Our5 essentials

On a par with a time machine

Start your pedestrian route through the impressive medieval town. A word of advice, leave the main road and do not delay in losing your way within the small adjoining alleyways. Amongst the buildings to visit is the Château Comtal. Located in the heart of the town, this imposing building houses a superb Lapidary Museum (covering engraving, cutting and polishing of stones and gems), a magnificent basilica and winding ramparts that you will take delight in climbing. From the top, the rampart walk offers you a splendid view over the surrounding area.

Continue your trip in Carcassonne with a little stroll in the lower town (also called Bastide Saint Louis) to contemplate the Canal du Midi. Have a gourmet stop at the truffle shop to enjoy a multitude of products concocted from the region’s so called black gold. If you prefer authentic markets, go to the Place Carnot to get a good dose of the area’s specialities, such as foie gras (goose liver pâté) or confit d’oie (goose confit) As the sun goes down, head for the Porte d’Aude gateway where a particularly exceptional panorama awaits you, especially at dusk.

Attacking the citadels

Nicknamed the “vertigo citadels” owing to their site on the mountainside, go out and explore the most beautiful châteaux in Languedoc. Start your medieval trip with the Château de Quéribus ruined castle. The climb up to the ramparts is slightly abrupt but, that having been said, entirely feasible. Remember to take an audio-guide; it is the best way to understand everything about this majestic château including the keep which sits at 728 metres high. Nestling at the summit of a rocky spur, it offers tourists a spectacular view over the Roussillon plains!

Continue on your way via Peyrepertuse. From the top of its rocky promontory, the château contains a majestic royal fortress, a theatre for a multitude of medieval shows. The 300 metres of walls, which now surround the former walls, overlook the Les Corbières valley, and offer you an amazing view over the environs. Reaching its highest point at 800 metres, it will take you around 20 minutes to walk up a slope, to access the citadel from the car park.

Thanks to a little explanatory booklet, handed to you at the entrance, discover the comprehensive History of the Château de Termes. The citadel itself is in ruins but that does nothing to spoil the delight of discovering this unique heritage. If you stay a while in Cathar Country, do not miss the other châteaux which are all just as splendid: Saissac and its panoramic view over the Pyrenees mountain range, Aiguilar and its surrounding vineyards, Arquès and its majestic keep, which is 25 metres high, and much more besides…

Awaken the senses

Make the most of your holidays in Cathar Country to take the so called “Cassoulet Route” heading for Castelnaudary, the global capital of this must-see dish. This gourmet tour of 180 kilometres links farms (producers of beans, ducks, pigs and other such produce…) but also wine cellars and pottery workshops, and at dinner time restaurant owners offer a menu including produce from the local area with, of course, the famous cassoulet. Activities around gastronomy are even offered throughout the entire year.

To be a success, cassoulet should be prepared in a large clay dish known in French as a cassole. It is made of lingot beans, a little duck and a lot of pork, particularly from Toulouse sausage. The entirety is cooked for several hours in a vegetable stock which is prepared in-house. If you are looking for a good place to find this, the Auberge de Dame Carcas in Carcassonne offers a cassoulet with a duck confit cooked over a wood fire...A delight!


Taken by an experienced guide, this 14 km route in the Gorges de l’Aude has a multitude of turbulent rapids. Allow 2 hours 30 minutes for an emotionally-charged descent in the heart of Cathar Country. So as to reassure those most anxious these inflatables, able to accommodate up to 8 people, are extremely stable and strong.

All equipment is provided for the descent: wetsuits, life jackets, neoprene socks, helmets and paddles…Remember to bring your swimwear and a pair of trainers. This is the essential spot for your white-water activities!

Mountain biking

Leaving from Carcassonne, cycle along this mythical towpath, well known by cyclists for its ease of access. Sheltered from the sunshine under the plane trees and cypress parasol trees, cover in several days the distance of 140 km which separates you from the seaside. The tranquillity of the journey will provide even more character to the stunning scenery.

On your way you will certainly cross the navigable Orbiel aqueduct but also the curious Malpas tunnel. This impressive engineering structure, hollowed into the rock, is well worth a photo opportunity! Before reaching the town centre of Béziers, complete the stage which passes in front of the 9 Fonseranes locks. There is no need for the latest bike to complete this journey, but do not forget to carry with you the necessary equipment in the event of a puncture.

The small +

What is Cassoulet?

According to word of mouth and the old manuscript accounts, the first cassoulet dates back to medieval times. Legend has it that during the Hundred Years’ War, the villagers from Castelnaudary may have pooled their last scraps of food supplies to feed the soldiers: pork, bacon, sausage, meats and broad beans were simmered in a large dish for hours on end. And wham! The cassoulet was born!

Cathar Country it’s:

13exceptional medieval châteaux
200kilometresof GR approved hiking footpaths
3terrifyingunderground caves

And if this were your nextBest holiday memory?