Cathar Country Tours
Historical Tours of Cathar Castles in deep rural France
Led by James McDonald
The "Original" One Week Tour
This is an introductory tour aimed at adults with an interest
in the Cathars. No prior knowledge is assumed, though in practice
most people who attend these "Original" tours will have
read one or more popular books on the Cathars and the Albigensian
(A more Advanced Tour
is available for writers, academics, experts and other aficionados,
including those who have already attended the "Original"
one week tour).
2017 Tour Dates
June 2017: Saturday 3 June Saturday 10 June.
September 2017: Saturday 2 September Saturday 9
2018 Tour Dates
June 2018: Saturday 2 June Saturday 9 June.
June 2018: Saturday 16 June Saturday 23 June.
September 2018: Saturday 8 September Saturday 15
Groups sizes are variable but seven is typical.
- Who Were the Cathars?
- Cathar Beliefs
- 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
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 Termes and Arques
On day two we will head North-East 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 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. After a stop at your hotel you will be brought to Château
Saint Ferriol for a supper of Renaissance recipes.
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
Day 5 Free day
A free day is provided. You can enjoy a day of respite enjoying
local markets, food or wine. For those who want to see more Cathar
Castles we can offer practical and logistic advice. People typically
choose to either do something together or rest and catch up with
Day 6 Carcassonne
Day six is dedicated to Carcassonne, a world Heritage site,
and the largest surviving medieval walled city in Europe. In the
morning we will visit the city walls the site of several sieges,
and also the Basilica, where Saint Dominic preached and Simon
de Montfort was originally buried. We will take lunch within the
Cité and in the afternoon visit the Château Comtal,
the Viscounts' castle within the Cité of Carcassonne. In
late afternoon we will leave for Toulouse for supper and our hotel.
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.
The price for scheduled tours is 2,750 Euros per person. This
includes accommodation, meals including a supper at the Château
St Ferriol, wine, entrance fees and transport during the tour.
The tour price excludes travel to the Languedoc, airport collection,
bar bills, and meals on the free day. A single room occupancy
supplement is 210 Euros for the whole week.
If you are flying in and would like picking up from any local
airport - Carcassonne, Toulouse, Perpignan, Bezièrs, or
Puivert private airport - please let us know and we will help
you make arrangements. (Ryanair Flies to Carcassonne airport from
England, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, Denmark, Holland and Portugal)
If you are driving there, we can provide detailed instructions.
For Group rates (6+) and any other queries, please contact us.
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 Magdelene, Rennes-le-Château (a
neighbouring village) and its reputed treasure, Bugerach (a nearby
"sacred mountain"), Languedoc Templars, the Medieval
Kabbalah, and the Voynich Manuscript.
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.