Cathar Country

Gites de Montcabirol is situated in the heart of Cathar country. You can visit a variety of fascinating sites, steeped in history, all within easy reach.

But first, a bit of history...

The Cathars were followers of a church that flourished across Europe during the early medieval period, but the name Cathar is now most strongly associated with the Occitanie region. Catharism means purity and its followers believed in values such as equality and charity. They rejected the pomp of the Catholic church, leading to them being branded as heretics by the Pope. He launched a crusade which turned into a full-scale battle.

The castles, which had become sanctuaries for the Cathars were seized by the King, and the Cathars were forced to flee. They faced either renouncing their faith or being burnt at the stake. It is estimated that half a million deaths were caused.

In 2016, following the merging of the Languedoc and Midi-Pyrenees regions, the people voted to revive the name "Occitanie" as the name of the new region.

Today you can find medieval castles, villages, and Romanesque abbeys related to the Cathars which survive from the conflict. There are numerous sites, with those below representing some of the more well-known. If you want to explore further, we have provided links to other websites below.

Montségur

In the heart of the French Pyrenees, nestled amidst rugged peaks and verdant valleys, lies the enigmatic Château de Montségur, a fortress steeped in history and shrouded in mystery. Perched atop a rocky pinnacle at an altitude of 1,200 meters, this imposing landmark stands as a poignant testament to the Cathar faith and the tumultuous events that unfolded during the Middle Ages.

Château de Montségur stands as a haunting reminder of a bygone era, its ruins whispering tales of resilience, faith, and tragedy. Visitors can embark on a guided tour to explore the castle's remnants, traversing winding paths and ascending steep staircases to reach panoramic viewpoints that offer breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding countryside.

Afterward visit Montsegur, a small village with its castle ruins set high on a rocky hilltop behind the village. 

Puivert

The Château de Puivert is a Cathar castle on top of a hill overlooking the village and its lake. The castle has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1902. The castle of Puivert is still in relatively good condition. It is privately owned, but open to the public and undergoing restoration

Château de Roquefixade

The Château de Roquefixade is a ruined Cathar castle built on a cliff overlooking the picturesque village of Roquefixade. There are records of a castle on the site going back to 1180, though the present ruins are more recent. A castle on this site provided refuge for Cathars at the time of the Cathar wars.

Built on a cliff overlooking the village of Roquefixade the Château has been listed since 1995 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture. It is open to the public and the views from the top are well worth the climb up to the ruins and will be rewarded with views that include the Ariege mountains, the Pyrenees, Montsegur, Les Corbieres, and Le Lauragais.

The walk is well signposted. This walk from Roquefixade village square to Chateau de Roquefixade should take about 25 minutes.

Start from Roquefixade village square. Walk up a well maintained gravel track. From the track you will reach a grass verge on the right. Walk up the steps. Continue on the path through trees and scrub. The Chateau should always be on your right.  You will reach the ruins of the outside walls. Walk through these walls and follow the small path that leads you to the Chateau. Care should be taken on this path as it can be slippery.

Once inside the Chateau you can explore the ruins and see fantastic panoramic views.

There are 12 walks of varying lengths around the chateau, for more details click here.

For a longer walk (about 4 hours) click here.

Chateau de Queribus and Chateau de Peyrepertuse

Two chateaus that require a little stamina to reach; Chateau de Queribus is a 14th-century tower perched on a craggy outcrop with panoramic views from its gorgeous terrace and Chateau de Peyrepertuse is a ruined fortress that sits on a ridge 800m high.

Carcassonne

A World Heritage site, it is the largest surviving medieval walled city in Europe. Located on the right bank of the Aude the Cité has 52 towers and 2 concentric enclosures which total 3km of ramparts. You can find more about the city on our website here.

Foix

Closer to Gites de Montcabirol you will find Foix. The medieval Counts of Foix 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. Learn more about the town and what there is to see and do here.

Useful links:

In English
https://www.catharcastles.info
https://www.audetourisme.com/en/

En francais
https://www.payscathare.org
https://www.audetourisme.com/fr

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Highlights
  • Four beautiful gîtes set in stunning countryside minutes from Mirepoix
  • Great location for cycling, hiking, water sports, fishing and climbing
  • Flexible changeovers all year-round
  • Paris Olympics: Fri, Jul 26 – Sun, Aug 11, 2024
Guest Comments

A beautiful secluded location offering a calm and relaxing holiday away from the stresses of everyday life. The Gites are stunning with all mod cons. Owners Katie and Rich are extremely helpful and go ...

Kat and Freddie Mills
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