A Journey of Self Catharsis: Following the Cathars
28 June 2012
Been to the hill towns of Tuscany? Then you ‘ll enjoy discovering the mediaeval "Bastides" of Languedoc.
Our Tarn Abigensian Bastide walk takes you on a journey through the world of the Cathars, an environmentally aware sect who believed that hell existed on earth and heaven could be obtained by doing good works, eating lentils and ignoring the Catholic Church with all its glitz and wealth.
Unfortunately the Pope did not agree and was backed up by the King of France who wanted to expand his dominions towards the Pyrénées. A vicious crusade was unleashed in 1209 and within 50 years the Cathars were massacred or converted, the King or Aragon was killed in battle, the Count of Toulouse was humbled and France greatly enlarged.
On this walk we visit the new towns where the Cathars went as refugees such as Cordes sur Ciel - literally “Cordes in the Sky” due to the way it seems to float above the clouds during temperature inversions - Penne, Bruniquel, Puycelci and Montmiral.
We also suggest an extra day to the beautiful city of Albi. Many of the places played a part in the Hundred Years War and Wars of Religion later on. The beauty and individuality of these hill top citadels is really something to behold and some of the accommodations you’ll stay in date back to the 1200s.
The walking in between the towns threads its way through an uncluttered landscape of hills, vales along riversides, past mediaeval wayfarer’s crosses, through vineyards and the biggest forest in south west France. There are few walkers on the trails and even the beautiful hilltowns don’t get too crowded. Instead of Hell on Earth it is a veritable heaven of hiking and hospitality!
by John Millen, Sherpa Expeditions Tour Leader
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