5 nights starting from
Le Donjon hotel - located within the walls of the citadel, this is one of Carcassonne’s most atmospheric hotels
Historic abbeys and chateaux
Spectacular Cathar Castles - Queribus, Peyrepeteuse, Arques and Lastours
Rennes-le- Chateau, setting for Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” and Kate Mosse’s “Sepulchre”
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, towering above the landscape and visible from miles around. This fantastic tour, led by acclaimed historian, Julian Humphrys, is based in the heart of Carcassonne and will bring the bloody and dramatic saga of the Cathars and Crusaders’ period of medieval history to gruesome life, with a series of talks and visits to dramatic castles, historic abbeys, fortified towns and much more.
|17 - March - 2022||£ 1295.00||Travel Info Book Now||booking-journey/#/start/CCR/17 March 2022/|
Departing: 17th March 2022 at 07:50
Returning: 22nd March 2022 at 17:05
Day 1: Fly from London Heathrow to Toulouse and transfer to Carcassonne by coach.
Welcome drink, lecture, ‘Cathars and Crusaders’ and dinner with wine at the hotel brasserie.
Day 2: Full day Carcassonne - La Cite Citadel, evening lecture and dinner with wine.
A full day exploring the superb citadel town of Carcassonne, one of the most photographed cityscapes in France and with good reason. It is a town with a long history too – the Cathars were given sanctuary here in 1209 by Raymond-Roger Trencavel when besieged by Simon de Montfort in his crusade against heresy. A guided tour in the morning will show you some of the main sights, including Basilique St Nazaire, ramparts and city gates. This afternoon we explore Chateau de Comtal, the city’s fortress within a fortress with an internal visit, led by Julian. This evening Julian will deliver a second lecture, ‘Warfare in the Middle Ages, ’ before dinner with wine in the hotel brasserie.
Day 3: Full day tour to Chateau de Queribus and Chateau Peyrepertuse.
The Cathars were a 13th century Christian sect who were critical of the established church, which flourished in the Languedoc region of France. Backed by the Pope, the crusade against them was vicious and bloody with heavy casualties. They took refuge in the defensive castles of the area including Queribus, one of the last strongholds of the Cathars and Peyrepeteuse, one of the most remote and difficult to access, hacked from a long, narrow, stone peak over 2,000 feet high.
Day 4: Full day tour to Abbaye de Fontdroide and Narbonne.
Our first visit of the day is to the architecturally beautiful Abbaye de Fontroide, 15km from Narbonne, a Cistercian monastery dating back to 1093, which now produces AOC Corbieres wine. We then head to Narbonne, a major city during Roman times, whose 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.
Day 5: Full day tour to Rennes-le-Chateau and Chateau Arques.
Rennes le Chateau is familiar to fans of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” and Kate Mosse’s “Sepulchre,” both of which are set here. This hilltop village receives tens of thousands of visitors per year drawn by conspiracy theories surrounding a buried treasure discovered by its 19th-century priest Bérenger Saunière. It is renowned for its village church of St Mary Magdalene and was in the heart of the region being fought over by the Cathars. The afternoon is spent at Chateau Arques, another of the impressive Cathar castles besieged by the crusaders nearly a thousand years ago.
Day 6 Chateaux de Lastours and return flight to London Gatwick.
Before transferring to Toulouse Airport for our return flight to London Heathrow, our final visit is to the four spectacular Cathar castles of Lastours, on a rocky spur above the village of Lastours, isolated by the deep valleys of the Orbeil and Grésilhou rivers. They were built at an altitude of 300 m along a rock wall just 1300 feet long by 165 feet wide, creating a daunting prospect for the Crusaders to contemplate!
Important note: Some of the sights on this tour are reached via rocky, step paths so is not suitable for those with walking difficulties
NB: Exact order of excursions may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion.
Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 25 passengers.
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.
Julian read history at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, has worked at historical sites both in Britain and overseas and is now Development Officer at the Battlefields Trust. He has a very infectious enthusiasm for history and has published numerous books on castles and battles. He currently leads more than a dozen tours for Travel Editions and imparts his extraordinary historical knowledge with wit and panache, making a tour led by him both an educational and entertaining experience.
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