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The perfect country

Discovering the Cathar Pyrenees

Pyrenees Cathares, two words evocative of nature and culture. If we dared, we’d tell you that all roads lead to us. At the climatic confluence between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, at the gateway to the Pyrenees and just off the plain, our rolling, verdant landscapes evoke an oasis where you can stop off before entering the mountains. Labellisé Pays d’Art et d’Histoire, it’s also a land of strong identity where traces of the Cathar adventure remain.

It's not that far...

What could be easier than coming from Toulouse (1h15) or from Carcassonne (UNESCO site) to spend a few hours or a few days with us? The Cathar Pyrenees are also the gateway to the summits of the Pyrenees, Spain and Andorra. A must-see stopover, it’s sure to make you want to come back. Lovers of both history and nature will be delighted here.

A medieval city dating back to the XIIIᵉ century, Mirepoix, Grand Site d’Occitanie, is renowned for its cutlery. What’s not to stop in front of the “maison des consuls”, whose facade with 104 wooden sculptures is unique in France.

Eager to stroll through one of France’s most beautiful villages? Then it’s to Camon that you’ll stop, to admire an authentic Pyrenean village.

Joy is in the air !

Nature immersion

Eager to get moving? Why not take a cool hike through the Bélesta forest to the Gouffre des Corbeaux. You’ll discover unspoilt nature around the Hers river and in the Frau gorgesand the Bélesta forest. A lover of water and curiosities, the “mystery” of theFontestorbes intermittent fountain won’t leave you indifferent.

The Cathar Pyrenees is also home to the Saint-Barthélemy Massif regional nature reserve. On the northern slopes of the Tabe massif, at an altitude of 2300m, botanists and explorers in short (or long) pants will have the pleasure of studying Pyrenean flora and fauna!

Hiking, water sports, cycling… it’s all there for your enjoyment! And as we’re in the foothills of the Pyrenees, there’s something for every level: from easy to advanced, from lovers of short strolls to enthusiasts of sheer effort…

The whole story...

All our stories!

Human occupation of the Cathar Pyrenees dates back 90,000 years: Neanderthal man (and woman) had already grasped that the place deserved much more than a brief visit. How could we predict that it would later be remembered for a religious tragedy.

In the 13th century, the Albigensian Crusade was launched by the papacy to combat the Cathar heresy, which had taken refuge in Montségur. On March 16, 1244, after a 10-month siege by the crusading army of the Pope and the King of France, the defenders of Montségur surrendered. The stake awaits them: at the foot of the mountain, they will be 225, dead for refusing to recant their faith.

The new French lords, the Lévis-Mirepoix, then set about building new towns, bastides. Fortresses were built with the help or by royal authority: the châteaux of Roquefixade and Montségur would defend the border and the territory coveted by Aragon. The castles of Lagarde and Terride (Mirepoix), built in the 14th century, were more of a seigneurial residence than a military structure. Everywhere, fortifications such as the ramparts of Camon and the Protestant fortress of Castel d’Amont on the heights of Bélesta bear witness to times of war.

But religion has also left its mark on Romanesque, Renaissance and Gothic art. It’s hard not to be moved by the little Church of Vals, adorned with 12th-century frescoes, or by Mirepoix Cathedral and Camon Priory.

In the 19th century, industrialization took over! The economy brought local communities closer together. Catalan-style forges, sawmills and mills were set up along the Touyre and Hers valleys, to take advantage of the driving force of water. From the 19th to the end of the 20th century, the Cathar Pyrenees were home to a veritable textile industry in the Lavelanet basin, as well as the manufacture of horn combs. To find out all about this amazing past, take time out to visit the Textile and Horn Comb Museum. When we say there’s everything to make you happy!!!

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