The origins of the town of Bages on which is situated the Castle of Prat  de Cest date back to the prehistory.  According to the historians, the tools discovered in BAGES would testify the human presence as early as the inferior Paleolithic (80.000 years).  Without any doubt, the men of  N�andertal, then of Cro-magnon stayed on the shores of the gulf of Narbonne (edge of the sea, at this time).  The discovery of  of the Neolithic sites proves the existence of important human communities at this era. 


In Prat of Cest domain, it was found a pottery fragment; two hypotheses are raised for that: it is a  cardiale pottery fragment  dating  5th  thousand years B.C. Decoration made using a shellfish called cardium) or decorated with a nail?  The second more plausible hypothesis would date back to the installation of the first Weinenfelder (750- 650 B.C.) who realized decorated potteries with parallel sillons and vertical incised lines or of impressions done with a hollow reed (thesis of Gayraud)?  


Roman History

Bages, formerly, formed the pre harbor of Narbonne.  When close to Bages, you have to stop to "PRATUM SEXTUM" ("the meadows of the sixth one"), to the sixth milliary boundary, an important relay on the  Domitienne via along the property

Well before the Romans, passed here those that borrowed the h�racl�enne way  (A way followed by Hercules at the time of his trip from Greece to Hesp�rides).  An underground aqueduct, recognized at first century,  is perhaps linked to an  antique habitat installation. 

Hannibal himself, in 219 B.C.,  would have rested here, with the nearly sixty elephants which would  cross the Alps and overcome Rome.




The tumblers of Vicarello
The tumblers of Vicarello are four tumblers of money of the era of Augustus, found close to the lake of Bracciano and preserved in the Thermal Baths museum in Roma. They describe the steps and the distances of an itinerary from Roma to Gades (Cadiz, in Spain).  The names of the cities of the Narbonnaise via are engraved on the tumblers of Vicarello that also furnished vertical lists of relay with the number of miles  separating them.                                                                     


  To the 2nd and 1st century B.C.,  the meadows and fields of the 6th miles or stadium after Narbonne, are named Combusta*, they will become three centuries later Pratum Sextum, as testified by the tumblers of Vicarello, offered to the richest  hydrotherapy's Roman patients.  

*The etymology of Combusta probably comes from the fact that the periphery of Narbonne had been ravaged and burnt to the final combustion  by the Celts of Toulouse, envious of the native power of the future Narbo, also called at this era Elycia, Elysiques city, or Nero.  

Then, the Romans founded a colony called Narbonne.  When the Consul Domitius Ahenobarbus, about 130 before Jesus Christ, decided to repair and to consolidate the  phoceo-phenician way, it was in accordance with the primitive boundary and marking: small boundaries had been placed stadium by stadium, according to the European and Asian Greek usage.  Polybe precises:  "When the Romans repaired this via, they maintained the stadiums already establish while adding them 8 by 8, they erected to every thus obtained distance a milliary boundary. 

A Mansio (refuge with possibility of changing the horses and housing travelers) was found here.  Tracks of the Roman presence testify an agricultural life in Pratum sextum, at the era of Augustus (1st century after Jesus Christ). 

An old coin was found, about ten years ago, a little bie sideway of the via, at3.80 meter depth, when installing a fouloir.  It is a so called AS of N�mes that can be dated from year 40th.  Backside, the leaned heads of Augustus and Agrippa. On the front, the crocodile of N�mes money with a specific marking allowing the coin circulation.


A plow (plough soc) was equally discovered on the spot.  In 2009, in the Prat de Cest vines, Evelyne ALLIEN found sigill�e pottery fragments , most probably coming from the "manufacture" of GRAUFESENQUE (close to Millau). 


Medieval History

1023 : Pratum Sextum (II.L.V.p180)

1138 : Casal de Sest (Doat.39.F4)

1288 : Grangia ad Prad des Sest (Arch.Com.Narbonne AA101 f�31)

1306 : Prato Sexto (Arch.Com.Narbonne)

1306-1500 : Prat de Cest (Arch AH 211 F�36)



The Prat de Cest domain, whith the 11th Century buildings are still visible today, was the property of the viscounts of Narbonne up to 1156.  

March 20th 1156, the viscontess Ermengarde of Narbonne ( Aymeri dynasty) donated the Tower and Bastide of Prat de Cest to the Holy Hospital Saint Juste and Saint Pasteur  of Narbonne.  




In March 20th, 1156 Donation made by Ermengarde vicontesse of Narbonne at the Holy hospital Just and the Holy Pasteur of Prat de Cest's earth

In the name of God, it has to be known to any presents and to the future that Me, Ermengarde, viscountess, by my spontaneous willingness and for the salute of my soul and of my relatives I give without limitation, I give to Lord God and to hospital of Saints Just and Pasteur and to you Arnaud, current director and to Bernard your colleague and to all your successors in this function known as said hospital, which serve God to feed and restore the poor men of the Christ, all this hospital situated and based in the said place Prat de Cest with all its buildings, its entrances and exits, all its dependences and with all the increases and the improvements which you can make and acquire for God's honor, for food and catering of the poor men passing there and coming here so that they find the charity, the resources and the hospitality there.

And I make it me, Lady Ermengarde, viscountess known  on this condition that you and all your successors living  in the hospital already named of Saints Just and a Pasteur, for the benefit of God you have, possess and occupy in any property under your dependence and your administration all the hospital already named by Prat de Ceste with all his its memberships and dependences, for life, and that you know that this one must be jointly managed, maintained as yours of best that you will can in a way that the poor men passing there can find help and hospitality there. But if ever in  Prat de Cest's hospital a man or a woman harms you,  you or to your successors, in any way, I promise you and your successors, that me and my offspring with all my power I shall protect you and shall defend against every criminals as much as I shall can and shall make so that you have and possessed known says hospital

According to the parchment made the twentieth of March of the year of the embodiment of Lord eleven hundred and fifty sixth, under the reign of king Louis.

The Consuls of NABONNE, administrators of the hospital of the Cross of NARBONNE, alienate ballots 23 setiers of wheat, and subject to the document, the ancient country-house and Prat de Cest's tower and the lands which depend on it..

To the springs of the WINE

GG 1818                                                          A.M. Narbonne     GG 1832                                                          A.M. Narbonne
In January 2nd 1172-1231 Latin - parchment

Transcription made in 1231 by Arnaud de Calvo, public letter-writer of Narbonne, the lease for new achept made by Ghibelline of Matt and his nephews for Arnaud Aldeburge, of two pieces of land in the  soil of PRAT CEST under the condition to work them and to pay the annual tax, with the ease to plant these pieces of land in vineyard
In August 12th, 1177 - Latin - parchment

Donnation made by Raymonde de Bages and Hugues, his brother, of the consent and Marie's will, their mother, for god's love and redemption of the souls of their father and grandfather, for God and in the Virgin Mary, and at saint Just de Narbonne's hospital, at Hugues, master of the aforementioned hospital of all the rights which they could claim in any manners it is on the
adjacent vineyard  of the house of PRAT OF CEST and on the vineyard of ESTARAC
One of the first vineyards existing in Languedoc is situated in Prat de Cest's castle as given evidence of it by both extracts on parchment above.

Castle History

In the southeast  the church is implanted, of which we ignore the holy patron, but who finds thanks to the owners of the place,  its original purity. We penetrate there by two doors, the one in the Southwest, the other one to the "Cers "( North) said " door of the deaths " with an access to the Via Domitia; it is enlightened by a window of axis in simple "�brasement". The nave of 8 m of length andits cradled bent  is slightly wider than the altar of 5 m, which is flat-bottomed, of  wisigothique period (7th century AC) and also bent. The walls are made by beautiful high and regular stones. It is believed that this church   replaced after a prosperity period, authenticated by a charter of viscountess Ermengarde of 1156, a former church, the plan of which would also be in square head and the assizes of which showed, by soundings, to be higher than those of the Romanic church. It is very likely that an exploitation with its church of  wisigothique period overlaped a Roman house.


In the South raises the impressive mass of the castle built by 1100 too in beautiful stones and arrived almost intact , as regards the ground floor 

It contains only a single room bent in cradle of 20 m per 8 m at the ground floor.

The ground floor which was of use to the welcome the pilgrims on Santiago de Compostelae roads




St Jacques

  Vault room salle_voutee


Three floors existed: the basement which had to act as storeroom with reserves


Finally, the floor devolved to the patients welcome  and to the hospitality; this floor; always existing, contains its own baker's oven of the XIIth century FOUR A PAIN   Two other baker's ovens, which seem later built, are present in the domain and served until the war of 1940!) (photo of the baker's oven)   Four 2

puit In the wall the South is the well, of square section, and which maybe Roman, but inside the fortification, and which, thus, allowed to resist any siege of the Tower and Prat de Cest's ancient country-house.


It is in the North where opens in a wide wall of 1.80 m of thickness a door with double arcature, to allow the operation of the harrow.

In the South had to be a postern, defended by a bret�che, no more than two ravens of which remain

We reached the floor by a staircase fitted out in the thickness of the wall. This part of the building, which must be reserved for the habitation, was transformed by modern arrangements and lost its defensive crowning (in particular during the religious wars in 1575) Nevertheless this set, church and castle, of PRAT of CEST, indicates perfectly the medieval influence on the way of the old road, which leads in Spain. XIVth CENTURY: on 1330, transaction between the Monastery of FONTFROIDE (which is close to Prat de Cest beyond the hill in Cers, other property and abbey established by Ermengarde and the consuls of The Holy Just Hospital  and the Holy Pasteur of Narbonne.


XVI th CENTURY In 1502, Pierre David gives the Tower to Raymond de la Vinheta, his cousin, merchand in Narbonne.

In 1526, purchase of lands by Monsieur de Montbrun, member of the  tr�gouin family whose property kept the blazon  in its stone.




May 26th, 1575, during the religious wars, archbishops of Narbonne required the three fortresses to be destroyed  � abatuz et randuz ind�ffandables , affin que lesd. Ennemys ne s’en puissent amparer et se fortiffier dans icelles contre le service de Dieu et du Roy " �

XVII th Century

1639 : Chasteau de Prat de Cest( Arch.Com.Narbonne- sur Roques III-89)

1675 : compoix  concernant des parcelles appartenant au baron de Prat de Cest.

1697 : le Baron de Montbrun propri�taire de Prat Cest et Maire de Narbonne a un proc�s avec la Mairie de Bages

XVIII th Century

Courtal de Ceste -  Cassini map








1711 : reconnaissance de terres aux  cisterciens de  Fontfroide  .

1773 : quittance par le Monast�re de Fontfroide en faveur de Monsieur  Azeau , p�re -fermier .

1782 : vente du Ch�teau de Prat de Cest� Monsieur Chavard�s.

XIX th Century

1806 : Exchange of the propoerty  with  Marc Fran�ois Arnaud ( de Peyriac) ancestor of the present owners

1807- 1814 : Selling the remaining part of the domain to Monsieur Marc Fran�ois Arnaud

Prat de Cest is then given to his two daughters , one is  Avelina Razouls who will ensure the domain perennisation.




Family History


   Avelina Razouls (1818-1889)

Married to her cousin Adolphe, will be thanks to his daughter L�onie, married to Dieudonn� Duffour de la Vern�de, the carrier branch of all our descent in this lineage. The land heritage of Avelina and the name of its domains marked the professional and family life of her descendants.

We find her history in Emmanuelle Mandrou's thesis on " The Heritage of the big families in the XIXth century ":

Avelina Razouls has brother L�once .As their father has two domains, she receives Prat de Cest's domain and his brother the one of Grangette. The sharing act of Jean-Pierre Razouls's properties stipulates important securities with an inheritance part of each of 682.676-franc for the heirs. Thanks to this inheritance, she acquires in 1873 the Castle of Lebrettes from  Gustave de Martin-Donos .
Avelina dies on April 6th, 1889; the sharing of the only securities composing its succession is made by an act registered to the office of Narbonne on May 11th, 1889

In fifteen years, the property of the deceased became three times more important than that inherited from his father; it is necessary to say that this fortune is linked to the spirit of Avelina, which, in the difficult years of the first decades of the XIXth century, when the starvation raged in all Languedoc, has done, by means of her nephew, marine captain Fauran (native as his aunt of Sigean, The Palm),  a chartering of four ships in the harbour of  La Nouvelle. These boats brought back wheat from the depths of Spain and their cargo allowed, on the way back, to feed thestarving populations from the region.





1860: Prat de Cest is less populated than Pesquis, but develops considerably thanks to its big vineyards - It is the golden age of the vine - but also due to the growing importance of the traffic on the main road number 9. The castle runs its traditional relay vocation on the Via Domitia, becoming Via Mercad�ria at Ermengarde erea.

Afterward, Prat de Cest will not stop progressing with 737 inhabitants in the village in 1911.

Avelina bequeaths Prat de Cest's castle to her daughter Marie-Gabrielle L�onie Razouls ( 1843-1914 ). This one married Dieudonn� Duffour de La Vern�de, owner of the Castle de la Vern�de at Quissac in the H�rault.

De la Vernede



L�onie Duffour de la Vern�de bequeaths to her youngest and the fifth child, Marthe (on 1877 - 1969) Prat de Cest's property. This one married Raoul Balay�, living in the Castle Dudon at Barsac, in Sauternais .


Le ch�teau de ma m�re

Marthe � l'�coe

Marthe in school

Leonie Raoul

Raoul Balay� died when 29-year-old from an appendicitis, Marthe lived alone, very old, and bequeathed the property to their daughter Ren�e (on 1903 - 1986), married to Colonel Herteman.
Ren�e presides over the fates of the property until 1960, when she bequeaths it to her daughter Jacqueline (on 1924)



Jacqueline and Jacques Saumade, her husband, use their leisure activities and pension to perform the restoration of the medieval buildings and to the restructuration of the vineyard.

When retired, Jacqueline gives the exploitation to her daughters: Marie-Aude ( 1956 ), usufructuary, and Evelyne ( 1952 ), owner. The younger children of Evelyne and Michel Allien continues now the family tradition succeeding a lineage of seven women successive owners.