The route of the "castles of freedom", as many have called them, runs through the important monumental remains of the Cathars (12th and 13th centuries), which today are considered, almost, as a myth. A tour of two or three days by car will show us a large part of these relics of the past in the cozy lands of Occitania.
Once past the border, the entire Cathar route is perfectly signposted and indicated and the route can be done from Foix to Perpignan as from Perpignan to Foix.
If we take the city of Foix as a starting point, the next town we find is Lavelanet and access to the castle is from there. Only a few stones remain, although the panorama is splendid.
It is the most famous of all for being testimony to the death of 225 Cathars who died at the stake for not abjuring their faith in 1244. The road to the castle starts from the Prado de los Quemados, where a tombstone is located in honor these men. From there, the climb to the castle is one of the hardest, but the views are worth the effort.
Easily accessible, since it is located at the foot of the road, its building makes clear the purpose for which it was built. Unlike the rest, this castle was a leisure place where horse tournaments were held, and a meeting point for minstrels and troubadours.
It is accessed from Lapradelle and was one of the most important sites of the Cathar resistance. The path of ascent is quite hard but it allows to know the native flora and to have an idea of the complex defensive system that characterized it.
Before reaching the next stop, Saint Paul de Fenouillet shows us its spectacular Gorgues de Galamus, a narrow passage between mountains where the river runs.
It is a spectacular 12th century military work, perfectly mimicked by the mountains. Its extension reaches 300 meters in length and access is via a narrow path between forests that starts from the car park.
With a spectacular location, about 728 meters above sea level, and very close to the Peyrepertuse castle, it was the last Cathar stronghold that fell into the hands of the king (1255). It is a true "eagles' nest".
Construction of the 12th century, which can be accessed from the town of Tuchan, and even to the foot of the castle itself, by car. The most interesting part of its structure is the double exterior wall with six circular towers, since there are hardly any remains of the interior. Another attraction offered by your visit is the unbeatable view of the Corberes vineyards.
About 5 kilometers away, in the town of Tautavel we can visit the museum with the prehistoric remains of the first settlers in the area, some 400,000 years ago.
Languedoc's Cathar Castles (April 2021)