Trekking in the South West of France

If you are a trekking enthusiast, you may have heard of the Sentier Cathare, a historical walking trek that follows the trails between the strongholds of the Cathars in the foothills of the Eastern Pyrénnées.

Here I focus on the other possible trekking path of the GR 36 you may wish to experience also following the trails of the tragic Cathar history between beautiful scenery  (mountains, vineyards, gorges) villages and castles like Chateau de Lastours, Peyrepertuse and the famous wall city of Carcasonne. The many guesthouses (gȋte or chambre d’hôtes) along the way will provide you with a well-deserved rest at the end of the day whilst indulging yourself with tasty local wines and food.

But before we start, who were the Cathars?

Cathars are part of a religious group, which rejected the dogms and faith proned by the Catholic Church. The Cathar movement, which spreads all over the South West of France in the 13th Century quickly became a serious threat for the Catholic Church who eradicated the Cathar with ‘’fire’’ and inquisition strongholds. Today, this network of paths still follows the old trails that the Cathars used to find to retreat in these extraordinary castles of the early 1320s.

Whilst there are many alternatives for walking the GR 36 between the Tarn and Aude departments (see other suggested itenaries), I suggest the itinerary that goes from Pic du Nore to the town of Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet

The 7 day walk is as follows:

Day 1: Pic de Nore-Villegly (6h30)

Day 2: Villegly- Carcasonne (5h30)

Day 3: Carcasonne-Monze (4 hours)

Day 4: Monze-Ribaute (9 hours)

Day 5: Ribaute-Villerouge-Termenès (6h15)

Day 6: Villerouge-Termenès- Mouthoumet (5h30)

Day 7: Mouthoumet- Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet (7h30)

Below are some highlights in order of what you will see on the walk.

Windturbines close to the Pic du Nore in Montserrat.
Windturbines close to the Pic du Nore in Montserrat.
Canal du Midi
Canal du Midi
A well-deserved break at Carcasonne after a 6 hour day walk. (Source: Eva.gugg)
A well-deserved break at Carcasonne after a 6 hour day walk. (Source: Eva.gugg)
Châteaux de Lastours  (Source: Tournasol7)
Châteaux de Lastours (Source: Tournasol7)
Village de Lagrasse listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Village de Lagrasse listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Walking through the vineyards of des Corbières.
Walking through the vineyards of des Corbières.

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