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 literally 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.

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.

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.

Just a short drive away is the iconic Castle of Montségur where over 200 Cathars were burned alive in 1244 after a ten month siege. You will find a small village with its castle ruins set high on a rocky hilltop behind the village. The climb is also rewarded by some spectacular views.

The Château de Puivert is a Cathar castle on top 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 ruins of Château de Roquefixade originally went back to 1180 and provided refuge for Cathars at the time of the Cathar wars. Those we see today are more recent than the original.

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.

Useful links:

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