Cathare Country and its major sites : from Carcassonne to Foix
Between the Mediterranean Sea and the Ariège region, in the heart of the Pyrenean Piedmont, impressive stone citadels are standing : the Cathar Castles. Those fortresses remain the living memory of a tragical history that marked the South-West of France during the crusade against the Albigenses. Starting from Carcassonne and its famous medieval old town, you will go and discover the most famous sites and castles of the Cathar History. Firstly in the Aude region, you will have the opportunity to visit the Quéribus eyrie, the incredible fortress of Peyrepertuse, Puilaurens the archetypal bastion and finally Puivert, the home of troubadours. In Ariège, you will explore Montségur castle, the highest of the Cathar Castles, standing on its rock at 1207m of altitude. Then, before reaching Foix and its castle, you will visit the closest neighbour to Montségur, Roquefixade, perched on the top of an impressive cliff. Beyond the discovery of a territory and its rich and overwhelming history, this Cathar Country is full of stunning and varied landscapes, influenced by the Mediterranean and Mountain Climates that are merging here, but also by the Nature that dig gorges in limestone, carved rocky spurs and has always allowed mankind to use those natural resources.
Every day, from the beginning of April to the end of October (depending on availabilities).
Booking from 2 people (solo travelers : please contact us).
Price : From 01/04/2023 to 30/10/2023
Price per person for a group of 2 persons
Price per person for a group of 3 persons
Price per person for a group of 4 persons
Price per person for a group of 5 persons
Price per person for a group of 6 persons
- Single room extra : 175€/pers
- Extra 4 picnics: 45€/pers
- Transfer back from Foix to Carcassonne on a week day: 215€/tranfer
- Transfer back from Foix to Carcassonne on a Sunday or Public Holiday: 250€/tranfer
- Extra night in Carcassonne Bed & Breakfast double room : 50€/pers
- Extra night in Carcassonne Bed & Breakfast single room : 85€/pers
- Extra night in Foix Bed & Breakfast double room : 55€/pers
- Extra night in Foix Bed & Breakfast single room : 80€/pers
- Half-board accommodation except on days 1 and 6
- Luggage transfers
- Transfers on Day 2, 4 and 6
- Dossier containing maps, route notes (1 for 4 persons, given in 1st accommodation)
- GPS tracks if you ask us + access to the detailed itinerary on the Mhikes GPS mobile application
- Travel insurance
- Dinners on Day 1 and Day 6
- Additional transfers
- Visits and entrance tickets to the castles
- Drinks and picnics
- Booking fees : 15€
Day 1 : Beginning of the holiday in Carcassonne
Day 2 : From Carcassonne to Quéribus Castle
In the morning, you will discover the famous medieval town of Carcassonne. Later in the morning, transfer to the Quéribus Castle, « The Vertiginous Citadel ». Like an eyrie built on a rocky outcrop, this was the last stronghold of the Cathar resistance during the crusade against the Albigenses in 1255. Perched at 788m of altitude on the donjon's High Terrace, astonishing landscapes will meet your eyes, from the Canigou summit to the Roussillon and Corbières plains. By a short hike through the Corbières vineyards, the fragrant scrubland and the very beautiful village of Cucugnan, you will then reach Duilhac sous Peyrepertuse. Distance : 10km, duration : around 3h, ascent : +270m, descent : -505m.
Day 3 : From Duilhac sous Peyrepertuse to Cubières sur Cinoble
Picturesque itinerary with the visit of the Peyrepertuse fortress : the Castle is standing at 800m of altitude on a limestone ridge. This is one of the most beautiful examples of Cathar fortresses, which is also part of the old line of defence of the « five Carcassonne sons ». You will then cross the Galamus Gorges, an impressive canyon and outsanding natural setting. The Agly river, « eagles' river », dig the rock from waterfall to waterfall, and a road built in 1884 now hangs on the cliff. During the hike, you will also have a stop to visit the Galamus Hermitage : this is a humble house and a sanctuary set in a cave, surrounded by box trees and evergreen oaks - an exceptional natural site. Distance : 18,5km, duration : around 6h30, ascent : +780m, descent : -700m
Day 4 : From Caudies de Fenouillèdes to Puilaurens Castle
In the morning, transfer from Cubières to Caudies de Fenouillèdes. You will then hike towards the superb Puilaurens castle, perched on a rocky spur at 697m of altitude, in the heart of a coniferous forest . Before reaching it, you will walk through the St Jaumes and Aigues Bonnes gorges. From the bottom of the gorge, the path carved in the rock leads to the Saint Pierre and Castel Sabarda castles. Transfer to your accomodation in Quillan at the end of the day. Distance : 14,5km, duration : around 5h, ascent : +680m ; descent : -570m
Day 5 : From Quillan to Puivert
Starting from Quillan, you will discover with this itinerary the transition from the Mediterranean influence to the Pyrenean influence. From small valleys to hills, the impressive Puivert fortress will appear to you - a 12th century feudal castle and a former meeting place for the most famous troubadours. The village of Puivert is also very interesting, with its remnants from the past and its Quercorb Museum that thoroughly reports and evokes the life in the Quercorb region at the end of the last century. Possibility to shorten this section with a taxi transfer from Quillan to Ginoles. Distance : 20km, duration : around 6h30, ascent : +720m, descent : -530m.
Day 6 : From Montségur to Foix
In the morning, transfer from Puivert to Montségur. A 1-hour visit of the Montségur castle that symbolizes the resistance of the Cathar Church against the Church of Rome, but also against the King of France and the overlords of the North searching for the rich lands of the South : they took possession of the place after the surrender and stake in 1244. After the visit of the castle, transfer from Montségur to Roquefixade and hike until Foix through a beautiful panoramic itinerary. Distance : 17km, duration : around 6h, ascent : +540m, descent : -875m.
Day 7 : Visit of Foix and its castle, end of the holiday
Your trip ends in Foix. Possibility to visit the old town center and its narrow streets filled with History, and the castle perched on its rock. Its has been greatly revamped after a 2-year-long work!
This program is an example of the itinerary we aim to adhere to. It may be necessary, if situations arise that are beyond our control, for the itinerary to be modified.
Day 1 at your accommodation in Carcassonne (11), depending to your arrival time.
Day 7 in Foix (09), after your breakfast.
Occasional walker, in good physical condition. Hiking 5h-6h per day on average, altitude difference 400m-700m on average, on easy paths and tracks. They are average times that only take into account the effective walking time and do not include the stops during the hike. Depending on the weather conditions, the walking pace can also vary, ranging from +300m to +500m of climbing per hour.
Half-board except Day 1 and Day 6 (night and breakfast)
3 nights in hotels in room on Days 1, 4 and 6
2 nights in a guesthouse in room on Day 2 and 3
1 night in gite in room on Day 5
- Continental breakfast (tea, coffee, milk, bread, butter, jam)
- Evening meals are often based on local specialties and include a starter, a main course and a dessert. For dinners on Day 1 and Day 6, restaurants on spot.
- Picnics are not included. Possibility to buy one on spot.
- Drinks are not include
You will need to carry a day backpack only. Our bag-moving service means you can travel light during your walks. Your main luggage (that should please be easily transportable) will be transported by vehicle between the different night stops, unless you have chosen the version without luggage transport.
Self-guided hike, without a guide.