This is a tour aimed at adults with an interest in the Cathars. No prior knowledge is assumed, though in practice most people who attend these tours will have read one or more popular books on the Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade.
June 2018: Saturday 2 June Saturday 9 June.
September 2018: Saturday 22 September Saturday 29 September.
June 2019: Saturday 15 June Saturday 22 June.
September 2019: Saturday 7 September Saturday 14 September.
June 2020: Saturday 20 June Saturday 27 June.
September 2020: Saturday 5 September Saturday 12 September.
Group Size. Groups sizes are variable but seven is typical.
Who Were the Cathars?
Historical Context - The High Middle Ages
Where did Catharism come from?
Medieval warfare & siege techniques
The Albigensian Crusade
What are "Cathar Castles"?
The Inquisition and the end of Catharism
Some Interesting Questions
Consequences, Vestiges and Ramifications
Included is information on related topics such as techniques of medieval warfare, castle architecture, heraldry, feudalism, the role of the Catholic Church, the Count of Toulouse, Occitan culture, medieval politics, and source documents.
Places Visited, Outline Itinerary.
Schedule over 7 nights:
Day 1 Welcome. Arive at our hotel in time for supper.
Day 2 Termes and Arques. On day two we will head through the Corbiéres to visit the castle at Termes, which was besieged for several months during the Albigensian Crusade. Lunch is at a local restaurant. In the afternoon we will visit the castle at Arques, a spectacular construction of the fourteenth century, built by the family of one of the crusade leaders. Supper is at local gourmet restaurant.
Day 3 Carcassonne. Carcassonne, a world Heritage site, is the largest surviving medieval walled city in Europe. We visit the city walls, the site of several sieges, and also the Basilica, where Saint Dominic preached and Simon de Montfort was originally buried, see where the Inquision had their headquarters, and visit the Château Comtal, the Viscounts' castle within the Cité of Carcassonne.
Day 4 Puivert and Montségur. In the morning we drive into the Ariege and climb to the iconic Castle of Montségur where over 200 Cathars were burned alive in 1244 after a ten month siege. We also visit the museum (time permitting) and have lunch in the vilage of Montsegur. The afternoon is spent at the Château at Puivert, known for its troubadour history (Eleanor of Aquitaine also visited Puivert).
Day 5 Free day. A free day is provided. You can enjoy a day enjoying local markets, food or wine, or catching up with postcards.
Day 6 Fontfroide and Villerouge. On day three we head North-East towards Fontfroide. Fontfroide is a beautifully restored Cistercian abbey which played an important role in many of the events associated with the Albigensian Crusade. Lunch is at the abbey restaurant. In the afternoon we will visit the castle of Villerouge, once a residence of the Archbishops of Narbonne, where the last known Cathar Parfait was burned at the stake.
Day 7 Toulouse. Day seven includes a visit to the city of Toulouse. Here you will discover Toulouse's beautiful centre and see how the Cathars are remembered in the city's civic art and some of the monuments and sites that bring to life medieval battles and the activities of the Inquisition. Lunch will be at a favourite restaurant in the center of Toulouse. In the afternoon we will visit more historic sites in the heart of the city, which was besieged four times during the period of the Cathar Wars. In late afternoon we will return to our hotel before supper.
Day 8 Departure. Departure after breakfast.
The current cost (per person) is 2,900 Euros
INCLUDED: tour transport, 5 lunches (tour days), 6 suppers, 6 hotel nights, all entry fees.
EXCLUDED: Travel to and from the Languedoc, Lunch & Supper on the free day. Supper & accommodation on the last night.
The scheduled week tour starts at a hotel in Alet les Bains and ends at a hotel in Toulouse. Hotels are 3 star, selected for their traditional French ambience and connections with the story of the Catharsr, one rural, one in a city convenient for onward travel.
There are no age or health restrictions, but you should be aware that there is some uphill walking. The most demanding is Montsegur - about 40 minute uphill walk, but we go slowly and take several stops. A few people chose to skip this.
Prices are revised each year. If you book and pay a deposit this year, the price is fixed at that rate for the following year.
We aim to be as flexible as possible. Just let us know if you have any special requirements and we will try to accommodate them.