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Pyrénées-Orientales: Depopulated by its inhabitants, the village of Perillos is gradually reborn from its ruins

Perillos, soon no longer an abandoned village? Finally, a new plaque indicates, since Monday, June 6, the presence of this hamlet belonging to the municipality of Opoul-Périllos, the northernmost of the Catalan countries. Thanks to the action of the association Terre de Pierres, the village finds a new life.

A very lively place. On this Pentecost Monday, a traditional day of celebration in Périllos, the municipality inaugurated a plaque at the entrance to this former town located in the heart of the Corbières and attached since 1972 to its neighbor Opoul. A gesture with strong symbolic value for this northernmost village of the Catalan countries (although Occitan was spoken there rather), whose last inhabitant, a shepherd, left the place in the 1970s.

The mayor of Opoul-Périllos, Patrick Sarda, and Estelle Dedebant, 2nd deputy and future resident of Périllos?
Independent – Clementz Michel

Our objective is to give a second life to Perillos and to eradicate these clichés of an abandoned village. We prefer life to death, and Perillos fully has its place in our territory.“, declared Patrick Sarda, mayor of Opoul-Périllos, during the ceremony. Lately, the hamlet has indeed been better known for its ghost hunters or lovers of esotericism, several legends evoking the presence of treasures such as those of the Abbot Saunière of Rennes-le-chateau, of the Count of Perillos, who became grand knight of the Order of Malta, or even the Grail…

Proof of this revival, four old houses have already been rehabilitated in 15 years by the association Terre de Pierres while others should follow. Next step: find occupants for them when the project is sufficiently complete.

In the medium term, we would like life to continue in one way or another.

If we rebuild houses, it’s to put people in them, not so that they become a reserve or a tourist site. We want there to be life, people who work, for it to be an integral part of the economy of our territory.“, continues the aedile.

Many inhabitants of Opoul and elsewhere had made the trip to Périllos.

Many inhabitants of Opoul and elsewhere had made the trip to Périllos.
Independent – Clementz Michel

A rebirth for this village not spared by the wars, the bad harvests due to the lack of water, the obligation for the children to go to school on foot, ten kilometers further, and little by little emptied of its inhabitants from the 14-18 war and until the last, a shepherd, in the 70s. “There were very few vines here, it was mostly herds. Life was difficult and people ended up going down to work and live in Opoul. Some families came back from time to time during the holidays…“, says Firmin Pujol, winegrower and former first deputy of Opoul.

An elected official at the origin of the arrival of these newcomers, in 2006, when there were only two houses left standing. “We went to see the work they had done in the Gard, it was magnificent. If they hadn’t come to renovate Perillos, there would only be ruins left today..”

Even if there is still work to be done, starting with the problem of water and purification, or even the absence of a telephone network… A task that does not seem to frighten the members of Terre de Pierre, who plan to reinvest in the village year-round. “There is no finalized project in the short term, but in the medium term we would like life to be perpetuated in one way or another, even if that requires particular rigor“, explains Clément Bichet, one of the three founding members and year-round mason at Opoul.

The members of Terre de Pierres, future inhabitants of Périllos in the medium term?

The members of Terre de Pierres, future inhabitants of Périllos in the medium term?
Independent – Clementz Michel

For them too, Perillos is far from being an abandoned village. “The people who left here never left him. It was a form of heartbreak for some to have had to leave the place and they have always maintained the church or the cemetery… There has always been a deep attachment.”

Already 15 years of presence for Terre de Pierres.

In the early 2000s, Clément Bichet, Gaël Gautier and Estelle Dedebant (now Opoul-Périllos’ second assistant) took part in an association project to restore the village of Saint-Victor-la-Coste (Gard), where they take a passion for this profession and this way of life.

After discovering Périllos in 2006, they submitted a restoration project for the village using Mediterranean rural construction techniques. The association then rented communal plots with a long-term lease of 40 years and set up summer camps in 2007 with hundreds of young volunteers from all over Europe to learn different techniques and revitalize the place.

In 15 years, the association has rehabilitated several houses or maintained dry stone constructions and is also involved in local heritage with the reconstruction of the Château d’Opoul in partnership with Friends of the castle. land of stones also organizes its traditional Aperillos every Wednesday evening in the summer…

A commitment welcomed by the mayor of the town, Patrick Sarda. “My predecessor Jean-François Carrère had the courage to welcome them and it was ultimately a success because they were the architects of this revival of Perillos.

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