Lands of the Cathars

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Languedoc, where legends of long ago whisper down the centuries & stories of mysterious treasure endure

Languedoc, particularly the Aude, is known as Pays Cathares. Ruined castles stand on rocky outcrops, testament to past conflicts, the fairytale Cité de Carcassonne is visited by thousands, the winding cobbled streets offering a poignant insight into what life must have been like, lived among the ramparts, besieged by Crusaders. Few visitors learn more of the region’s violent history that echoes through time in this beautiful region in southern France. Nick’s after dinner talks can help you appreciate the stories behind the ruins, understand the Albigensian Crusade and how the 13th century was pivotal in the history and life of Languedoc, the repercussions for France and for contemporary Europe.

Many famous and magnificent Cathar sites are close by; Montsegur, 30kms, where 250 Cathar perfects walked into the fire rather than renounce their faith, is especially poignant. Puivert Chateau, 11kms, is the most accessible, there is a museum in the village and “wild swimming” in the lake is a treat; Chateau de Foix rises from the town like a medieval phoenix; and the clamber up to the impregnable fortress of Peyrepertuse in the high Corbiere hills is an adventure for everyone of reasonable mobility.

La Cité  hosts a cultural extravaganza every June – August.