Located above the city of Villefranche-de-Conflent, upon the Belloc mountain, here’s the fort Libéria: a little gem made by the famous military architect Vauban in 1681, linked to the city by an underground staircase (nickname “the 1000 stairs”). Because of the uneven soil, Vauban had to raise 3 superposed ramparts!
We visit 3 caves: the Cova Bastera, to discover Vauban’s underground fortifications: here took place a terrible news story… The Canaletes and Grandes Canalettes caves where we can see stalactites and concretions.
There’s a natural cave with stalactites and stalagmites transformed into a casemate with cannons by Vauban: the Cova Bastera. In case of siege, 500 people could take shelter here.
In 1674, a plot took place here: the conspiracy of Villefranche. The story took place just after France annexed the Roussillon, in 1674. The Spanish, angry with the French who threatened their lands in the Netherlands, came to pick a quarrel with them in the Pyrénées.
In the Cova Bastera, the miquelets (Catalan rebels) took shelter, just before they slaughtered the French garrison of Villefranche. We’ll find the plotters in the jail of the Castillet, in Perpignan, tortured… Plotters like the family of Inès de Llar, their heads cut and put in iron cages, hanged to Perpignan and Villefranche’s gates.
But our story began in Villefranche-de-Conflent, in family de Llar's house, exiled Catalans who moved in the city not long ago. The lord’s daughter, Inès, fell in love with an officer of the French garrison, Louis de Parlan. She knew that her family plotted to kill all the French in Villefranche and give the city to the Spanish… so she told about that to Louis. She was afraid for him, for his life…
She told him that in the night, 200 Spanish would hide in the Cova Bastera, and in the morning, they would enter secretly in the city. They would kill all the French garrison… Louis understood… and without a word, he went to alert the French Council of Roussillon, who immediately began to spy the Llar’s house, a place where they had their secret meetings. So, when they get ready to attack the French and the city, the Council sent their men and arrested the family: they locked them in the Castillet of Perpignan.
They were tortured and the flayed bodies of Inès’ father and brother were hung to Villefranche’s gates… Inès, humiliated, rejected by her family, was sent in a convent in Spain, where she died. Louis de Parlan, for his part, was appointed Villefranche’s commander after that plot.