The castles of the Pays Cathares are located mainly in the Aude and Ariège regions. A procedure is in progress and may lead to their inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Less than ten campsites near the Cathar castles can enable you to organise a tour during your holiday to visit the more spectacular castles. You should know that for some of them... it's worth it. Here is a small selection, our favourites for sure. Each of them is worth the diversion on its own.
Montségur: the star
Because of its position at an altitude of 1200 m, its state of preservation and the legends associated with it, it is certainly one of the best known. It is said, for example, that it sheltered the treasure of the Cathars wherever the Holy Grail was hidden there, or even still is. A half-hour walk along a small path leads to the interior of the building. Montségur is one of the few "Cathar castles" that is located in Ariège. A handful of guides organise visits. Unless you are a master of the subject, choose one of them. It will tell you the great but also... the small history of Montségur.
Peyrepertuse: the stone vessel
Like Quéribus, Peyrepertuse undoubtedly justifies the name "Citadel of Vertigo". Perched at an altitude of 800 m at the top of a cliff more than 40 m high, it dominates the vineyards of the region (Corbière wines) and the village of Duilhac. It can be reached by a road which stops at the foot of the cliff. Then, a small path allows to go around the castle and to reach it by the main entrance. The climb is not recommended in stormy weather to protect visitors from lightning and the risk of slipping. Visit Peyrepertuse... it's worth it!
Puilaurens: clinging to the clouds
It is certainly one of the most spectacular. It is indeed perched at the top of a rocky peak at more than 700 m above sea level. In addition to its location, Puilaurens stands out for its remarkable state of preservation. The visit to the castle begins with a botanical trail that winds its way to the foot of the fortress and presents the flora of the region.
Queribus: the "Citadel of Vertigo".
For its state of conservation, for its location, for its history (it is the last Cathar bastion to have fallen), if there is only one Cathar castle that you should visit, it is certainly that of Quéribus. Perched on its rocky peak like an eagle's nest, it seems to watch over the Corbière massif and the Roussillon plain as if clinging to the clouds. From the top of its 728 meters, the terrace of the keep offers an unforgettable panorama that stretches from the sea, the Corbières, to the Pyrenees.
Lastours: four for the price of one
The least we can say is that by choosing to visit Lastours Castle, you will get value for money. Indeed, 15 minutes from Carcassonne, overlooking the Montagne Noire, it is not one but four castles that await you. These four citadels, which once formed a single whole, dominate the village of Lastours whose houses are spread out over the hills. You can even visit, at the foot of the four castles, the ruins of the medieval village of Cabaret which have been the subject of archaeological excavations since 1987.