Scheduled Week Tours.

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 2023:
9 am, Saturday 16 September — 5 PM, Friday 22 September.

September 2024:
9 am, Saturday 14 September — 5 PM, Friday 20 September.

September 2025: (provisional dates)
9 am, Saturday 13 September — 5 PM, Friday 19 September.

 

Group Size.

Groups sizes are variable but seven is typical.

Topics Covered

     Who Were the Cathars?
     Cathar Beliefs
     Gnosticism and Early Christianity
     Historical Context - The High Middle Ages
     Sources
     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 days, 6 nights:

We start at 9am on Saturday, so recommend that participants arrive earlier and stay overnight in Toulouse. (We are happy to recommend hotels near the start point when you book)

Day 1 — Saturday — 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 — Sunday — 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 — Monday — 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 and warfare, Cistercians & crusading, fighting monks, and the Cistercian role in the foundation of the Knights Templar.

Day 4 — Tuesday — 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 — Wednesday — 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 — Thursday — Queribus & Puilaurens In the morning we drive into the Corbières and visit the historic boundary between Occitania and Aragon, later between France and Spain, now between the Aude and Catalonia. Before lunch we visit Queribus, the last "Cathar Castle" to fall to the French. After lunch at the nearby village of Cucugnan we visit the castle of Puilaurens, one of the "Five Sons of Carcassonne", and discuss the later history of so-called Cathar Castles.

Day 7 — Friday — Foix. In the morning we visit the spectacular 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. Along with Carcassonne this is the best surviving castle from the medieval period with strong Cathar connections. We will discuss the Counts of Foix, their role in the Cathar crusades, and the speech made by one of them at the Fourth Lateran Council, where he powerfully defended his actions before Pope Innocent III, at the greatest Church Council of the High Middle Ages. After lunch in Foix we return to Toulouse where we visit more historic sites before the tour ends.

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On the tour we stay at one hotel (usually in Quillan), the price of which is included in the cost of the tour for the nights of days 1,2,3,4,5 and 6.

For ease of travel the tour starts and finishes in Toulouse, which has good railway and autoroute links, and an international airport (Blagnac).

The tour starts on 9am on day 1 and ends in Toulouse at 5pm on on Day 7, so you might want to stay at an hotel in Toulouse on the nights of day 0 (before the tour) or day 7 (after the tour), or both. For hotels in Toulouse, we recommend the Privilège Hôtel Mermoz, centrally located, where the tour starts, and but there are other hotels nearby notably the Best Western Hotel Innès and the Hôtel Raymond IV. They all have websites in English where you can book online.

Privilège Hôtel Mermoz 50, rue Matabiau, 31000 Toulouse, France Tel: +33 5 61 63 04 04 reservationmermoz@privilegetoulouse.com https://privilegetoulouse.com/

Best Western Hotel Innès by HappyCulture 13Bis Rue Matabiau, 31000 Toulouse, France Tel: +33 5 61 63 10 63 bonjour@hotel-innes.com https://hotel-innes.com/

Hôtel Raymond IV, 16 Rue Raymond IV, 31000 Toulouse, France Tel : +33 5 61 62 89 41 contact@hotelraymond4toulouse.com https://hotelraymond4toulouse.com/eng/

 

Cost.

The current cost (per person) is 2,900 Euros

INCLUDED: tour transport, 6 lunches, 6 hotel nights (days 1 to 6), all entry fees.

EXCLUDED: Travel to and from the Languedoc; breakfasts, lunch on day 4, suppers. Hotel nights for days 0 and 6.

 

Other

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.

 
 



Our Tours

A selection of our tours and other services. Click on one of the boxes for more information

Scheduled One-Week Tours

Join one of our scheduled week-long tours which take place in May/June and September each year, including iconic sites such as Montsegur.

Private Tours for Individuals

Customised Tours for 1 person to 5 people: you get to chose how long the tour is, where you visit, and what topics you want to learn about.

Private Group Tours

Customised Tours for groups of 6 or more: you get to chose how long the tour is, where you visit, what topics you want to learn about, and where you stay.