On the border of the Corbières region, where the Pyrenean mountain chain begins, lie the mysterious Cathar castles. From the 12th to 13th centuries, Catharism was entrenched in the region, a sect that shunned conventional Christianity and materialism. The crusades against the people of Languedoc in southern France lasted for more than forty years and effectively ended the Cathar reign. Whilst many of the castles have since been destroyed or built over, a few good examples remain. From the beautifully preserved walled town of Carcassonne, pedal via the Canal du Midi across southern Languedoc, passing through gorges and classic villages to reach Cathar castles such as Peyrepertuse, Termes and Quéribus. Visit Limoux, producers of the original champagne, the spa town of Rennes-les Baines and the Galamus Gorge.
Arrival in Carcassonne. Go quickly to your hotel to check in. Then go for a walk through the old center, looking for the castle, the double walls surrounding the town, St. Nazaire Cathedral, the narrow streets with brick paving full of shops or one of the many museums.
The first part along the umbrageous Canal du Midi, the 17th cent masterpiece of architect Pierre Riquet, is flat. After Capendu there is a steep climb, but on top of the ‘col’ a magnificent view of the rough Corbières awaits you. Through the great Gorge d’Alsou you go on to the fantastic medieval abbey town Lagrasse. Be sure to visit here the Benedictine Abbey Sainte-Marie l’Orbieu, founded in 799.
Challenge: 49km, 425m ascent
Here in the hills of the Corbières you can choose between two routes. Either south along the Orbieu river and the Cathar Castle Termes with its spectacular views or via the charming Villerouge-Termenès where in 1321 the last ‘Bonhomme’ of the Cathars died at the stake. Both tours unite again and follow a route through a wonderful gorge with quiet villages.
Challenge: 40 or 45km, 500/630m ascent
There’s a lot to do in the neighbourhood of the pleasant wine village Cucugnan. You’re just a short distance away from Quéribus and Peyrepertuse, two of the most spectacular Cathar castles. And to make the choice more difficult: you can also make a more streneous, but sensational tour through the Gorge de Galamus, which is without any doubt the most beautiful gorge in this part of France.
Challenge: 45km, 800m ascent
Today are scheduled: wonderful views, charming villages and a river to swim in. Cycle in the shade from Peyrepertuse along the Pic de Bugarach: an impressive, monolithic rock formation. The last 10 kms to Sougraine, in the Sals valley, go down or are flat. Are you going to enjoy the pool or are you going on to the pleasant spa Rennes-les-Baines (6 km).
Challenge: 39km, 875/550m ascent
You cycle on, after a short climb, on quiet and flat roads. Visit, if possible, Rennes-le-Chateau to solve the mystery of Berenger Saunière. And don’t forget to visit the 16th cent Chateau de Ducs de Joyeuse in Couiza. Continue your trip along undulating vineyards and dreamy wine villages and taste on your way a ‘Blanquette’ or ‘Crémant’. You finish in Limoux, the home of the original champagne, where a ‘gastronomic’ table has been booked for you.
Challenge: 40km, 550m ascent
Today one more short, conclusive trip to Carcassonne, it’s the end of your journey.
Challenge: 28km, 300m ascent
6 nights included
2/3 Star Hotels and charming B&B'S
Tourist tax included
Breakfast included every morning & 3 dinners during the trip
Maps and tourist information on all the places of interest
Winora Santiago, 21 Speed
The bikes come with pannier, handlebar bag, spare tube, tools, pump, helmet and lock
ELECTRIC BIKE RENTAL
Sinus Tria, made by Staiger
The bikes come with pannier, spare tube, tools, pump, helmet and lock
24/7 Bilingual Emergency hotline
Luggage transport to your next hotels
You can park your car in a parking garage ("Parking cité Porte Narbonnaise") in Carcassonne. Costs: € 20,- per week.
GPS tracks are available on request
The airport of Carcassonne is served by several low cost airlines.
From Paris to Carcassonne(approx. 7h15 - 770 km/480 mi). Acces to driving routes see the website ViaMichelin.