Medieval cultural heritage In Occitanie, France

Holidays in Occitania: the region of Cathar castles

Castles and cities of the Cathar country a few kms from the eco-camping

Our eco-camping located in Ariege, France, is the starting point for many tourist discoveries. The rich natural and cultural heritage of our beautiful Midi-Pyrenees Occitanie region will amaze you.

From our peaceful campsite, follow in the footsteps of the Cathars and visit the many medieval castles and citadels of History and Art: Mirepoix, Carcassonne, Montsegur... The region of the Occitan castles will fascinate you.

The City of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage site

A must in the Midi-Pyrenees Occitanie region, less than an hour from the eco-camping, the City of Carcassonne, a medieval complex unique in Europe, is composed of:

  • a double enclosure,
  • 52 laps,
  • 2 concentric enclosures,
  • a total of 3 kms battlements.

The first enclosure is dated from the Gallo-Roman period, the second from the 11th and 12th centuries and finally, Viollet le Duc restored the whole in the 19th century.

Not to be missed:

  • the Medieval City, a UNESCO World Heritage site,
  • the Carcassonne Festival,
  • knightly combat,
  • the big Saturday morning market...

Montsegur castle

Built in 1206, refuge of the Cathar Church and the "Faidits", Montsegur was a strong place of the 13th century.

On March 16th, 1244, the fortress fell into the hands of the besiegers and the Cathars were forced to renounce their faith or die in the flames of a pyre.

205 of them died there.

Leran castle

The castle of Leran has a 13th and 15th century keep, restored in 1875 and 1883.

The crenels of the keep, the gables of its roofs, its pepperbox turrets, its machicolations and its watchtowers certainly evoke medieval architecture, but it is in reality an "old-fashioned" reconstruction carried out between 1875 and 1883 by Clément Parent, a disciple of Eugène Viollet-Le-Duc.

Inside a large Louis XIII staircase, a fireplace from Mirepoix (former bishopric) and a library on the 2nd floor with woodwork and windows with fireplace are remarkable.

Its traditionally assembled structures are particular to the region; for example, there are "punches" more than seven meters high.

Puivert castle

Among the Cathar castles, Puivert castle is certainly one of the best preserved.

It is also one of the most interesting monuments of the 14th century. With its 35-meter high keep in which four splendid rooms are superimposed, its six defensive towers, this fortress dominates the former glacial lake of Puivert.

Its recently restored keep offers a view of the Quercorb plain to the north, Montsegur to the west in the peaks of the Pyrenees and Bugarach peak to the east.

Lagarde castle

Lagarde castle is located in the French commune of Lagarde, in Ariege, near Mirepoix.

Built in the 11th century by Ramire I of Navarre on a hill overlooking the valley of the Hers-Vif, it was the subject of numerous alterations over the centuries, initially defensive (until the middle of the 16th century), then aimed at transforming it during the 17th century into a splendid pleasure palace.

The castle is built on a square plan: four monumental towers, quadrangular in shape, flank the residential buildings. The complex is surrounded by several enclosures, terraces and successive ditches.

The castle gradually fell into disrepair after the Revolution. From the beginning of the 20th century, only vestiges of its past splendour and grandeur remained.

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Arques castle

The castle is dated from the 12th and 14th centuries, and is composed of an enclosure that surrounds a central square keep of 11 meters side, equipped with turrets at each of its corners.

In 1231, the Termes family was dispossessed of this castle for the benefit of a former lieutenant of Simon de Montfort, Pierre de Voisins.

At the end of the 13th century, his son Gilles de Voisins rebuilt the village in the form of a bastide and began building the current castle.

At the beginning of the 14th century, the castle still housed a small Cathar community.

Foix castle

The origin of the castle dates back to the 10th century.

The capture of the castle at the end of the 15th century led to the destruction of the fortifications, the advanced structures, the surrounding walls and the filling of the cisterns.

The castle was rebuilt in 1741 by the Count of Segur, Governor of the Foix region.

When Château de Foix was used as a jail, a building was built leaning against the north tower.

Around 1820, restoration and expansion of the departmental prison. The castle consisted of three towers:

  • the north tower contained the dungeon,
  • the central tower would date from the 10th century,
  • the southern one, with a circular plan, would be from the 12th century. A corbelled platform completes it.

The interior is on four floors, vaulted in the shape of a cloister arch, each lit by a large crossroads.

City of Mirepoix and its bastide

In the heart of the Cathar Pyrenees, not to be missed near the eco-camping: the city of Mirepoix.

Located a few kilometers from La Serre, the bastide of Mirepoix will welcome you in all seasons. In the heart of the Cathar Pyrenees, the city is labelled a Land of Art and History.

You can observe its 15th century cutlery and superb half-timbered houses on wooden galleries.

Attractive, Mirepoix offers many activities from April to November:

  • Medieval days,
  • puppet festival,
  • creatitudes Art craftmen,
  • apple celebration...

Not to be missed:

  • the big Monday morning market!
  • the major medieval festivals, the 3rd weekend of July

Saint-Maurice of Mirepoix Cathedral

Nine years after the Mirepoix flood of Saturday June 16th, 1289, the former Benedictine church on the left bank of the Hers river was restored and enlarged.

On May 6th, 1298, Jean 1er de Lévis and Constance de Foix laid the first stone on this site and inaugurated the new parish church of Saint-Maurice.

In 1317, Pope John XXII established the new diocese of Mirepoix as a bishopric. By the width of its single nave (22 m), it ranks first in France and second in Europe.

We can admire:

  • the Gothic bell tower and porch,
  • as well as a Christ on the cross (14th century),
  • keystones, two of which are particularly noteworthy,
  • the great organs of German construction,
  • and the richly carved pulpit (16th century).

Rock church of Vals

Strange and very beautiful sanctuary of the middle valley of the Hers, the church of Vals is a unique curiosity of its kind.

This is undoubtedly one of the oldest monuments in Ariege, since the site itself has left Bronze Age remains and a Gallic and Gallo-Roman sacrificial repository.

The church is built in a cave thanks to a diaclase partially reinforced by a stone structure. In the past, the opening of the cave was free, while today a wall hides its entrance.

Twenty-three steps follow to reach level 1 of the sanctuary, which is a mixture of natural rock and masonry construction.

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