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3
moderate

Traveller Rating

 

Activities
  • self guided walk
Accommodation
  • 5 nights in a combination of 2-3 star hotels, B&Bs, gites/guesthouses
  • 1 night hostel-gite
Meals
  • 5 Dinners
  • 6 Breakfasts

7 Days£1130GBP

Overview

Trip Code: MCC

Trip highlights


  • Walking along ancient trails in the stunning Corbières region
  • Exploring the ruins of Cathar castles and delving into the historical intrigue of the sect
  • Experiencing interesting villages and towns en route
  • Enjoying excellent local cuisine and the warm hospitality of the guesthouses

On the border of the Corbières region, where the Pyrenean mountain chain begins, lies a network of secret trails that lead to the mysterious Cathar castles. From the 12th to 13th centuries, Catharism was entrenched in the region, a sect that shunned conventional Christianity and materialism. The Cathar Crusade against the people of Languedoc in southern France lasted for more than forty years and effectively ended the Cathar reign. Whilst many of the castles have since been destroyed or built over, a few good examples remain including the castle at Puivert, Chateau de Troubadours. This walk follows ancient trails through forests, vineyards and orchards to the medieval castles. The stunning scenery and interesting villages make this a richly rewarding experience for walkers and history buffs alike.

Countries:

France

Starting Point:

Perpignan

Finishing Point:

Foix


This morning at 10:30am you will be met at the SNCF train station in Perpignan and transferred to Grau de Maury at the foot of the Château de Quéribus, a well preserved border castle with terrific views towards the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees. After spending some time exploring the castle you begin hiking to Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse through oak forest and the hill top village of Cucugnac with its restored windmill which grinds flour for the local bakery. Distance: 10km/6.2mi, ascend: +300m/984ft, descend: -500m/1640ft

Meals:  D

The day begins with a steep climb to the magnificent Château Peyrepertuse, where the ruins are extensive, giving you a different angle on Quéribus. It is an amazing building, almost indistinguishable from the surrounding crags at first glance. The route descends from the castle through the soft-leaved scrubland and finally reaches the deep and spectacular Galamus gorges. There is a subterranean hermitage and some riverside pools that would make for a refreshing dip on a hot day. You walk through the gorge, and at its end there is a 6pm transfer to the small and pretty hamlet of Camps-sur-l'Agly, below the Pic de Bugarach. Distance: 19km/11.8mi, ascend: +550m/1840ft, descend: -550m/1804ft

Meals:  B,D

Today you make your way via the Corbieres ridges and a gorgeous day unfolds, walking steeply up through the forests and over a high pass called Col de Pechines (915m) with its panoramic view of the Pyrenees. A very steep winding descent on the GR, which is harder than the average for this trip, brings you off the massif and down to the village of Caudies de Fenouilledes. The second half of the walk is relatively flat until a final steep ascent takes you to the next castle at Puilaurens. You can explore on your own or there is the option for a guided tour to learn about Catharism (book and pay locally). After your castle visit, an evening transfer will take you to the old hat making town of Quillan, where you stay overnight. Distance: 18.2km/11.3mi, ascend: +700m/2297ft, descend: -800m/2625ft

Meals:  B,D

The route today takes you from Quillan through farmland, ascending the Col de Brénac and through the village of Brénac where Petrus Amelius, a key religious figure in the 14th Century was born. After a second pass you arrive at the village of Nébias which sits on the Atlantic-Mediterranean Drainage divide, the so-called ‘Partage des Eaux’ that divides the village. It is symbolized by a fountain. The area is under three different climatic influences: Mediterranean, oceanic and alpine. From here there is the option to extend the walk a couple of hours along a nature trail called the 'Labyrinthe Vert,' a wild area of mossy woods amidst limestone pavements. The trail continues from Nébias and up again onto a woody ridge leading to Puivert Castle, well known as the Troubadour castle. It was here that the 12th century poet-musicians sang the praises of new values and ideas to the villagers. Staying in the pretty village of Puivert you should have time to visit the museum which has contemporary recordings of the songs once sung at the castle. For thirsty walkers there is also a microbrewery. Accommodation requires that you being a sleep sheet. Pillows and blankets are provided. Distance: 16-21km/9.9-13mi, ascend: +610m/2001ft, descend -100m/328ft

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast transfer to Montségur, originally thought to have been a planned village built for those constructing the castle. There is a small museum here and a traditional bakery. There's an optional short steep climb where you can visit the castle (fortress) which acted as the last stronghold of the Cathars. The existing castle is a later construction, but around the back are the remains of the Cathar dwellings and you get a good impression of the original site, with impressive views towards the Pyrenees. On the lower slopes is a memorial, normally covered in flowers, to the 225 Cathars who were burnt to death here in 1244. The walk continues into the pretty village of Montferrier before you ascend again through the Mondini forest and traverse to the charming village of Roquefixade via a scenic ridge. Distance: 19km/11.8mi, ascend: +650m/2133ft, descend: -900m/2953ft

Meals:  B,D

Today begins with a beautiful ridge hike to Château de Roquefixade. This was an important Cathar refuge but once again the present-day ruins are much more modern. Continue to the beautiful township of Foix. Its imposing castle is the best preserved Château on the route due to its more or less continuous occupation from Cathar times. It was once owned by the Counts of Foix, but they eventually gave up their Cathar faith and submitted to the French Crown. Distance: 18.5km/11.5mi, ascend: +500m/1640ft, descend: -800m/2625ft

Meals:  B

The trip concludes after breakfast. We recommend taking some time to visit the Foix castle before departing Foix. We can assist with a transfer to return to Perpignan if required - supplement applies, please ask for our rates.

Meals:  B


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


Inclusions

  • 6 breakfasts, 5 dinners - Continental breakfasts are served and usually consist of breads, jams, cheese, occasionally eggs and meats, coffee, tea and juices. Dinner will consist of 2 to 3 courses which include regional specialties
  • 6 nights accommodation is included: 5 nights on a twin share basis in a combination of small family run hotels, B&Bs and gites/guesthouses, some nights with private facilities and some with share facilities, and 1 night in a gite-hostel in a small dormitory with shared facilities. Required to bring a sleep sheet. Single rooms are available on two nights only (days 1 & 6), other nights are in small multishare dormitories (a supplement applies for single travellers).
  • Luggage transfer - limited to one bag weighing a maximum of 20kg per person.
  • Any excess luggage should be stored at your pre-tour hotel, or we can arrange for its transfer from Perpignan to Foix - supplement applies (note you will not have access to this luggage during the trip).
  • All internal transfers described in the program
  • Digital information pack including GPX tracks
  • Emergency hotline

  • Travel to Perpignan and from Foix
  • Meals not listed as included, drinks
  • Travel insurance - mandatory
  • Guide – this is a self-guided walking holiday
  • A supplement will apply if you are travelling solo or book a single room
  • Entrance fees not listed as included
  • Optional transfer Foix to Perpignan
  • Transfers by taxi or public transport if you need to skip a stage
  • Excess luggage
  • Hotel taxes if applicable – payable directly to the hotel
  • Items of a personal nature

Suitability

moderate

3

MODERATE – GRADE 3 This is a self guided walk with average daily stages of around 5-6 hours (not including rests or visits to the castles enroute). The trip is graded moderate as the paths are well defined and generally clearly marked. There are many ups and downs as you would expect in a mountainous region, and walking poles are definitely a good idea. A good level of fitness is required and the trip is considered suitable for experienced walkers only. Map reading skills are essential and you will need to use a compass at times in order to check the path. As with all of our trips it is important that you are well prepared. We suggest that you undertake regular exercise – swimming, cycling, and jogging, two to three times a week for three months prior to your departure.


Departure dates

Daily from 1 Apr to 20 Oct

Priceper person from

£1130GBP

Options & Supplements*
  • Excess luggage (1 bag, max 20kg)GBP£60
  • Single Supplement (single rooms available 2 nights only)GBP£90
*Prices listed are per person

Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Personal Experience

We've been walking and cycling the planet for over four decades and are passionate about delivering exceptional service. Combined, we’ve travelled to virtually every corner of Europe, and are eager to share the many benefits of travelling on foot or by bike.

Great Value & Quality

Our well priced trips offer great value for money. Included in your package are comprehensive route notes, maps & guide books along with bag transfers and locally run accommodation. We take the stress out of organising your holiday.

Self-Guided Specialists

We have been operating active self guided holidays since 1973. We handle all the necessary logistics so that you can relax and explore your destination at your own pace. Many of our tours depart daily, giving you even greater flexibility.

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