasse-roues » which helped to protect the corners of the houses. The floor in these caves had traditionnally large attic windows which made possible to heave up material or fodder by a bracket or a pulley. Beautiful stone constructions can be admired with frames in chalky stones for dwellings and always topped with decorative tiles. There was certainly a useful aim, but its requirements had more an esthetic particular symbolic ; in fact the social and economic standing of the owners could be seen by the number of rows, its bill and the significance of its tiles…
After this introduction which we wanted as most completed and if you want to know some more about the village, you have to ask now the inhabitants ; they would be happy to tell you stories and personal anecdotes ….