Contact: info@ophorus.com / +33 (0) 556 152 609
Besieged & Beautiful in Languedoc
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Rating 0.00 (0 Votes)

Departure from Toulouse

From April to October included

Hours

Duration

1800
   
Total: 1800

Description

More than Nine hundred years ago, in the Languedoc Province of France, appeared a zealous Christian religious movement that denounced many basic tenets of the Catholic Church: The Cathars. Alarmed by their growing popularity, Pope Innocent III declared a crusade in 1208 to eradicate them. This lead powerful Barons, from northern France and Germany, to lay siege on Cathar strongholds, slaughtering the heretics and pillaging their lands with a savagery that was startling even by the standards of the Middle Ages.

Today, we at Ophorus have designed a unique and exclusive tour that incorporates what we consider to be the most significant landmarks linked to the ‘Albigensians’. In one of the most beautiful provinces of France, follow your expert guide as you visit ‘head-spinning Citadels’ that are superbly positioned on mountain peaks, discover the role played by Saint Dominic and his Dominican order, learn about the Inquisition specifically created in the 12th century to combat the Cathars, stroll through intact medieval villages that have retained their 13th century architectural wonders or awe at the formidable Cathedrals and churches built only to demonstrate the power of the Roman Catholic Church.
Finally, throughout your tour, you will experience one of the most fascinating regions of France. Lively cities, dramatic landscapes, natural wonders, fabulous food and wines are just some of the features that will be for you to enjoy every single day.

ITINERARY

Day 1 ARRIVAL TRANSFER IN TOULOUSE - PRIVATE
Arrival in Toulouse and private transfer from train station or airport. Check in at your hotel and night in Toulouse.

Day 2 CATHAR GUIDED WALKING TOUR OF TOULOUSE / VILLAGES OF THE VERE VALLEY - PRIVATE
Breakfast at your hotel.
This morning follow your guide on a private guided walking tour of Toulouse. The city, capital of the Counts of Toulouse, still retains some important sites and monuments linked with the Cathar period. Visit the Jacobins church, built by the Order of Preachers – future Dominicans – an exceptional example of Southern Gothic architecture; it was built to promote the preaching of the Gospels and fight against the Cathar heresy. You will visit the Maison Seilhan where the Dominican order was founded by Dominic de Guzman in 1215. In 1233, the building became the headquarters of the Inquisition and this until 1648! Your guide will certainly relate the story and founding of this religious tribunal created to stop the heresy from spreading. Finally, discover the archeological remains of the Counts Castle of Toulouse known as ‘Chateau Narbonnais’. After the walking tour, enjoy some free time for lunch and personal discovery. In the afternoon, you tour will head towards the Vezere valley where small, quaint hilltop villages await. Visit the village of Penne where one of the most impressive Cathar castles is being restored. Taken by Simon de Montfort in 1223, the Castle was reconquered by the Heretics in 1229. The tour then moves on to Puycelsi. This little village, sold to Raymond V in 1180, resisted by two times the attacks of the Crusade in 1211 and 1213. Because of this feat, the castle was dismantled when the Treaty of Paris (Meaux) was signed in 1229. After the visit, return to Toulouse and night at your hotel.

Day 3 ALBI GUIDED WALKING TOUR / CORDES SUR CIEL / LAVAUR - PRIVATE
Breakfast at your hotel.
In the morning depart for Albi, the city that gave its name to the ‘Albigensian’ Crusade. The Cathars became known as the Albigensians as this religious sect gained many adherents in the city of Albi and surrounding area in the twelfth and thirteenth century. Here you will visit the Cathedral of Albi one of the most outstanding examples of Southern Gothic architecture. It is the largest brick built cathedral in the world measuring 113 meters long and 35 meters wide. The monument is a testament to the power of the Roman Catholic Church following the successful suppression of the Cathar heretics. After your tour, head towards the small village of Cordes sur Ciel. Created in 1222 by the Count of Toulouse Raymond VII, this Bastide village replaced the one of Saint Marcel that had been run down by the forces of Simon de Montfort. Here, enjoy a guided walking tour and plunge back into 13th century life as you admire some of the magnificent Gothic houses that still remain. After some free time for personal discovery, end your day with a stop in Lavaur. In the 12th century the city becomes a Cathar stronghold. This will lead to the city being under siege in 1181 and again in 1211 by the army of Simon de Monfort. Here, Lady Guiraude de Laurac, lord of Lavaur, is thrown alive in a well and 400 Cathars perish in the flames of the largest stake of the Crusade. After the visit, return to Toulouse and night in Toulouse.

DAY 4 MONTSEGUR CATHAR SITE / MIREPOIX / CARCASSONNE - PRIVATE
Breakfast at your hotel.
This morning, head towards what is certainly one of the highlights of this tour: the site of Montségur! Dominating a rock formation known locally as a Pog, the original Cathar castle of Montsegur became the “seat and head” of the Cathar church in 1233. In May 1242, it is the murder at Avignonet of representatives of the inquisition by about fifty men from Montsegur that triggered the final military expedition to conquer the castle. After a siege that lasted 9 months, the castle finally fell to the hands of the French Royal army on the 1st of March 1244. On the 16th, more than 200 Cathars who would renounce their faith were burnt to the stake. After a short climb, reach the site where the Cathar castle once stood and follow your guide on an explanatory tour. Then, depart for the Bastide of Mirepoix. The town has been strongly linked with the Cathar period as in 1206 more than 600 Cathar preachers gathered for a council. The town also possessed many ‘communal houses’ that were held by Cathar clerics. During the Crusade, Simon de Montfort overruns the town and strips the local lord of all his rights. After a visit of this unique Bastide you will enjoy a lunch of local specialties in a carefully selected restaurant. Then reach Carcassonne and check in to your hotel. Night in Carcassonne.

Day 5 CARCASSONNE GUIDED WALKING TOUR / MINERVE VILLAGE / LASTOURS CASTLES - PRIVATE
Breakfast at your hotel.
This morning depart on a guided walking tour for the medieval Cité of Carcassonne. Originally built by the Romans, the fortress became famous for its role during the Albigensian Crusade, as a stronghold of Occitan Cathars. In August 1209, the host, led by Simon de Montfort, forced its citizens to surrender. Raymond-Roger de Trencavel, viscount of Carcassonne, was imprisoned whilst negotiating his city's surrender and died in mysterious circumstances three months later in his own dungeon. Simon De Montfort was then appointed the new viscount. During your guided tour, discover the Counts castle, the curtain wall and some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in the Basilica of Saint Nazari. After some free time for personal discovery and lunch, depart for the small village of Minerve. In 1210, the town is surrounded by the forces of Simon de Montfort who, using Trebuchets and Catapults, denies all access to water and food to the population. The assailants leave no choice to the Cathars but to convert themselves. The later renounce and 140 of them are burnt to the stake. Finally, end the day with the visit of the Lastours castles. The four castles are located on a rocky spur above the village of Lastours, isolated by the deep valleys of the Orbeil and Grésilhou rivers. Centre of Cathar religious activity during the 13th century, the castle village sheltered numerous 'Perfects' homes as well as Bishops. In 1229, the fortress launched the Cathar resistance in the Languedoc. After the visit of this unique site, return to Carcassonne and night at your hotel.

Day 6 LAGRASSE VILLAGE / CATHAR CITADELS OF QUERIBUS & PUILAURENS - PRIVATE
Breakfast at your hotel.
Today your tour is dedicated to the discovery of what is known as ‘Cathar Country’. Begin the day with the small village of Lagrasse famous for its Benedictine Abbey that dates from the end of the 8th century. The political power of the Abbey was essentially revealed during the Crusade against the Albigensians: Benoît d'Aligan, Abbot of Lagrasse from 1224 to 1230, was often a mediator between the occupying and the occupied forces. It was he who finally obtained Carcassonne's submission to the king of France in 1226. After the visit of the village, head towards the ruins of Queribus. The castle was regarded as the last Cathar stronghold. After the fall of Montségur in 1244, surviving Cathars gathered together in another mountain-top stronghold on the border of Aragon. In May 1255, Chabert de Barbaira surrenders to Olivier de Termes, in exchange of liberty. After the visit of the castle, you will enjoy a lunch in a local restaurant and then move on to visit the Castle of Puilaurens. The citadel is famous for having been a safe haven for many Cathar clerics during the Crusade. In 1241, the Cathar prefect, Pierre Paraire stays in Puilaurens. The fortress never fell in the hands of Simon de Montfort. After the visit of the castle, return to Carcassonne and night at your hotel.

Day 7 TRANSFER TO TOULOUSE -

More than Nine hundred years ago, in the Languedoc Province of France, appeared a zealous Christian religious movement that denounced many basic tenets of the Catholic Church: The Cathars. Alarmed by their growing popularity, Pope Innocent III declared a crusade in 1208 to eradicate them. This lead powerful Barons, from northern France and Germany, to lay siege on Cathar strongholds, slaughtering the heretics and pillaging their lands with a savagery that was startling even by the standards of the Middle Ages.

Today, we at Ophorus have designed a unique and exclusive tour that incorporates what we consider to be the most significant landmarks linked to the ‘Albigensians’. In one of the most beautiful provinces of France, follow your expert guide as you visit ‘head-spinning Citadels’ that are superbly positioned on mountain peaks, discover the role played by Saint Dominic and his Dominican order, learn about the Inquisition specifically created in the 12th century to combat the Cathars, stroll through intact medieval villages that have retained their 13th century architectural wonders or awe at the formidable Cathedrals and churches built only to demonstrate the power of the Roman Catholic Church.
Finally, throughout your tour, you will experience one of the most fascinating regions of France. Lively cities, dramatic landscapes, natural wonders, fabulous food and wines are just some of the features that will be for you to enjoy every single day.

Inclusions / Exclusions

Inclusions

1. Arrival/departure transfers in Toulouse
2. Accommodation in 4* hotel, double room sharing in Toulouse & Carcassonne
3. Breakfast from day 2 to 7
4. English speaking driver guide
5. Private guided walking tour of Toulouse, Albi and Carcassonne
6. Visit of Cordes, Lavaur, Mirepoix, Minerve and Lagrasse villages
7. Visit of Montsegur, Lastours, Queribus and Puilaurens Cathar citadels
8. Travel in recent, comfortable and fully equipped compact vans
9. Bottled water in the minivan
10. Free Wifi access on board

Exclusions

1. Meals and drinks unless mentioned in program
2. Personal insurance and expenses
3. Entrance fees to monuments, museums, attractions other than mentioned in the program
4. Gratuities for the driver/guide

Meeting point

Hotel pick up

Pick up information

Hotel pick up


Return at your hotel

Additional information

Additional information

- Tour is for 6 passengers maximum per vehicle
- Tour is operated in English unless otherwise stated
- This tour is not wheelchair accessible


Price information

- Program and Prices are listed as a guide only
- Prices are per person
- Currency is in Euro

- Price base 2 persons: 3080€ per person
- Price base 4 persons: 2120€ per person
- Price base 6 persons: 1800€ per person
- Single supplement: 570€


Possible languages: English