This is a tour aimed at English-speaking 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.
September 2019: 9 am, Sunday 15 September 5 pm, Friday 20 September.
June 2020: 9 am, Sunday 21 June 5 pm, Friday 26 June.
September 2020: 9 am, Sunday 6 September 2020 5 pm, Friday
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 6 days, 5 nights:
We start at 9am on Sunday, so recommend that participants arrive earlier and stay overnight in Toulouse.
Day 1 Sunday Toulouse. We visit the ancient city of Toulouse. Here you will discover Toulouse's beautiful centre, learn about Cathar beliefs, the medieval Counts of Toulouse, the historic role of the City of Toulouse, and the feudal system. Lunch will be at a restaurant in the center of Toulouse. We will also trace the history of the Dominicans, who were founded explicitly to combat the Cathars, and who founded and operated the first papal inquisitions.
Day 2 Monday Termes and Arques. We head through the Corbiéres to visit the castle at Termes, which was besieged for several months during the Albigensian Crusade and is one of the best attested sieges of the middle ages. Lunch is at a local restaurant. In the afternoon we will visit the castle at Arques, a spectacular donjon of the fourteenth century, built by the family of one of the crusade leaders and discuss the theory and practice of medieval crusading.
Day 3 Tuesday Fontfroide. Fontfroide is a beautifully restored Cistercian abbey which played an important role in many of the events associated with the Albigensian Crusade. We will discuss distinctive features of twelfth century Cistercians. Lunch is at the abbey restaurant, after which we visit the abbey gardens and discuss the role of monasticism, including military monasticism, specifically militias, Cistercian justifications for killing, Cistercians & crusading, fighting monks, and the foundation of the Knights Templar.
Day 4 Wednesday Free day / Carcassonne. A free day is provided. You can enjoy a day enjoying local markets, food or wine, or catching up with postcards. Transport is provided to Carcassonne, a world Heritage site, and the largest surviving medieval walled city in Europe. You can 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 Inquisition had their headquarters, and do a self-guided tour of the Château Comtal, the Viscounts' castle within the Cité of Carcassonne.
Day 5 Thursday Montségur & Puivert. 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 village of Montsegur. The afternoon is spent at the Château at Puivert, known for its troubadour history, where a famous canso was composed, possibly for Eleanor of Aquitaine. We will also discuss the Occitan language, the origin of Romance and Romantic Love, and the origin of the troubadour tradition.
Day 6 Friday Foix. In the morning we visit the castle of Foix, the capital of the medieval Counts of Foix, who were major players in the Cathar Wars, and the most able and accomplished commanders on the side of the Occitan forces.
From Foix we will return to Toulouse, where the tour ends.
The current cost (per person) is 2,900 Euros
INCLUDED: tour transport, 5 lunches, 5 hotel nights (days 1 to 5), all entry fees.
EXCLUDED: Travel to and from the Languedoc; breakfasts, lunch on day 4, suppers. Hotel nights for days 0 and 6.
The tour starts and ends in Toulouse. You are free to make your own arrangements to get to and from Toulouse. We can recommend suitable hotels.
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.
Of the total cost you may pay the total on booking, or if you prefer 40% on booking and 60% 60 days before the start of the tour (ie currently 1,160 + 1,740 = 2,900 Euros)
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.