Thursday 7 November 2013

James McDonald is a writer and public speaker, specializing in the history of the Languedoc.   
James  has long had a special interest in the area’s heretical traditions and has lived in the region since 1997.  James McDonald is also the creator of the leading English language website on the Cathars.
James is a master at making complex subjects accessible and memorable. The tours are conceived with a view to keeping driving time to a minimum and giving participants a really authentic taste of  the best that is on offer in the region today as well as an authentic and highly informative guide to its history.  His main area of interest is the Cathars, the crusade launched against them in the early thirteenth century, and the papal inquisition that was subsequently founded to exterminate the surviving vestiges of Cathar beliefs.

He has read extensively on all aspects of the subject including the role of the papacy and the Counts of Toulouse, techniques of medieval warfare, the concept of heresy, the troubadours, knighthood, the High Middle Ages, and political implications of the crusade. Although his knowledge is encyclopaedic, his style is refreshingly entertaining and he has a gift for weaving apparently disparate threads together into a coherent narrative.

James has lived in the Languedoc for 20 years. He is currently restoring the chateau-fort where he lives with his wife and young son. Oxford educated, he holds both an MA and an MSc.

Several times each summer he conducts week-long tours of Cathar castles and other places associated with the Cathars. Sites visited include iconic strongholds like Montsegur perched on remote mountain tops, sites of massacres where hundreds of Cathars were burned alive, abbeys like Fontfroide from which the crusade was organised, inquisitorial offices, and cities surviving from the Cathar period such as Carcassonne and Foix.

The tours are carefully planned. They appeal to people of all ages and levels of knowledge. They are  informal, and James will be happy to digress into tangential questions ranging from Cathar theology and inquisitorial techniques to modern attempts to link the Cathars with various mysteries such as Rennes-le-Château. Groups are small and friendly.
Most venues are easily accessible, though a couple of them require a 40 minute up-hill walk.

Lunch and dinner are provided every day, and we make a point of ensuring an interesting selection of dishes, including local specialities. We also select local wines, often from the immediate vicinity - we visit sites in famous wine-growing regions such as the Cabardès, Minervois, Fitou, Corbières and Maury.

The Languedoc itself is steeped in history. From Greeks, Etruscans and Romans, through Celts, Visigoths, and Moors. This is the land of the Troubadours. It is studded with spectacular megaliths, caves, castles, churches and abbeys. It boasts spectacular wildlife, thermal springs and even prehistoric remains.

Link to James on Wikipedia

Scheduled tours including 8 nights with full board are typically 2500 Euros per person. Personalised tours can be tailored according to budgets and length of stay with a slant on cost or luxury according to group size and budget. 

Tours include visits to Cathar Castles in and adjacent to the Aude Department, for more information see the Cathar country tour site.

Travelling as we do using the best of local resources,  family run hotels and restaurants we respect the cultural environment and stimulates local culture and business.  Chemin de l'histoire that cultivate the culture of today.

James communicates his love of the subject with erudition, eloquence and humor.  We use our grass roots knowledge to ensure that our clients get a really authentic taste of the best that the region has to offer,  carefully choosing family run restaurants and planning to allow for pretty routes and sufficient rest time.  

Banquets at the Chateau de St Ferriol are available by arrangement for a minimum of 24 participants.

We offer tours centred on the Cathars of the Langeudoc, all conducted in English, on location in the Pays Cathare “Cathar Country”.

The Cathar movement and the Albigensian Crusade against it were two of the most important events in European history.

For more information about the tours, click here.

To contact us directly:

France: 0468 20 11 42
USA: 011 33 468 20 11 42
UK: 00 33 468 20 11 42
Other Countries: +33 468 20 11 42

Email: with the subject line Cathar Tours

Mailing Address:
Sophie Duncan
Cathar Tours
Chateau de St-Ferriol
11500 Aude

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