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26/06/2012
Press release
Puilaurens Castle in Aude, France: lighting up a first Cathar fortress

Toulouse, 26 June – SPIE Sud-Ouest announces the launch of work on installations to light up Puilaurens fortress.
At an altitude of nearly 700 metres, the Puilaurens site is one of the most remarkable examples of mediaeval architecture. By the end of July, it will be the first Cathar castle to be fitted with specially designed monument lighting. Work to install 96 LED spotlights on the cliffs surrounding the site and inside the fortress was begun on June 26 by SPIE Sud-Ouest's Narbonne works unit (Infrastructures and Networks office) in partnership with Versant (a company specialising in acrobatic installation operations) and CETUR LR (a firm specialising in consulting, engineering and construction of various types of complex network). “In lighting up Puilaurens Castle, we viewed the site in the context of its natural surroundings. The lighting system shows the silhouette of the rocky crag and highlights the castle's architecture while remaining in harmony with the site's natural characteristics and maintaining an air of mystery at night,” says Anne Bureau of Wonderfulight, the company that designed the lighting installation. “The idea isn't to put the castle under the spotlight but rather to give it visual impact at night. In keeping with moonlight, the lighting hues used are cold white for the castle and pale blue for the rocky crag.” The system installed will require 40% less energy than a conventional monument lighting installation (7.7 kW/h as compared with 12.4 kW/h). Owing to the site's difficult access, maintenance will also be kept to a minimum by using LEDs with an average life of 80,000 hours, against 12,000 hours for conventional light bulbs). This project was first mooted more than 50 years ago by Lapradelle-Puilaurens municipal council but proved impossible to implement until now owing to technical problems such as the limited power of spotlights and the difficulty of installing equipment on the site's cliff faces. Now that it has become technically feasible, it is being closely watched by other historic sites in the Cathar region which may adopt similar solutions in the near future. “Lighting up a site like this is a real technical challenge”, points out Jean-Michel Vila, head of the Aude & Pyrénées-Orientales department at SPIE Sud-Ouest's Infrastructures and Networks office. “Thanks to our experience and the technologies we use, we will equip the castle with optimal monument lighting while minimising energy consumption for the local authority.” “With some 30,000 visitors a year, it was essential to give the site new charm and vitality with lighting clearly visible from the village,” explains Jacky Galy, mayor of Lapradelle-Puilaurens. “Thanks to financial support on every level (European, State, regional and département) and the backing of the Cathar historical sites association and the various administrative agencies concerned, we have at last been able to implement this long-standing project. We chose SPIE Sud-Ouest to take charge of this project because their tender was the best in every way: technical expertise, customer references, safety standards especially for work at heights, lead times and commitment of personnel.” Works schedule:
  • 26 June: heli-winching of equipment to site
  • 26 June to 17 July: installation of lighting inside the castle and on the cliffs (acrobatic work)
  • 18 to 20 July: lighting adjustment
  • 20 July: lighting up of site
  • 28 July: inauguration of the lighting system
Press contacts

SPIE SA
Pascal Omnès
Communications director
Tel.: +33 (0)1 34 22 58 21 
e-mail: pascal.omnes@spie.com

SPIE Sud-Ouest
Aurélie Antajan
Communications manager
Tel.: +33 (0)5 61 36 78 24
e-mail: a.antajan@spie.com

Agence Droit Devant
Philippe Hériard
Tel.: + 33(0)1 39 53 53 33
e-mail: heriard@droitdevant.fr