Beyond Provence in southern France are the regions of Languedoc and Midi Pyrénées, home to Cathar Country. Cycle secret trails in the heart of this sun-blessed region to find the imposing, mystic stone castles of the Cathars.
The Cathars were a heretical set that existed in the Middle Ages. They were destroyed by a violent crusade authorised by the Pope and the tangible remains of this struggle are the dramatically sited castles built by the Cathars throughout the Languedoc region. The mystery still exists that the Cathars held the Holy Grail and smuggled it from Montsegur before the end of the siege there.
This cycling holiday combines historical interest with landscapes of immense natural beauty - lush, rolling hills, green valleys and a dramatic mountain backdrop. Every day is different and the vegetation - the ‘garrigue’ - is fragrant and often full of colour. You will also discover wonderful local food, robust Languedoc wines and a part of the Pyrenees that has a strong Mediterranean influence.
Day 1 Limoux 25 km
After checking into your hotel, stroll around the historic town of Limoux, home to the oldest sparkling wine in the world - Le Blanquette de Limoux. The itinerary starts with a ride from Limoux to the Saint-Hilaire abbey.
Day 2 Limoux to Mirepoix 48 km
An energetic ride today leads to the ancient 13th century village of Chalabre and the fortified town of Camon. Continue to Lagarde where the ruins of the castle are visible. Arrive in medieval Mirepoix with its famous archways from the 13th century.
Day 3 Mirepoix to Foix 50 km
Cycle past a string of unusual villages all huddled around their church towers. The Rupestrian church at Vals is a unique site on three levels. Arrive Foix, a town dominated by its castle perched on a rocky ledge.
Day 4 Fox to Montsegur 35 km
Today you cycle the chalky terrain of the Massif du Plantaurel to ascend to Montsegur via the castle at Roquefixade with its fantastic viewpoint. Finally you tackle the steep climb up Montsegur hill to the village at the foot of the famous Pog topped by castle ruins.
Day 5 Montsegur to Puivert 46 km
Descend from Montsegur towards Belesta via a route in Pays de Sault to reach the mountain village of Espezel from where you cycle down to the Puivert and its famous castle.
Day 6 Puivert to Limoux 43 km
Cycle amongst remote villages far from the tourist trail discovering the Cathar countryside and meeting the local people.
Day 7 Arrangements end after breakfast in Limoux.
Tour concludes after breakfast.
Moderate to energetic: 4 – 6 hours of cycling per day between 35 – 50 kms but not technically difficult.