Original One-Week Tour

The Original One-Week Tour

Click here for Back ground and useful information about out tours.

Click here for confirmed dates for the Original Cathar Country Tour weeks.

Please find below a day by day description of the original tour.

James has prepared this useful link for participants In response to demand from  our June 2017 group. Chronological guide to events during the Albegensian Crusade.

The Original one week tour is a seamless experience that includes all accommodation, most meals, transport and entries.  

  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Visit over 10 important historic sites
  • 1 dinner at Chateau St Ferriol
  • 5 lunches at selected restaurants
  • 1 dinner at hotel
  • 2 dinners at gourmet restaurants
  • Visit to authentic local produce boutique
  • Entrance fees
  • Gratuities
  • Local taxes
  • James McDonald as guide
  • Dedicated driver and air-conditioned minivan
  • Concierge service for travel to and from tour meeting and departure points
  • Walking sticks provided if required
  • Crib sheet of important dates and characters
  • List of recomended restaurants for free dinner evenings in Quillan and in Toulouse 

You will discover the Medieval history of the French Languedoc Roussillon, a lost corner of wilderness and vineyards peppered with castles and historic vestiges. The Languedoc today is stunning even by French standards and offers an authentic and unspoiled France. Innumerable vestiges from its history as a corridor for Western civilisations over five thousand years are scattered across its rural landscapes and stone villages.

You will be accompanied by James McDonald on a seven day discovery of the Cathars. James is an expert on Cathar beliefs and their struggle with the Catholic Church, that in the 12th century set out to eradicate their humane, gnostic beliefs.

You will visit Abbeys, castles and fortified towns.

The tours are not scripted and James shares this moving and important history with impressive erudition and genuine deep enthusiasm.

Sophie will take care that you have an opportunity to enjoy the wonderful cuisine, produce and wine that Occitania offers today and that routes are carefully planned to ensure that you enjoy a range of stunning varied landscapes.

Whilst in the heart of rural France our mother hotel and our castle base are less than two hours from Toulouse and less than three hours from Barcelona.

Our groups are a maximum 7 participants except for larger groups by special arrangement.

Click here to learn Practical information about our tours and services.

Click here to find out about public transport directions fromToulouse to Quillan

Click here to learn live scheduled dates for the Count's tour.

Cathar Country Original Tour

  • 7 nights accommodation and breakfast
  • 2 dinners at Chateau St Ferriol
  • 5 lunches at gourmet restaurant
  • 3 dinners at hotel
  • 1 dinner at gourmet restaurant
  • Entrance fees
  • Gratuities
  • Local taxes
  • James McDonald as your Guide and a dedicated driver and air-conditioned minivan
  • Concierge service for travel to and from tour meeting and departure points.

The cost is 2750 Euros for the week.

Fixed Original Tour dates open

September 2017: Saturday 2 September — Saturday 9 September 

June 2018: Saturday 2 June — Saturday 9 June

September 2018: Saturday 8 September — Saturday 15 September

You can enjoy reading more about the one week Original Cathar Country Tour below.

The Original Cathar Tour including Termes and Arques, Fontfroide and Villerouge, Puivert and Montségur, Carcassonne and Toulouse.

Day 1

In the evening you are invited to the Château Saint-Ferriol for aperitifs and to meet others on the tour before dinner at the Chateau at 7.30 pm.  Return to the hotel will be at approximately 10.30pm.

Day 2
Termes and Arques
On day two we will head north east through the Corbiéres to visit the castle at Termes, which was besieged for several months during the Albigensian Crusade. 

Lunch is at the Abbey town of Lagrasse or in a small outdoor family run tavern in Termes.  In the afternoon we will visit the castle at Arques, a spectacular construction of the fourteenth century, built by the family of one of the crusade leaders.  

Dinner is at local gourmet restaurant.

Within 20 minutes we are worming our way in to the Corbieres.  Driving through one of the most undisturbed wildernesses of France.  The landscape dappled with pasture, cedar, oak and green oak forest, vast plains of windswept flowering thym and gorse which in June flowers abundantly.  We pass the turning for the roman spa of Rennes les Bains which still offers a naturally heated swimming pool and spring today and for Bugarach and the famous mystic mountain of flying saucer and millenarianist fame.  We keep heading East past the Chateau of Serres, Arques over the Col de Paradis and then climb and climb until we arrive in the small village of Termenes ablaze with lillies in June.

Day 3
Fontfroide and Villerouge
On day three we head North-East towards Fontfroide. Fontfroide is a beautifully restored Cistercian abbey which played an important role in many of the events associated with the Albigensian Crusade.  Lunch is at the abbey restaurant. 

Small local produce coop in the Car park

In the afternoon we will visit the castle of Villerouge, once a residence of the Archbishops of Narbonne, where the last known Cathar Parfait was burned at the stake.   

In the parking area of Villerouge there is a wonderful Co-opertative local produce shop that includes crafts, high quality 'artisanale' cosmetics and foods.  A good opportunity for a quick present shop.

Dinner will be at the Hotel.

Day 4
Free day
A free day is provided.  We will gladly help with the organisation of your excursion or  you can enjoy a day of respite enjoying the local town and the footpaths around it.  In the evening there is a choice of many hotels for dinner.

St Ferriol

Day 5
Puivert and Montségur
On day five we will leave the hotel at Alet-les-Bains and head to the iconic castle of Montségur, towards the Plateau de Sault where over 200 Cathars were burned alive in 1244 after a ten month siege.   We will then go on to visit the village of Montségur, where we will take lunch and visit the museum there. After lunch we will head off East  to visit the Château at Puivert, known for its troubadour history (Eleanor of Aquitaine also visited Puivert). In the late afternoon we will travel onto our hotel in the chic St George's quartier of Toulouse.

Not only is the Chateau at Montsegur an amazing destination but the views on the climb of enormous cave entries in the distant hills, Puivert castle, Roquefixade castle, Montbel Lake will make you tingle.  If you look down at your feet and to the sides of the track you will discover an abundance of wildflowers and woodland.  

In the evening we treat ourselves to a feast of Medieval and Renaissance recipes in the Great hall of Chateau St Ferriol.  Visit here to read some of the recipes.

Day 6
Day six includes a visit to the city of Toulouse.  You will transfer from the Quillan to the Toulouse Hotel.  the last two nights will be spent in Toulouse.  This worked really well.  The Hotel is close to airport and train links as well as the having the sites within easy walking distance.  It was also blissfully quiet with helpful staff happy to print off boarding passes and help with onward travel arrangement.
Here you will discover Toulouse’s beautiful centre and see how the Cathars are remembered in the city’s civic art and some of the monuments and sites that bring to life medieval battles and the activities of the Inquisition. 

Lunch will be at a favourite cafe Place Capitol.  In the afternoon we will visit more historic sites in the heart of the city, which was besieged three times during the period of the Cathar Wars. In late afternoon we will return to Castelnaudary for dinner and our hotel.

Day 7
Day seven is dedicated to Carcassonne, a world Heritage site, and the largest surviving medieval walled city in Europe. In the morning we will visit the city walls the site of several sieges, and also the Basilica, where Saint Dominic preached and Simon de Montfort was originally buried. We will take lunch within the Cité and in the afternoon visit the Chateau Comtal, the Viscounts’ castle within the Cité of Carcassonne.  In late afternoon we will return to Castelnaudary for dinner and our hotel.

Day 8
Breakfast at the Hotel

To reserve a place on a tours please pay 25% 687.50 Euros and return of the completed reservation form confirms your place on the tour. The balance will be due two months before the beginning of the tour start date.

There are currently 2 places remaining for the June 2017 original tour. We will be able to schedule a second one for June. Please do not be disappointed if the current dates do not work for you. We may be able to schedule another week to suit your dates.

To pay your deposit and receive the  'Application Form' please send a message to

Please contact us about the tours if you have any questions.

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