Carcassonne with Kate Mosse

All tours on this holiday have now departed. Future departure dates will be confirmed in due course.

  • Talk with Kate Mosse

  • Private tour of Carcassonne accompanied by Kate Mosse

  • Le Donjon hotel - located within the walls of the citadel, this is one of Carcassonne’s most atmospheric hotels

  • Visit to Rennes les Bains

  • Cruise on the Canal du Midi with lunch in Béziers

  • Spectacular Montsegur Castle, the last stronghold of the Cathars

A world heritage site, Carcassonne is home to perhaps the most majestic medieval castle you will find anywhere – the stuff of children’s fairy-tales. Its dramatic setting, where every battlement has a story to tell, is the evocative backdrop to Kate Mosse’s best-selling Languedoc trilogy.  The British author fell under the spell of the city almost three decades ago, and it has been inspiring her work ever since. She previously has written in the pages of the Mail on Sunday: “It's my passion for the history and landscape of the Languedoc region, and Carcassonne's medieval citadel in particular, that inspires my storytelling. Whenever I see its 52 turrets and towers, the mellow stone against the blue sky, I can hardly believe it is real.”

This tour, based in the historic heart of Carcassonne, explores the unique history of the city and the area around – and features a special appearance from the writer, who has done so much to bring its astonishing history to life. This will be a brilliant tour for anyone who has enjoyed Kate Mosse’s work as well as any fans of this magnificent part for France.

"One glance at the citadel was all it took – I've been head over heels in love with Carcassonne ever since. I hope you can join me here in this dazzling city, with so many stories to tell.”

ITINERARY

Day 1: Travel by Eurostar from St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Paris and onwards by TGV to Narbonne
Transfer from Narbonne Station to Hotel Donjon in Carcassonne for 6-night stay.

Day 2: Carcassonne and evening talk and dinner with Kate Mosse
A guided day on foot with your tour manager, Alex Patrimonio to introduce you to the delights of this spectacular citadel town.  Highlights include the Chateau Comtal and Basilique-St Nazaire.  Afternoon free for further independent exploration or just to relax at the hotel. Evening talk from Kate Mosse, welcome drink and dinner with wine at the hotel’s brasserie.

Day 3: Morning walking tour of Carcassonne with appearance from  Kate Mosse
This morning we continue our exploration of Carcassone with an appearance from Kate, who will elaborate on its significance in her writing.   Afternoon excursion to Rennes-le-Chateau & Rennes-les-Bains, the spa town that featured in the best-selling “Sepulchre.” 

Day 4: Full day Mirepoix and Montsegur Castle
A morning visit to Mirepoix on market day offers a wonderful flavour of southwest life.  Its huge square, lined with ancient houses is packed with stalls.  The afternoon is spent at the ruins of the  Cathar castle of Montsegur, the last stronghold of the Cathars, situated atop the hill above the town, reached by a steep path.  In 1243, 10, 000 papal troops laid siege to the castle for 10 months.  When captured, 205 Cathars refused to convert and were burnt alive. 

Day 5: Full day Narbonne and Beziers
A major city during Roman times Narbonne’s delightful, restored, medieval centre is where you’ll find the majority of its sites. These include the impressive 13th century Cathédrale Saint-Just et Saint-Pasteur and the Archbishop’s Palace.  Famous for bullfights, rugby and wine, Beziers is dominated by its massive 14th century Cathedrale St-Lazaire.  In 1209, several thousand of its citizens were massacred in the crusade against the Cathars.  The papal troops were told to “Kill them all.   God will recognise his own!”  Here we will enjoy a canal cruise on the Canal du Midi with lunch served on board, before free time to explore the town and returning to Carcassone.

Day 6: Full day Toulouse
Toulouse was once the home to the resplendent court of the count of Toulouse who controlled much of southern France and it continues to be an important city today, particularly in terms of aviation. The old city, the Ville Rose, is compact and easy to explore – the two churches St-Sernin and Les Jacobins, together with some Renaissance townhouses are architectural gems.

Day 7: Transfer to Narbonne station for return TGV and Eurostar to Paris and onwards to Ebbsfleet or St Pancras.

NB: Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion.

Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 49 passengers.

INCLUDED

  • Return Eurostar/TGV from St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Narbonne via Paris/Lille
  • Six nights' accommodation bed and breakfast basis at the four-star Donjon Hotel, Carcassonne, based on shared occupancy of twin room
  • Welcome drink, dinner with wine and talk from Kate Mosse at the hotel brasserie
  • Canal cruise with lunch in Béziers
  • Transfers and full coach touring itinerary as detailed 
  • Tour manager throughout

NOT INCLUDED

  • Single room supplement
  • Holiday insurance
  • Standard Premier/1st Class upgrade on Eurostar/TGV. On the Eurostar this constitutes upgraded seating and light meal with complimentary drink with upgraded seating only on the French railway leg. 
  • Meals other than those stated
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls.
  • Porterage and gratuities.

PLEASE NOTE: As with most trains, passengers are responsible for carrying baggage onto and off the train. Baggage can be stored on overhead shelves or at the entrance to the carriages. Trollies are available at St Pancras and Paris, but bags do need to be carried on to the platform.

Travel Editions recommends a luggage delivery service called thebaggageman, where your suitcase can be picked up from your home before departure and delivered straight to your hotel; therefore removing the worry about carrying your cases onto and off the trains. Please click here for more information and we have arranged a 10% discount exclusive to Travel Editions clients off the thebaggageman service. Tel: 01844 264890

HOTELS

Donjon Hotel, Carcasssonne

The four-star Donjon Hotel is one of very few located within the city walls and offers a high standard of accommodation in an ideal position to appreciate the atmosphere of one of France’s most appealing towns.  Features include an adjacent brasserie, bar and very comfortable bedrooms with all modern amenities.

Donjon Hotel website 

Pre-tour accommodation is available at the Premier Inn, London Kings Cross St Pancras, about a 5 minutes walk from St Pancras International, at an approximate rate of £120 per room. Bookings can be made direct with the hotel on 0871 527 8672 or visit their website.

MORE INFO - Please click here to see full details of this tour


About our special guest

Kate Mosse is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 38 languages. Her fiction includes the novels Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007), The Winter Ghosts (2009), Citadel (2012), and The Taxidermist's Daughter (2014), as well as an acclaimed collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales (2013). Kate's latest novel is The Sunday Times No.1 bestseller, The Burning Chambers (2018). The Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and in June 2013, Kate was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature. Kate divides her time between Sussex and Carcassonne, the hilltop town in southern France that has featured as a vivid backdrop to several of her novels.

 

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Review by Anonymous who travelled 15-October-2019


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This was an excellent tour made all the more interesting by Alex our tour guide. If I could award him 11 out of 10 I would. He had an amazing knowledge and made all our trips very enjoyable.

Review by O'Connell who travelled 15-October-2019


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Would be happy to pay a bit extra to travel first class on Eurostar as it felt like we were in a ‘cattle truck’! Very difficult for older people to actually get on and off Eurostar with a suitcase as such a big gap between platform and train and no one to assist. Our tour manager actually had to assist by carrying our suitcases up and down stairs at Nabonne Station as there is no lift there above and beyond his call of duty! Don’t know how severely disabled would manage.

Review by Sharp who travelled 15-October-2019


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A very good tour, Kate Mosse was excellent with a good selection of sightseeing tours. A little more time to spend in Carcassonne (or just downtime) would have been welcomed. The tour was richly enhanced by Alex our tour guide who was simply brilliant. His consideration, sense of humour and wide ranging knowledge enhanced every element of the tour.

Review by Barlow who travelled 15-October-2019


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I booked late by phone in response to a timely email which gave me that sense of "I have to be on that tour!" I was right. I didn't actually see all the details until my package with tickets arrived on the Friday before travel so was rather on tenterhooks. But I was reassured by the team when I phoned with questions. I am glad I stayed overnight in London at each end as my travel was disrupted. But from the time we were seated on the Eurostar we were welcomed and looked after by Alex our wonderful, knowledgeable and inspirational guide who went beyond the call of duty to make our time rewarding. I was glad to be seated next to another adventurer travelling alone. The group was big but an interesting, varied and lovely bunch of people. There was never any need to be alone unless you wanted to. The journey each way was long, but gave time to unwind an prepare for the time in Carcassonne. I was glad I had made time to read the Languedoc Trilogy in the few weeks before coming out as it enriched my week by having the echoes and references in my head as we were introduced to the places and the rich history. The Hotel was wonderful; I was really glad to be allocated a room in the main building which was so atmospheric. The rooms were clean and we had regular cleaners in. The breakfasts were wonderful with lots of choices. The choice of trips was superb in spite of various disruptions during the week of our stay. The only niggle I might have put forward was that it was SO well organised and full that there wasn't quite enough space to assimilate all we were experiencing .. or in my case, to rest! But missing anything really didn't feel like an option as Alex brought everything to life and kept us on the ball! Kate Mosse was a total delight. I loved the way she humbly shared her story and the sources of the inspiration for various episodes and characters and names in her books … and she was generous with her time and her ear to answer questions. The morning we were treated to a walk around Carcassonne with her as our guide was really wonderful. (I have to say that we drew the short straw with the French guide who led the half of the party I was in around the City on the first morning ,,, she was clearly passionate, but very repetitive and obviously used to working with children and her English was not so good. I would have done better with a good book and map and a morning to work round ,,, or better still to have had Alex lead us round as the quality of his knowledge, general, historical and all that related to Kate's books was outstanding. And his English was fine!) We worked him hard though and I was aware he needed a bit of gathering time too! (Tho he did accompany us on that particular tour!) I had high hopes when I signed up for this tour, and was slightly hesitant that I might be setting the bar too high and would be bound to be disappointed, But all my expectations and hopes were blown out of the water! I came away buzzing, full of inspiration, ready to go back and read the Trilogy again immediately with the extra insights and to embark upon the next quartet as soon as possible. I also found several soul mates along the way … probably not eternal, but the group was full of people encouraging one another, listening to each other's stories and I'm sure there was some healing along the way. Thank you for setting such a wonderful week up. Annie B

Review by Ballard who travelled 15-October-2019


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Wonderful location made better by a brilliant tour manager, who combined excellent knowledge with a delightful sense of humour and the icing on the cake was meeting Kate Mosse.

Review by Anonymous who travelled 15-October-2019


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The tour and talk by Kate Mosse were wonderful (excellent). The female local tour guide was good but not excellent like Kate.Alex Patrimonio the tour guide was outstanding. I would certainly consider other tours with your company.

Review by Anonymous who travelled 15-October-2019


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The meeting and tour of Carcassonne with Kate Mosse were both very successful, Kate being very approachable and enthusiastic, not just fulfilling a role. Tour manager Alex made the tour; he was relaxed, most knowledgeable and with a great sense of humour. He treated us as friends, not customers. A real gem, hang on to him!

Review by Lavery who travelled 15-October-2019


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Overall an excellent tour(and we don't usually do tours!), special mention needs to be made of the Tour Manager, Alex. Without his knowledge and good humour this tour would not have been the same, he really did make the difference between just good and excellent. The only disappointment was the Hotel Le Donjon, particularly if, as was our case, you're in the annexe Le Battlements. I'm not sure how the hotel can claim 4 stars for this annexe as well as the main building. There are no facilities, no staff visible and entry is by a keypad, also the house keeping was inconsistent(we had one small bottle of water all week whereas other rooms had theirs replenished daily). In comparison to the main building the rooms are inferior and ours was very small, coupled with a return walk, in all weathers, for breakfast. It is not credible that the charge for the inferior quality of the annexe is the same as the main building. I would rather have paid extra to have stayed at Le Hotel de La Cite in preference to the annexe.

Review by Rham who travelled 15-October-2019


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In a word - FANTASTIC Alex, the tour manager, was personable, very knowledgeable and with a wicked sense of humor. He and Kate Mosse made it a really memorable holiday; one I shall never forget.

Review by Lawrence who travelled 15-October-2019


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Review by Anonymous who travelled 26-April-2019


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I enjoyed the trip but there was not enough free time to look around Carcassonne on our own. Loved Kate Moss, very entertaining and informative. It would have been better to fly to Carcassonne as the train journeys took far too long. A lot of the excursions were pretty gruelling, considering the ages and physical abilities of our party. Our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive.

Review by Wiskin who travelled 26-April-2019


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Carcassonne. When I see that word I think of a walled cite with towers and turrets pointing up into a bright blue sky. Then Labyrinth, Sepulchre & Citadel, the brilliant trilogy by Kate Mosse whose characters breathe life into the beautiful Languedoc region of Southern France, so a tour staying within the walls of the cite and a chance to hear Kate describe how she fell in love with Carcassonne, write the trilogy and start her new quartet of novels could not be missed. A gentle walk through the cite with Kate, ably assisted by Alex Patrimonio, our brilliant Tour Manager, reminding us of the long and tragic history of the place and the characters we love, was perfect. Driving through the garrigue and vineyards heading for Montségur with Mercedes at the wheel of our coach how could we not feel the presence of Audric Baillard, Alais, Guillaume and Alice in the shadow of the Black mountains? A surprise visit to Coustaussa to meet the Mayor and enjoy a tasting of the local cremant de Limoux and I remembered Sandrine in Citadel, whose family home in the village played such a large part in the book. A spooky find upstairs in the small museum and I was staring at two skeletons lying side by side, a male and a female and I couldn’t help but think of the scene in the cave in Labyrinth. The labyrinth in the porch of the cathedral in Mirepoix can no longer be seen but its photograph is in the nave. Béziers, where 20,000 citizens were massacred by the Crusaders, felt surprisingly peaceful and the view from the cathedral of St Lazare is stunning. Confit of duck for lunch on the Canal du Midi, prelude to a gentle cruise, was delicious and the blue coloured aperitif which had all of us thinking, turned out to be blue curaçao and the local sparkling wine and not something used to rinse your mouth at the dentist (although I have suggested to my dentist that he provides Prosecco for that purpose). Another notable place for food is the covered market in Narbonne where we joined the locals after a visit to the unfinished gothic cathedral. I can’t visit Carcassonne without having Cassoulet at least once and there are many restaurants which serve this classic dish. Lily of the Valley, the traditional flowers of May Day in France were in abundance in Toulouse, as were le Gilets Jaunes and militant Trades Unionists and only careful liaison by Alex with the riot police allowed us to visit the magnificent Romanesque basilica of Saint-Sernin. On the walk back to the coach, which Mercedes had parked well outside the possible clutches of le Gilets Jaunes, we passed a memorial to the Armenian Genocide. Charles Aznavour came to my mind and I played a couple of his songs on the coach, which gave me goosebumps. Alex played us some Debussy, a nod, of course, to his part in Sepulchre. Onwards to Castelnaudary for a picnic lunch and then to a secret destination arranged by Alex which I promised not to mention so not to spoil the surprise for future tours. I will mention the flora and fauna of the Languedoc, cleverly identified by Alex as we went along. Roadside orchids, red kite, black kite, griffon vultures, short toed eagles, bee eaters, swifts, house martins, bats (18 varieties found in the Languedoc) and I found a snakes head fritillary on the slopes of the hill at Montségur. Wonderful. Whoever devised this tour deserves a medal. If you love Kate’s books, Carcassonne and the Languedoc you simply must go. Thank you Travel Editions, for another truly wonderful tour.

Review by Richardson who travelled 26-April-2019


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Review by Wiggins who travelled 26-April-2019


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We thought the trip was excellent and as first time tour guests we were pleasantly surprised. A couple of things was that given the average age of the group we felt there should have been a free afternoon or day in Carcassonne, which we took instead of going to Toulouse. Alex was excellent and a great guide but at times it might have been a bit more organised. The trips to Narbonne and Béziers either needed more content or should have been optional to give the free time as mentioned above. Overall it was a fun time and great group of people.

Review by Anonymous who travelled 26-April-2019


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An excellent trip, well up to expectations. Kate Mosse brought Carcassonne alive for us with her interesting and engaging talks, always finding that something extra to beguile us. Alex our tour manager was first rate, helpful, friendly and co operative and added an informative commentary when appropriate. Mercedes our driver has special thanks for driving the coach to places I’d hesitate in my car! We had never holidayed with Travel Editions before but will certainly do so again, we enjoyed meeting everyone. However there are a few niggles. Our arrival at the hotel, after a delayed train, was chaotic and unwelcoming, we had to wait for luggage to be delivered and initially were told the advertised bar was unavailable, this was opened after several complaints. Our room was in a an annexe some distance from the main hotel and didn’t, we felt, give the value or experience of the main building, definitely not 4 star. The tour on our first day was most interesting and we would have enjoyed exploring Carcassonne further that afternoon. We did appreciate the bateau lunch and tour but felt this followed by the evening meal was a little too much and may be better on a different day. The tours were really good and care had been taken to make them relevant to the books, we thoroughly enjoyed them and participated fully but were aware that people with mobility difficulties were struggling, perhaps the terrain and distances walked should be made clearer. Finally Montségur was absolutely great and wouldn’t have missed it for anything but the path is very steep and uneven and would be treacherous in any but fine weather conditions. Apologies for any negativity, we had a fabulous week and have been singing it’s praises to all since we returned. Please feel free to print my review up the “niggles bit”

Review by Johnson-Proctor who travelled 26-April-2019


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Trip was excellent, my tour manager Alex knowledge was wide and experience of France made my holiday experience one to remember. He arrange a special surprise for the 1st May which did not disappoint. Can't wait to look at the brochures for my next trip. My tour of Carcassonne with Kate Mosse helped me really imagine the characters in her lovely books roll on the next instalment. Only one comment putting lunch and dinner on the same day was a bit much maybe you need to split lunch on one day and the dinner the next.

Review by Fairgrieve who travelled 26-April-2019


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Thoroughly enjoyed the holiday, and the tour manager Alex, could not have been more obliging. If you are looking for any gripes I would say that this type of tour attracts the older generation, and a great deal of walking/ climbing didn't really suit. the days were a little to full of activities, and we needed some time to ourselves to recover, hence many not taking the Toulouse tour on the last full day, so they could relax. That said we would travel with you again. Rob. Haram

Review by Haram who travelled 26-April-2019


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