Arques is located in the Pyrénées mountains some 25 km south-east of Limoux and 25 km north-east of Quillan. Access to the commune is by the D613 road from Serres in the west passing through the village and continuing to Albières in the east. The D54 goes north from the village to Valmigère. At the commune border the D70 branches from the D54 and follows a tortuous route to Bouisse. The commune is an alpine commune with rugged terrain but with some farms in the valley.
The Rialsesse river flows though the centre of the commune and the village from east to west gathering many tributaries. In the south the Ruisseau de Lait with many tributaries rise in the commune and flow north-west into the Lac d'Arques (Arques Lake) which feeds the Rialsesse.
The area was owned by the Abbey of Lagrasse in the early 11th century, before coming under the control of the Lords of Termes. In 1231 the region was given by Simon de Montfort to Pierre de Voisins after the Albigensian Crusade. His successor, Gilles de Voisins, began the construction of the castle in 1280 and the organization of the Bastide. It was the northern barons who came to occupy the land of the Cathar heretics under the order of Pope Innocent III. The dynasty of Voisins was extinguished in 1518 with the marriage of Françoise with Jean de Joyeuse, a member of the House of Joyeuse who therefore became the owner of the lordship and barony of Arques. Arques castle was abandoned in favour of the Château des Ducs de Joyeuse (Castle of the Dukes of Joyeuse) in Couiza. Lords and barons of Arques-barons were hereditary barons of Languedoc (Pays d'états) and had a permanent seat in the Estates of Languedoc.
In 2009 the commune had 268 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known from the population censuses conducted in the commune since 1793. From the 21st century, a census of communes with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants is held every five years, unlike larger towns that have a sample survey every year.[Note 1]
Pierre de Voisins (1177-1233), Lord of Voisins-le-Bretonneux, then Limoux, Arques, Reddes, Caderonne, Couiza, and Bugarach. In 1191 he went on the Third Crusade. In 1209 he took part in the Albigensian Crusade. Lieutenant of Simon de Montfort who entrusted him with several lordships in Carcassonne and Razes after the fall of the Château de Termes. He was Baron of Arques.
^At the beginning of the 21st century, the methods of identification have been modified by Law No. 2002-276 of 27 February 2002, the so-called "law of local democracy" and in particular Title V "census operations" allows, after a transitional period running from 2004 to 2008, the annual publication of the legal population of the different French administrative districts. For communes with a population greater than 10,000 inhabitants, a sample survey is conducted annually, the entire territory of these communes is taken into account at the end of the period of five years. The first "legal population" after 1999 under this new law came into force in 1 January 2009 and was based on the census of 2006.
^Charles d'Hozier, Armorial General of Persons, Places, Companies, Corps, and Communities of the department of Aude, Imprimerie François Pomiès, Augustin Cornet-Peyrusse, 1876, Carcassonne, 124 pages, Read online(French)
^Arms of the communes of the department of Aude, Departmental Archives of Aude, Henri Sivade, 1996, Carcassonne, 128 pages, ISBN 2-86011-012-7(French)