Chemin de Bonhommes & Cathar hideouts

7 Days

We offer this trek April – June and September – October

Want to go solo? We also offer this trek self-guided with handy topo maps and local information with support on the trail for from 3-7 trekking days for groups of 4 or more with different price offers. For flexibility we include evening meals or not as you wish! Please enquire 🙂

Overview

Journey back in time to the rugged landscapes and ancient fortresses of the French Pyrenees, where the echoes of history resonate through centuries. Our adventure invites you to explore the enigmatic world of the Cathars, a medieval religious group whose legacy endures in the region’s valleys and imposing castles.

As you embark on this immersive experience, prepare to be captivated by the tales of bravery and resilience that unfold amidst the backdrop of the Pyrenean mountains. From the mediaeval streets of Foix to the haunting ruins of Roquefixade Castle, each step of your journey will unveil a new chapter in the rich history of the Cathars. 

Join us as we traverse ancient trails, uncover hidden secrets, and immerse ourselves in the culture and traditions of the Cathar stronghold. Whether tracing the footsteps of resistance fighters or exploring hidden caves and tunnels, our adventure promises to ignite your sense of wonder and leave you with a deeper understanding of this fascinating chapter in history.

We offer this trip guided and self-guided. For self guided you will receive a gpx track, notes on the journey, accommodation reservation and baggage transfers as stipulated in the itinerary along with meals as stated.

Itinerary

Your journey begins as you arrive in the charming town of Foix, where medieval streets and towering fortresses set the stage for your adventure into the past. Foix can be reached by train transfer from Toulouse or if you are a group of 4 or more, we can arrange airport pick up. We will meet you at your hotel in Foix at 18:00 for a welcome brief and ‘apero’ with your guide. The hotel is a 5-minute walk from Foix train station. We will discuss packing and kit. After the briefing we will have dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer from Carcassonne or Toulouse is possible as an extra.
Hotel Lons 3* Foix

After breakfast, we venture to the awe-inspiring Chateaux de Foix before setting our sights on the ruins of Chateaux de Roquefixade. Today there are 2 options, one to be transferred to enjoy a leisurely 7km circuit around Roquefixade Castle.

Alternatively, we take a more challenging trek along the Chemin de Bonhommes starting in Montgaillard, revealing the secrets of Roquefixade over 15.5km of rugged terrain. Perched atop a rocky promontory, Roquefixade Castle beckons with tales of mystery and resilience, offering insights into its storied past as a refuge for the Cathars, which you will learn more about during your stay.
Accommodation: Auberge or Hotel at Roquefixade. (B, L,D)

As we bid farewell to Roquefixade, we pay homage to local heroes at the memorial to French resistance fighters before descending through forests and past timeless hamlets frozen in time. A final ascent brings us to the picturesque village of Montferrier, where a charming auberge awaits, nestled amidst the tranquil beauty of the Pyrenees. We continue on a few km further to the majestic Montsegur, locally known as the pog.
Height gain: +774m | Distance: 15.8km. Auberge or gite accommodation (B,L,D)

During our journey, we'll pause to explore the historic Chateaux of Montsegur, a pivotal Cathar stronghold since 1204. The castle witnessed the tragic siege during which over 200 Cathars met their fate, burned at the stake just below its walls. If the museum in Montsegur village is open, we'll delve deeper into its rich history before embarking on the climb to the castle itself.
Following our visit, we'll descend from Montsegur towards Petail, where a steep descent awaits. Our path then winds through pine trees, leading us to the breathtaking Gorge de la Frau, a protected biodiversity site Natura 2000 which is home to nesting projects for majestic birds of prey. We climb up through the impressive gorge before reaching the interestingly situated village of Comus.
Accommodation : Relais Silence du Midi or similar (B,L,D)

We contour around to Prades and then climb up to the village of Montaillou. A book has been written called Montaillou which examines the lives and beliefs of the population of Montaillou, a small village in the Pyrenees at the beginning of the fourteenth century. It is largely based on the Fournier Register, a set of records from the Inquisition which investigated and attempted to suppress the spread of Catharism in the Ariège region from 1318 to 1325, during the reigns of Philip V "the Tall" and Charles IV "the Fair". We continue on to the refuge de Chioula, nestled within a cross-country ski domain.

Refuge de Chioula is open (Jan - March) and Mid-June -October). At times when the refuge de Chioula is not open we will continue walking to Ax les Thermes. Stage to Chioula (13.5 km + 731 m) stage to Ax les Thermes (+500m,17km). Accommodation Refuge de Chioula or Orlu/Ax les Thermes

Today is a rest day in Ax les Thermes where there is the chance to visit the thermal sites and historic monuments as well as the delightful Bains de Couloubret where it is possible to have 1.5hrs in the baths and enjoy the pools on 2 levels and outdoor pool and different jet or jacuzzi areas. It is also possible to reserve massage and other treatments.

https://www.bains-couloubret.com/ You will once more have access to your non trekking luggage. Accommodation : Relais montagnard d’Orlu or hotel in Ax les Thermes +500m, 17km

This morning, we transfer to Tarascon Sur Ariège and take the opportunity to delve deeper into the secrets of the land, exploring hidden tunnels, caves, and Cathar hideouts on a half day walk. Uncover the mysteries that lie beneath the surface by visiting "Spouglas" and cave entrances. Afternoon departures. You may wish to take a tour of the Grotte de Lombrives in addition. One of the legends of the Grotte de Lombrive is the legend of the princess of the Pyrenees. Another legend says that in 1244, Cathar treasures were hidden at the foot of the cave. We will take a final celebratory lunch together and hope you’re left with a sense of the indomitable spirit of the Cathars.

Departures mark the end of an unforgettable journey, leaving you with a newfound appreciation for Cathar history, culture, and the timeless beauty of the French Pyrenees.
We offer departures from Foix or Tarascon sur Ariege train station. Airport pickups and drop offs are possible for a supplement an we can offer this to Toulouse or Carcassonne airports. (B,L)

This trip includes:

  • Accommodation and food as specified in the programme
  • Local transport as per the itinerary
  • Guiding by a qualified International Mountain leader and talk from a local Cathar expert
  • One guide to 10 guests maximum ratio
  • Transfer of bags from location to location

This trip does not include:

  • Flights
  • Insurance
  • Mountain snacks
  • Any additional transport or accommodation needed if you have to leave the group for a medical or fitness reason

Guided and Self-Guided May- October

TRIP DATES AVAILABILITY PRICE SPACE LEFT
July 1, 2024 - July 7, 2024 Available £975
10 Available
May 2, 2025 - May 8, 2025 Available £975
Available

Accommodation

Sample accommodation

Hotel Chalet, Ax les Thermes

Refuge de Chioula 

Relais Silence du Midi, Comus

Le Silence du Midi

Gite d’etape Roquefixade

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Chemin de Bonhommes & Cathar hideouts
From £975
/ Adult