The story begins almost 900 years ago. It is the year 1147 and the village of Verfeil is a nest of Cathar heretics. The famous abbot Bernard de Clairvaux – the foremost reformer of the Cistercian order – comes here to bring the population into the fold of the Catholic Church only to be met with rebuff and mockery. According to the legend taking his leave the abbot thunders against the village:
“Verfeil… cité de la verte feuille… que Dieu te dessèche” – “Verfeil … town of the green leaf … may God wither you!”
What happened next are 7 long and difficult years of drought, after which the first tree to spring up is a fig tree. Since then the fig tree leave is on the coat of arm of the village!
In more recent times – much more recent! – since 2012, the town celebrates each middle of October the “Fig Tree Festival”, a feast that highlight Verfeil’s historic heritage.
Situated some 20 km northwest of Toulouse the Verfeil is a nice little town well worth a call by any history interested visitor.
The town was founded in the 8th century when, on the location of the nowadays “chateau”, was erected a quadrangular fortification. Soon afterwards several peasants’ huts appeared at the feet of the fort: Verfeil was born.
After the troubled times brought by the Catharism emergence in the 12th century and the Religious Wars of the 16th century Verfeil went through a period of prosperity during the golden era of the “pastel”, the blue vegetable dye that brought riches to the area between the cities of Toulouse, Albi and Carcassonne where the town is located.
The most imposing building of Verfeil is its fortified “chateau”. A gigantic 3000 square meters (32,000 square feet) brick made structure it was built probably in the 12th century on the foundation of the older, 8th century fortification. It is here that in 1595 took place the Conference of Verfeil that recognized Henri IV as the Catholic King of France and thus ended the religious conflicts.