a la Carte Tours

A la Carte Cather Country Tours

Our A la Carte tours offer you the flexibility to design your own history immersion experience featuring Oxford-educated researcher and author James McDonald with the added possibility of professional collaborators personally selected by James.

Should you wish for us to organise your accommodation too we offer a free concierge service for our day tour clients and are well connected with tried tested and loved local hotels, bed and breakfast and restaurants.  Several of our favourite hotels are in market towns that have several exciting choices of restaurant for dinner. By special arrangement we can organise for a dinner at one of the several fine Chateau restaurants nearby or en famille at Chateau de St Ferriol.
While our tours will always highlight key Cathar sites and history, the Languedoc offers unique opportunities to explore a wide range of pre-historic and historic themes. Ancient hominids, Greeks, Etruscans, Romans, Celts, Visigoths, Moors, Templar Knights, Medieval Counts, Troubadours and others have all left traces behind and James and his colleagues are uniquely qualified to bring this rich heritage to life. The Languedoc is studded with spectacular mountains, megaliths, caves, castles, churches, abbeys, wildlife, thermal springs and even dinosaur fossils. This living library of human and natural history offers endless opportunities for you to gain unique insights into an amazing range of fascinating topics.
James brings a deep understanding of Cathar heritage to all Cathar Country Tours, but after living, researching and writing in the Languedoc for decades, he is also uniquely qualified to customize tours that illuminate all aspects of the region’s pre-history and history. His extensive contacts with other researchers in the region enable Cathar Country Tours to customize a tour with James and/or independent collaborators selected him for their eminence in their respective fields to deepen your understanding of virtually any aspect of the Languedoc’s natural and human past.
You decide when, where, what and how long – we respond with an itinerary that addresses all of your interests.
James’ carefully designed single-day and multi-day tour programs embracing over two-dozen Cathar sites paint a coherent picture of both the specific events and personalities linked to each site and its contribution to the larger historical tableau. His combination of wit and erudition – and his frequent use of colourful quotations from the Cathars and Crusaders themselves -- enable him to make complex historical themes accessible in a way that is unique and memorable. Your historical immersion experience with James highlights key places carefully selected by him to explain not only what happened in the Languedoc seven centuries ago, but also why it happened and why it still matters.
Like any credible scholar, James also knows the limits of his personal expertise and respects the fact that other researchers in the region can offer you insights into many other facets of the Languedoc’s story. Whether the focus is on geology, palaeontology, the dawn of man, antiquity, the Middle Ages or more recent history, we can customize tours for individuals, families and groups with guaranteed high standards of scholarship and attention to detail.
Because we have lived and worked in the Languedoc for over two decades, we can draw on deep experience and contacts to customize a tour for you or your group that meets your most exacting expectations. Some of the variables we can discuss include:
  • Topics, places and activities of special interest to you
  • The date(s) and length of your visit
  • Accommodation, food, transportation and other preferences
  • Prior exposure to topics of interest
We are headquartered in a restored 16th-Century castle located in the charming hill-top village of Saint-Ferriol, about an hour’s drive from Carcassonne. In addition to site visits throughout the Languedoc, we can host wine & cheese tastings, lectures, musical programs, meals and other activities here.
Whether you’re on the trail of dinosaurs, the Knights Templar or one of the region’s mystery-shrouded sites (such as Rennes la Chateau, which is visible from our chateau), we can arrange a tour by multi-lingual guides who not only take you to sites of interest, but offer you insights and local-perspectives you won’t find in anywhere else.
The same high standards of scholarship and teaching skills we insist on for our scheduled tours apply to the A la Carte tours. This format also allows us to incorporate other exceptional opportunities into your travel experience – including bicycle, equestrian, canal boat and other transportation options. Of course, we recognize that no visit to the Languedoc would be complete without sampling regional cuisine, wine, music and cultural offerings, so those and more can be incorporated into your itinerary – that’s why we designate this our A la Carte tour option.
Quite simply, we are determined to offer groups ranging in size from two to nineteen the most rewarding and insightful Cathar Country experience possible. Sketch out your dream vacation and rely on us to make those dreams come true. Here are some examples of thematic tours we have developed or are developing:

  • Cathars and wine tours in the Languedoc
  • Cathar Castles and photography in the Languedoc
  • Cathars and megalithic sites in the Languedoc
  • Cathars and the history of the church in the Languedoc
  • Cathars and the Languedoc mysteries
  • The Cathar Crusade
  • Heraldry in the Languedoc
  • Cycling to the Cathar Castles
  • Horse riding to the Cathar Castles
  • Hiking to the Cathar castles
Examples of sites Cathar Country Tours has included in past itineraries:
  • Aguilar
  • Albi
  • Alet les Bains
  • Avignonet
  • Arques Castle and Museum
  • Bram Circulade village and site of Atrocities during the Albegensian crusade
  • Le Bezu
  • Carcassonne`s Renaissance Bastide and Medieval City, Castle  and Basilica
  • Collioure
  • Foix
  • Fontfroide Abbey
  • Galamus Creek
  • Lastours and Cabaret Three Cathar Chateaux and medieval village
  • Lagrasse Abbey and Medieval Town
  • Mazamet Cathar Museum
  • Megalithic Sites
  • Minerve Cathar Castle
  • Montaillou
  • Montsegur Castle and Village
  • Niaux Grotte
  • Peyreperteuse Castle and Village
  • Puilaurens Castle
  • Puivert Castle
  • Queribus Castle
  • Rennes les Bains
  • Rennes le Chateau
  • Saint Hilaire Benedictine Abbey
  • Termes Castle
  • Toulouse historic sites
  • Villerouge Castle
Start dreaming so we can start planning the perfect travel and educational experience for you, your family or group.

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