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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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UNESCO World Heritage City, Carcassonne
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Highlights

  • Cathar country of the Languedoc-Roussillon & the French Pyrenees.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site of Carcassonne and its fortified city.
  • Landscapes shaped by the history of the ever-rebellious Cathars.
  • Bastide of Mirepoix with its colourful half-timbered houses and squares.
  • Regional French cuisine and wines of character, such as Roussillon red.

Make your way on foot from the fortified city of Carcassonne into the foothills of the Ariège Pyrenees, stronghold of the Cathars.

Here, the Middle Ages have left an indelible footprint. Mystical Medieval castles, Romanesque abbeys and a multitude of history all serve to provide a walking tour which stirs the imagination. These landscapes are full of intrigue with lush valleys, dramatic gorges, rolling hills, snow-peaked mountains and pretty villages in the shadow of dramatic castles.

Experience appealing and delicious regional cuisine, robust wines, and characterful hand-picked accommodations.

Day 1: Arrive in Carcassonne.

Arrive in the intriguing city of Carcassonne, famous as the place where the Crusader army laid siege in 1209 and came to fight the heresy of the Cathars. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well-worthy of a day or two of exploration, from the Bastide to the medieval fortifications and the Canal du Midi.


Overnight: Carcassonne


Day 2: Carcassonne City & Landscapes Walk.

Today’s introductory walk begins at the Porte Narbonnaise and takes you through the Medieval city before heading out of town along the GR 36 through the plains of the Aude. Pech Mary Hill offers great and unusual views over Carcassonne, the Carcassés Plain and the Montagne Noir beyond the city to the south. Walk through shady pine forest and past local vineyards until you return back to the medieval city. As it is a short walk there will be time to explore further here and the fortifications that were built in 12th century by the Trencavel family.  


Walk:  9 km


Overnight: Carcassonne


Day 3: Transfer to Vals. Walk to Mirepoix

Today’s transfer (1 hour) brings you to the delightful little village of Vals and its Troglodyte Church of Haute d’Isle which is carved out of a rock. If you venture inside you will see the fabulous Romanesque frescoes and there are also great views over the surrounding countryside from the terrace. From here walk along the GR 76 route all the way to the delightful town of Mirepoix. This town has a large central square surrounded by half-timbered houses. During the crusade against the Cathars in 1209 the castle became dispossessed.


Walk: 14 km


Overnight: Mirepoix


Day 4: Walk Lac de Montbel to Mirepoix

Today a transfer of 30 minutes brings you to the gorgeous and stunningly blue lake of Montbel with its pretty wooded shores. If you wish you can spend some time at the lake, perhaps even taking a dip in its pleasant waters if it is warm enough. Then embark on today’s walk which takes you through the pretty village of Camon, one of the “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France”.


Continue on through the peaceful countryside into Mirepoix.


Walk: 20 km


Overnight: Mirepoix


Day 5: Transfer to La Bastide sur l’Hers. Walk to Montségur

A transfer of 20 minutes brings you to the delightful village of La Bastide sur L’Hers located at the foot of the Plantaurel Hills and on the banks for the River L’Hers. Make your way south on trails through forests, small villages and gradually into the mountains of the Ariège region.


Arrive into the historic village of Montségur. As you approach you will see the famous sight of Montségur Castle, perhaps one of the most famous and powerful of the Cathar Castles and situated on a spectacular “pog” or mountain. This was the place of one of the last Cathar strongholds.


Walk:  20 km


Dinner & Overnight: Montségur


Day 6: Free day to explore Montségur

This village is interesting to explore, lying in the shadow of its castle with small cobbled streets, a museum, tourist office and little shops. While away some time ambling through the village and admiring the surrounding views.  The scenes here stir the imagination of times when the Cathars lived and ruled here.


Overnight: Montségur


Day 7: Montségur Loop Walk via the Moulzoune Valley and Lake

Head south on your wonderful walk today and along a trail that takes you past the Roc de la Gourgue and onto the Moulzoune Valley through wooded terrain and alongside a peaceful lake. Passing through the little village of Ceries, you then walk along the Cathar des Sentiers and along a wooded valley back to Montségur.


Walk: 18 km


Overnight: Montségur


Day 8: Onward Travel

An included transfer brings you to the Railway Station in Foix, from where you can make your onward journeys.


Accommodation

On this tour you will stay in charming,  characterful and hand-picked 2* and 3* hotels and chambres d’hotes. These lodgings are truly special places and one of the highlights of this tour.


Alternate Accommodation

We will always try and accommodate you at the accommodations listed. However, if those listed are unavailable, alternative accommodation of the same or better standard than those described will be provided. However, since accommodation in Montségur is scarce there is the possibility of staying in another chambre d’hotes, either in the village or just outside. These accommodations are more simple but very clean and comfortable.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable.


We welcome solo walkers on this trip with a supplement. Although you should of course take extra care in the outdoors when walking solo.


Meals

A continental or buffet breakfast is included each morning. Lunch is not included. On some days you will be walking through small villages with cafes, restaurants and a shop or two, so you will be able to buy lunch en route. However on some of the walking days it will be essential to take a packed lunch as there are no cafes or restaurants en route.


Dinner is included on Night 5 (the day of arrival in Montségur). For the other nights you will be able to try some excellent local cuisine in nearby local restaurants or you can dine at your accommodation if they have a restaurant.


Examples of accommodations are detailed below:



 

 

 




Hotel du Pont Vieux - Carcassonne

Ideally located just a short walk away from the Medieval city this hotel is situated in a beautiful 18th century building and offers a warm and friendly atmosphere.


 

 

 


 

 

 




La Maison des Consuls - Mirepoix

This hotel overlooks the main Medieval square in Mirepoix and has been miraculously preserved from its 13th century shell. With authentic decor the rooms are nicely furnished and breakfast is served in the little courtyard.


 

 

 


 

 

 



La Pelerin - Montsegur



La Pelerin - Montsegur

This adorable chambres d'hotes is located in the heart of the village. The spacious rooms are all very tastefully decorated and the views out of the windows are second to none!


 

 

 

Time of Year

We would encourage you to travel anytime during the available dates which is April to October. In the spring there will be plenty of wildflowers, summer is warmer but should never be really hot, especially when you are in the mountains and the autumn is a fantastic time to go when the fruits are ripening and the days are still warm.


Grade & Terrain

This tour has a moderate grading. However the first city walk in Carcassonne is easy to moderate, then the difficulty increases as you go further into the mountains. The trails are a combination of city walks or using dirt or wooded trails, gravel tracks and tarmac country roads. This tour is suitable for walkers with very good physical fitness. There are significant elevation gains on losses on the final walk in Montségur and on the walk from La Bastide sur L’Hers into Montségur, however it is a gradual elevation gain as you walk into the mountains. If it has been raining when you are there or just before, there are likely to be some muddy trails too.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

Some of the walks will be way-marked with either a red and white GR sign, when on a GR Trail and some also signed with yellow signposts. However you will also need to be vigilant and be able to closely follow your route notes. We can also provide you with detailed maps and GPS tracks for those who like to take a GPS unit. Please ask your Destination & Adventure Specialist for details.


Baggage Transfer

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes.Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example. proper rain gear, sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take.This includes good waterproof gear, walking shoes/boots, and lots of other useful bits and bobs.

Getting to Carcassonne

There are a number of different options available to get to Carcassonne. It is on a main train line and accessible from either Toulouse or Beziers Airports, which are the closest and most convenient. Toulouse Airport is served by many different airlines, including Easyjet, Air France and KLM. You can take an airport shuttle bus into the centre of Toulouse (every 30 mins and takes approx 25 mins) and then board a train from Toulouse Centre to Carcassonne (takes approx 1 hour and also leaves hourly). From Beziers Airport you can take an airport bus into the centre of Beziers (only 4 times a day and takes approx 30 mins) and then a direct train to Carcassonne from here (every 4 hours taking about 45 mins).


Please check the SNCF website for train details.


Macs Adventure can also arrange private transfers to and from Toulouse or Beziers Airports to Carcassonne. Please contact your Destination & Adventure Specialist for details.


Getting from Montségur

An included transfer is provided from your accommodation in Montségur to Foix Train Station. From Foix there are direct trains to Toulouse. This train departs hourly and takes approx 1H15. You can check the SNCF website for more details on times, prices and schedules.


Included

  • 7 Nights accommodation in hand-picked 2* and 3* hotels and chambres d’hotes
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 1 Dinner on Night 5
  • Luggage transfers
  • People transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Detailed information pack, route notes and IGN maps
  • 24/7 telephone support from our UK office

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to Carcassonne
  • Travel from Foix
  • Lunches & 6 Dinners
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Single room supplement(s) if applicable
  • Solo walker supplement if applicable
  • Private transfers
  • Additional nights before, during and after the walk

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this region is quite popular. Also the accommodation in Montsegur is small, so in order to be able to stay in our first choice accommodation here it would be wise to book early. You will find up to date availability on our website.

How fit do I need to be?

This tour has a moderate grading. However the first city walk in Carcassonne is easy to moderate, then the difficulty increases as you go further into the mountains. The trails are a combination of city walks or using dirt or wooded trails, gravel tracks and tarmac country roads. This tour is suitable for walkers with very good physical fitness.

How do the baggage transfers work?

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.

What equipment do I need?

Your detailed information pack will be sent to you after you book. This has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

You can use public transport or a local taxi to continue to your next overnight stop.

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Macs Adventure - Head Office: Skypark 5, 45 Finnieston Street, Glasgow, G3 8JU, UK

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