Cathar Country Tours of Cathar Castles in the Languedoc, France.

Tours of Cathar Castles in the Languedoc, France

 

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Tel: +33 (0)689 97 80 70
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Tour Locations
Aguilar
Albi
Alet-les-Bains
Arques
Avignonet
Béziers
Bram
Cabaret
Carcassonne
Cordes-sur-Ciel
Fanjeaux
Foix
Fontfroide
Hautpoul
Lagrasse
Lastours
Lavaur
Le Bezu
Les Casses
Mazamet
Minerve
Montaillou
Montségur
Muret
Peyrepertuse
Prouille
Puilaurens
Puivert
Queribus
Rennes-le-Château
St Hilaire
Termes
Toulouse
Villerouge-Termenès
 

Cathar Country Tours
Historical Tours of Cathar Castles in deep rural France
Led by James McDonald



Three Day Tours

Below are details of our three-day tours - three full days excluding day of arrival and day of departure - so four nights.

Availability dates and details for all out tours can be viewed here on our Tour Calendar. These tours may also available on other dates for groups of four or more.

All clients are offered free Concierge Services for their travel to the tour starting point and for their onward journey.

We have special rates for groups of 12 or more and for those who would have their own hotel arrangements. Please inquire for further details.



The Counts' Tour

This tour chronicles the history of the Cathars with an emphasis great commanders of the 13th-Century Cathar Crusade. James McDonald paints a fascinating picture of events following the roles of the Count of Toulouse, the Count of Foix, and Simon de Montfort, and their contribution to history. You will visit the iconic Castle of Montsegur, the Castle of Puivert where troubadours performed for Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Castle of Foix and the village of Montaillou where a whole village was arrested on suspicion of heresy, and Toulouse the center of Cathar belief.

Day 1 — Welcome

In the evening you are invited to the Château Saint-Ferriol for aperitifs and to meet others on the tour in an informal environment before supper at the château.

Day 2 — Castles of Montsegur and Puivert

The iconic Montségur was the "head and the seat" of the Cathar Church. Besieged by the French army in 1243 it fell in 1244, signalling the end of all Cathar resistance. Over 200 Cathars were burned alive here, refusing to renounce their faith. The visit includes the climb to the castle, a visit to the museum.

Lunch at a special secluded garden that serves traditional recipes with local produce.

After lunch we visit Puivert, This well-preserved castle with strong connections to both the Cathars and the Troubadours was owned by a Cathar family who were patrons to many troubadours. In 1210 it was besieged by the Crusaders. The family fled and a new Catholic lord installed, who built a new castle next to the old one. Our visit illuminates their enduring contributions to regional and European history in spite of the castle’s fall to a crusading army early in the Cathar Crusade.

Day 3 — Castles of Montaillou and Foix

In the morning we visit Foix, a town dominated by its well-preserved castle. The history of Foix highlights key military and political developments before and during the Crusade. Built on a 7th Century fortification, the castle became the home of the Counts of Foix, a series of exceptional personalities, including two who became important leaders of the Cathar cause during the crusade. We discuss their roles and influences of these counts.

Lunch at a selected restaurant.

In the afternoon we visit the village and château of Montaillou. This site was made famous by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie’s book ‘Montaillou: Village Occitan, 1294-1324’ . More is known about daily in a Medieval village as a result of the inquisitorial records used to describe this Medieval Languedoc community than in known anywhere else in medieval Europe

 

Day 4 — Full day in Toulouse

In Toulouse you will discover its beautiful centre and see how the Cathars and the Counts of Toulouse are remembered in the city’s civic art and living heritage. The city’s monuments and sites bring to life key events in the development of Languedoc’s Cathar traditions, the growth of monastic orders and the activities of the Inquisition.

Lunch at selected restaurant in Place Wilson

Following lunch in an excellent restaurant in the heart of the city we will visit more historic sites that trace the critical events associated with three separate sieges during the Cathar Crusade.

Day 5 — Departure

 


The Viscount's Tour

This tour chronicles the history of the Cathars with an emphasis on the Trencavels, Viscounts of Carcassonne, Béziers, Albi and the Razés, who were the first victims of the 13th-Century Cathar Crusade. James McDonald paints a fascinating picture of the fate of the Trencavels and their contribution to history.

You will visit the spectacular towns of Albi and Cordes-sur-Ciel, / Avignonet, Lavaur, Les Casses, Mazamet and Hautpoul.

 

Day 1 — Welcome

In the evening you are invited to the Château Saint-Ferriol for aperitifs and to meet others on the tour in an informal environment before supper at the château.

Day 2 — Albi & Cordes sur Ciel

We visit Albi a picturesque town which gave its name to the Albigensian Crusade. We visit the pectacular Cathedral and the Bishop's palace. Lunch at a selected restaurant. In the afternoon we visit Cordes-sur-Ciel a hilltop town founded by the Count of Toulouse for refugees from the Crusaders.

Day 3 — Avignonet, Lavaur & Les Casses

Avignonet - Site of a Château belonging to the Count of Toulouse where a team of inquisitors were murdered in 1242. Lunch at a selected restaurant.

Lavaur - Cathedral, site of atrocity during the Cathar Wars (over 400 were burned here). Les Casses - Site of a mass burning of Cathars. (60 Cathars were burned here)

Day 4 — Mazamet & Hautpoul

Mazamet - Museum of Catharism with an interesting recreation of Cathar ceremonies.

Lunch at a selected restaurant.

Hautpoul - Site of a siege during the War against the Cathars belonging to an important vassal of the Trencavels.

Day 5 — Departure

 


The Carcassonne Tour

This tour chronicles the history of the Cathars with an emphasis on the strongholds associated with Raymond-Roger Trencavel, Viscount of Carcassonne, and his son Raymond II, the first victims of the 13th-Century Cathar Crusade. James McDonald paints a fascinating picture of the role of the Trencavels and their major vassals. We will visit the spectacular walled city of Carcassonne with its spectacularChâteau Comtal the seat and capital of the Viscount of Carcassonne. We also visit capitals of two major baronies dependent on the Viscount of Carcassonne Lastours (aka Cabaret) and Minerve. On the third day we visit the Cistercian Abbey of Fontfroide and the Donjon of Arques, both connected with another important barony.

 

Day 1 — Welcome

In the evening you are invited to the Château Saint-Ferriol for aperitifs and to meet others on the tour in an informal environment before supper at the château.

Day 2 — Albi & Cordes sur Ciel

We visit Albi - picturesque town which gave its name to the Albigensian Crusade. Spectacular Cathedral.

Cordes sur Ciel - Hilltop town founded by the Count of Toulouse for refugees from the Crusaders.

Day 3 — Lastours (Cabaret) / Minerve

We visit capitals of two major, but very different, baronies dependent on the Viscount of Carcassonne, Lastours (aka Cabaret) and Minerve, which both played an important part in the early stages of the Cathar Crusades. In the morning we visit Lastours (Cabaret), a medieval village with three Cathar Châteaux which withstood repeated sieges by the Crusaders.

Lunch at a selected restaurant.

In the morning we visit Minerve, a Cathar Château and castrum where between 140 and 180 Cathars were burned alive in 1211.

Day 4 — Fontfroide / Arques

On the third day we visit the Cistercian Abbey of Fontfroide and the Donjon of Arques, both connected with the important barony of Termes.

Day 5 — Departure


 

The Five Sons of Carcassonne Tour

This tour chronicles the history of the Cathars with an emphasis on the Five Sons of Carcassonne: Peyrepertuse, Queribus, Aguilar, Puilaurens and Termes - five rugged castles with Cathar connections that were taken over by the kings of France, which became important royal border fortresses for 400 years. We also visit Lagrasse and Villerouge-Termenès, both closely associated with Termes.

 

Day 1 — Welcome

In the evening you are invited to the Château Saint-Ferriol for aperitifs and to meet others on the tour in an informal environment before supper at the château.

Day 2 — Peyrepertuse & Queribus

In the morning we visit the spectacular Château of Peyrepertuse.

Lunch at a selected restaurant.

In the afternoon we visit the spectacular Château of Queribus from which we can see the ruins of the Château of Aguilar (and, on a particularly clear day, the Mediterranean Sea in the distance.)

Day 3 — Villerouge-Termenès & Puilaurens

In the morning we visit the Château of Villerouge-Termenès once a bailiwick of the Archbishops of Narbonne, who had the last known Cathar perfect burned alive here.

Lunch at a selected restaurant.

In the afternoon we visit the spectacular Château of Puilaurens.

Day 4 — Termes & Lagrasse

Termes

In the morning we visit the Château of Termes and vestiges of the cite of Termes , besieged for several months by Simon de Montfort in 1210.

Lunch at a selected restaurant.

In the afternoon we visit the spectacular Abbey of Lagrasse.

Day 5 — Departure


 

 

 

 

 

Group Size

Groups sizes are variable, but seven is typical.

 

Flexibility

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.

These tours are primarily historic, factual and focused on the Cathars, though we do touch on some of the popular mythology now attached to them - "Languedoc Mysteries", including beliefs concerning Mary Magdalene, Rennes-le-Château (a neighboring village) and its reputed treasure, Bugarach (a nearby "sacred mountain"), Languedoc Templars, the Medieval Kabbalah, and the Voynich Manuscript.

 

 

Gift Vouchers

If you want to buy tours for someone else, perhaps as a birthday, Christmas or Valentine's day present, we are happy to issue gift certificates. Please contact us for further details.

 

 

The Château Fort (Castle) of Montsegur

The Château Fort (Castle) of Montsegur

 

Cathar Talk at the Château de St Ferriol

 

The Battle of Muret, 1213

The Battle of Muret, 1213

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
     
 

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• © James McDonald • e-mail: contact@catharcountry.info •