History and Mystery


History lovers will be enthralled by 2,000 years of history, with two UNESCO classified World Heritage sites at Carcassonne - the stunning medieval Cité with its double wall defence and Paul Riquet’s Canal du Midi, a remarkable 17th century technical achievement, linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

Languedoc Roussillon was once an independent country speaking Occitan (langue d’Oc), ruled in turn by the Romans, the Visigoths, the Saracens and the Francs.  From 1082 to 1207 Carcassonne flourished under the Trencavel dynasty, with trading caravans, troubadours and pilgrims passing by. It was a religiously tolerant area, and many Cathares sought refuge here from the persecution of heretics throughout Europe. All this changed with the arrival of the Inquisition and the Crusaders under the banner of the French King Louis and the Pope, burning Cathares at the stake and destroying towns and cities. Languedoc Roussillon was finally annexed to France.

Today the tragedy of the Cathares can be traced through the haunting remains of mountain top chateaux and villages such as Montségur, Peyrepertuse and Minerve on its craggy gorge.  In contrast, the magnificent abbeys of Fontfroide and Lagrasse are testimony to the rich rewards received for their support against the Cathares.  

On a lighter note, enjoy the traditional Carnivals and Medieval Festivals with their colourful costumes and troubadour music played in abbeys and churches throughout the region.

History of Pays Cathare

‘Holy Blood Holy Grail’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, ‘Labyrinth’ – read the books ? 

Follow the trail of the Holy Grail to mysterious Rennes le Chateau, a small mountain top village situated on the Rose Line in the Pyrenees. It has a long history with many secrets, and the intriguing lifestyle of Abbé Sauniere created an ongoing enigma of hidden treasures and mysteries, inspiring a multitude of novels and theories.

Mystery of Rennes le Chateau

Music by kind permission of:MUSIC OC: www.ocmusic.org