Mediterranean Coast Cathar Country
From 1420
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7 nights, 7 walking days
Level :
Itinerary : Hotel to Hotel
Holiday code : FP2PUCC
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From Cathar Castles To Mediterranean Collioure

We've been organising walks around the Cathar castles for over 25 years, so you can be sure of a quality experience: the best castles, villages, hotels and paths in a wonderfully wild landscape before arriving at the Mediterranean and the fishing/artists village of Collioure, whose own castle's walls plunge directly into the sea.

A summary of your journey

Whether you are a history buff, interested in the Cathars, or just enjoy the wonderful warm Mediterranean climate walking through exceptionally varied landscapes with castles, unspoilt villages, vineyards and intriguing natural phenomena (gorges, waterfalls, sheer rocky pinnacles, sandy coves "to die for"), then this is for you - especially if you enjoy authentic accommodation and exceptional regional cuisine. Private transfers ensure you only enjoy the best "bits". Alternatively, you can drive to Foix where there is plenty of secure parking, and we will take you back there at the end of the holiday.
This holiday includes daily private transfers, some of them quite long, and this adds considerably to the quality, enjoyment and the cost of the holiday, so that it cannot be compared with prices for any apparently similar holidays.

The Plus Points

  • Transfers from and to Toulouse or Perpignan (others available)
  • Luggage transfers every day so you only carry a daysack
  • High quality, original hotels with dinner included
  • 24/7 customer service

Day 1

Arrival at Foix
We meet you at Toulouse or Perpignan airport or station (express trains from Paris), and, should time allow, we take you to your first Cathar stronghold, Roquefixade, where you can enjoy climbing to the top of the castle for its panoramic views dominated by the Ariege peaks all around before enjoying a warm up walk nearby. By car, you can drive directly to Foix, or, if you have time, you can also visit Roquefixade.
You spend your first night at the three star Hôtel Restaurant Lons right in the historic centre of Foix, close to the castle, and right beside the Ariege river. This is a most welcoming, family run hotel that balances contemporaneity with tradition as is nowhere more evident than in its atmospheric and highly rated restaurant (eat overlooking the river). In the best sense, this is what hotel-restaurants in France used to be like - and too few are these days.

Day 2

Foix - Montségur - Puivert
We provide a transfer (to ensure you enjoy only the best "bits") so you have a marvellous walk with fantastic views, historic landscapes, and tranquillity all the way (but no great ascents or descents) to the spectacular site of Montségur. When you see its remarkably secure site, it is easy to understand how this was the last stronghold of the Cathar "rebels" - holding out for 10 months in 1244, then many being burnt alive for refusing to renounce their faith. You descend through a maze of alleyways into the village, and can visit its small, but high quality, museum before we transfer you to Puivert.
Puivert is a lovely village with its own lake and sandy beach deep in the Cathar countryside, and right on the Cathar walking path, the GR7. The Petit Verger (The Little Orchard) is a well run and most welcoming 5 room chambres d'hôtes. The rooms are large, the facilities en suite, the private gardens and woodland delightful, and the food superb in its authentic, rural style. Again, it is the sort of place that is hard to find - and a joy when it is done as well as this.
Walking time : 3h or 5h. Distance : 6,5km or 15km. Elevation : + 350m or + 800m / - 350 or - 400m. Transfer time : 1h30.

Day 3

Puivert - "Green Labyrinth" - Quillan
Today starts with a visit to Puivert's chateau, one of the best preserved, and, consequently, most interesting in the region. From there paths take you around wooded hilltops before walking through a most strange (but entirely natural) "green labyrinth" of rocks and trees. You then continue on the GR7 all the way to the ancient and attractive riverside town of Quillan, or you can choose a transfer to save the last few miles.
You stay at the impressive three star Hôtel La Chaumière right in the centre of Quillan, so perfect for a stroll and aperitif before dinner, which offers highly evolved versions of traditional regional specialities. Not just interesting, but good too.
Walking time : 3h or 4h30. Distance : 10km or 17km. Elevation : + 200m or + 350m / - 100m or - 650m. Transfer time : 15 minutes.

Day 4

Quillan - Puilaurens - Gorges de Saint Jaume - Caudies de Fenouillèdes
We transfer you this morning to the remarkably well preserved castle of Puilaurens, which certainly saved the lives of many fleeing Cathars as it was protected from Crusader attack by being Aragonese property. From there you walk through interesting countryside to contrasting Fenouillet: its Cathar castle impressive but ruined, its tiny village completely restored, and much praised. You now walk through the "secret", and surprisingly narrow, Gorges de Saint Jaume with its overhanging rocks, wooden bridges, waterfalls, and sense of history almost hanging in the air. Soon after you pass through woods and vineyards to arrive at the charming 15th century pilgrimage chapel of Notre Dame de Laval, and then your destination for today, the pleasant and characteristically rural village of Caudies de Fenouilledes.
You stay in the charmingly simple converted winery that is the Relais de Laval. It offers a welcoming ambience, and a gastronomic tour of Roussillon cuisine, which includes elements from the north (foie gras), the west (cassoulet), the east (shellfish), and the south (Catalan stews etc) - not forgetting the local wines, and particularly the aromatic aperitif Muscat.
Walking time : 4h30. Distance : 11,5km. Elevation : + 300m / - 600m. Transfer time : 30 minutes.

Day 5

Caudies - Gorges de Galamus - Peyrepertuse - Cucugnan
You start today with a transfer to the spectacular Gorges de Galamus - huge cliffs almost touching in parts, houses built into and under rock faces, a beautiful, fast flowing river (a favourite with canyoneers), and the wonderfully located, carved out hermitage of Saint-Antoine. In complete contrast, you then walk through the high altitude "garrigue" (typical Mediterranean low level, soft leaved shrubs and small trees) under vast blue skies (usually!) to arrive at the magnificent eleventh century castle (two castles actually) of Peyrepertuse, called a "ship in the sky" because it seems to sail across the plateau surrounding it. You can now choose a transfer, or walk down to Cucugnan.
You stay at the charming, four bedroom, two star Auberge du Vigneron (winemaker), which is an excellent example of an authentic restaurant with rooms as the food and wines are undoubtedly the stars of the show here. Expect to be surprised by the quality, innovation, style and taste of the dishes you will enjoy here. It's the perfect antidote to flashy, expensive city restaurants!
Walking time : 5h or 6h30. Distance : 15km or 19km. Elevation : + 750m / - 350m or - 850m. Transfer time : 30 minutes.

Day 6

Cucugnan - Queribus - Collioure
You begin the day with a very pleasant 2 hour stroll along the GR7, Cathar footpath, to "inaccessible" Queribus, one of the last refuges of the Bonnes Hommes, which provides an inspiring view of the blue, blue Mediterranean from its imperious, lone peak situation. This is appropriate as we then transfer you to that Mediterranean at the unforgettable fishing and artists' village of Collioure. You can simply stroll around the colourful village, explore its castle (one last castle, this one where the sea laps its foundations) and museum discovering more about Braque, Matisse and Picasso (among others) who all painted here, or you can take one of several walks that follow paths up through vineyards then back along the cove packed coastline with sandy beaches for a welcoming swim.
You stay at the three star boutique Hôtel Mas des Citronniers in the centre of the village, a short stroll from the water's edge and set in its own extensive gardens. You dine in one of our favourite restaurants in the village.
Walking time : 2h. Distance : 4km. Elevation : + 400m / - 100m. Transfer time : 1h30.

Day 7

Collioure - Banuyls
This is certainly a memorable last day walking along this most attractive - and surprisingly unspoilt - section of the coast where the Pyrenees descends to meet the Mediterranean resulting in vine covered hillsides, views up to the Pyrenees, dominated by the 8,500 feet Mount Canigou, and a "scrunched up" coastline filled with small, and some tiny, coves and creeks, many with overhanging trees and flowering bushes, sandy beaches, and beckoning turquoise waters, not least the rather larger Paulilles beach. You pass by an old windmill, the fort at St Elme, and walk out onto Cape Béar and Cape Ullastret before arriving, reluctantly perhaps, at Banyuls sur Mer, the traditional Mediterranean destination for an Atlantic-Mediterranean walk.
Your last night is spent at the beachside three star Hôtel Les Elmes with its stylish rooms, most with sea views, and gourmet restaurant on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. It's a wonderful place to end your journey, and the food is good too.
Walking time : 4h30. Distance : 13km. Elevation : + 500m / - 500m.

Day 8

End of stay
After a relaxing, and perhaps somewhat melancholy, breakfast on the terrace, we transfer you to Perpignan, Toulouse, or to collect your car in Foix.
Transfer time : 1h or upto 2h30m.
This is an independent, self-guided holiday.
  • Practical details
  • Equipment
  • Formalities, Health

PROGRAM OF DEPARTURES

1 April to 31 October

MEETING POINT

Meeting you at, and taking you back to, the airport or station at Perpignan or Toulouse is included in the price. By car, you drive to Foix.

END OF STAY

At the end of the holiday, we return you to Toulouse or Perpignan within the price, or elsewhere as arranged and for a supplement.

LEVEL

This holiday features comfortable rather than challenging walking, and is suitable for anybody who enjoys "a good walk". On most days there are choices of itineraries, which you can decide for yourselves each day. It can get hot in July and August, as well as much more crowded, but the temperatures are moderated by the mountains and sea breezes. We would recommend May, June and September as the best months.

GUARANTEED DEPARTURE FROM (PERS)

2

LUGGAGE TRANSPORTATION

We will transfer your luggage between each hotel, so all you need to carry when walking is a daysack with whatever you regard as essentials.

SUPERVISION

This is an independent, self-guided holiday.

ACCOMMODATION

You stay in double or twin rooms for 4 nights in three star hotels, and one night in a particularly good two star hotel, and 2 nights ion high quality chambres d'hôtes.

MEALS

You will eat well. Dinners are based on set menus featuring regional specialities usually with 3 or 4 choices for each of three courses, but you can pay locally for upgraded choices. Breakfast is included every morning, but picnics are not as there are no shops or cafes/restaurants en route - and you can always ask the hotel the night before to make a picnic, which you can pay for locally.

TRANSFERS

Usually transfers are in people carriers, mini-buses, cars or taxis. Often they will be exclusively for you.

CONTENTS OF YOUR TRAVEL FOLDER

When we have received your balance of payment for your holiday, and in the month before departure, we send you all the documentation you need: detailed itinerary showing dates, times, contact details etc; a detailed guide to your walking route (with options) and lots of cultural, historical and nature background information; formal documents (invoices, contracts etc); luggage labels etc. If you book at the last minute, we can send this information to your first night hotel.

To make the right choice

Have a look at our detailed explanations on the types of hiking, the standards of accommodation, and understand baggage transport ... How to choose your trip ?

LUGGAGE 

  • A soft travel bag, avoid suitcases, which are more cumbersome and limit the weight of your belongings to 10 kg.
  • A small backpack of 30 litres minimum for your daytime requirements.

CLOTHES 

  • A waterproof and breathable jacket (Gore-Tex type)
  • A fleece or a sweater
  • A raincoat (poncho)
  • Walking trousers
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 hat
  • Shorts
  • A bathing suit + towel
  • Several pairs of socks (not too large)
  • Underwear
  • 1 pair of trainers
  • Loose clothing for the evening

EQUIPMENT TO BRING 

  • 1 pair of walking shoes that have been used before
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip protection
  • 1 bottle (allow 2 to 3 litres per person per day in summer)
  • A Tupperware type plastic bowl for the picnic + cutlery
  • 1 compass
  • Waterproof map cover (advised)
  • 1 head torch in your rucksack (for safety)
  • 1 survival cover (from a chemist)
  • 1 mobile phone (advised)
  • Camera and why not a novel, your watercolours or other desires...
  • Your identification documents

FORMALITIES

You need to keep your passport with you at all times, and ideally insurance information. You need to make your own arrangements to claim local healthcare. There are requirements in France and Spain for all vehicles to carry safety equipment.
Click on the price that corresponds to your choice.
FromToFrom / to arrival airport
Sun 01/04/2017Tue 31/10/20171 420 €
Sun 01/04/2018Wed  31/10/20181 420 €
 
List of additional options (to select later)
TitleTime periodPrice
Single room sup. / pers. subject to availabilityfrom 01/04/2017 to 31/10/2017285 €
Single room sup. / pers. subject to availabilityfrom 01/04/2018 to 31/10/2018285 €

THE PRICE INCLUDES

6 nights dinner, bed and breakfast, plus one night bed and breakfast; people transfers; luggage transfers; detailed walking instructions; 1:25,000 IGN map; 24/7 customer phone service.

THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

The journey to the start point, and from the finish point, except as specified; lunches; drinks with meals; non-standard menu items; entry fees; personal and travel insurance.
Provided by TransferMate

You can change the itinerary, and receive revised information

Want to change the itinerary? Complete the form below, and we will send you a revised itinerary as soon as possible.

 

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