If you are looking for a different winter getaway, Montsegur and the Cathar route is one of the best options. Normally, it is usually an itinerary for spring or summer days, when the weather is better. But as we are lovers of adventure, we went in the months of lesser affluence. The experience? Surprising.
Montsegur and the Cathar route, a magical winter getaway
In recent years, the Cathar route has become popular. In fact, it is easy to find tour operators and agencies that offer it as one of their best proposals. Starting from Perpignan, this route extends 120 kilometers to the west. In the end, Montsegur is the best castle in the old Cathar community. Between these two points, we find different castles and small. So if you are in the south of France or in the north of Spain, this is a winter getaway that you can not miss.
It is possible to say that not all the places have train or public transport. Therefore, if you want to make the whole route of the Cathars, it is best to go by car. By the way, you can enjoy one of the most spectacular and wild landscapes of France, with the Pyrenees in the background.
The Cathar Culture
They were a community of believers from a variant of Christianity. They emerged in the twelfth century and their ideas spread throughout much of Europe, including southern France. At that time, the French monarchy was trying to consolidate its power in the border areas. The pope, ally of the French Crown, proclaimed a crusade against the Cathars, now considered heretics. And so began a persecution that would end in a war against the Crown of Aragon.
The monarch French army won in the battle of Muret forcing to retire the last cathars in the castle of Montsegur. Built by the Cathars themselves, this spectacular fortification was the last bastion of this community before being conquered, finally, by the French crown in the beginning of the XIII century.
Beyond these facts, the Cathar culture has left some testimonies of that past. A clear example of this are its castles and fortresses. The most important are: Carcassone, Foix, Puyvert, Lastours, Montsegur, Peyrepertuse, Quéribus and Villerouge Termenés.
One of the traditions that has recovered along the Cathar route is the traditional gastronomy of the area. Although presented as a “typically Cathar” dish, the cassoulet, a traditional stew based on beans, pork, duck, goose, lamb or partridge cooked for hours. It is a delicious dish, which will bring us the energy enough to make this route.
Montsegur, the best of the route
Finally, we find Montsegur. Situated on top of a rock, the castle stands out among thick layers of snow. You can park right at the beginning of the road that, after 20 minutes of walk, leads to the interior of the castle. The view is spectacular.
You can stay in the same village of Montsegur. Despite being small, it has a hotel and bakery, where you can try one of the best breads in the area.
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