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The Cathar Way - the Sentier Cathare - is a popular, well-waymarked trail which links several of the world-famous 'Cathar castles' of south-west France. A challenging, fascinating and rewarding route, it is not an arduous mountain trek. The trail runs for about 250 kilometres, from the Mediterranean coast, westward to the historic town of Foix. It can be walked in two weeks or less by anyone who is well-equipped and moderately fit. Good-quality accommodation is available at regular intervals along the entire length of the trail. The trail traverses the dramatic foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, a beautiful countryside which enjoys plenty of sunshine and which is rich in wildlife. The highlights of the Cathar Way are the 'castles in the sky' like Queribus, Peyrepertuse and Montsegur. These incredible medieval fortifications will forever be associated with the ill-fated Cathar 'heresy', which was brutally suppressed in the thirteenth century.
Route Map Key Location Map Map of Stages and Cathar Castles En Route Map of Administrative Departments INTRODUCTION The Sentier Cathare, 'the most celebrated footpath in France' The Cathars Cathar History Cathar Castles The Cathar Region The Sentier Cathare, Port-la-Nouvelle to Foix Origin and Character of the Trail Waymarking and Route-finding Changes to the Route Castles and Other Features of Interest Getting There Getting Around Accommodation How to Use This Guide Planning a Trek Along the Cathar Way Route Summary Stocking Up Maps Weather Equipment and Water Risks THE SENTIER CATHARE Stage 1 Port-la-Nouvelle to Durban-Corbieres Stage 2 Durban-Corbieres to Tuchan Stage 3 Tuchan to Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse Stage 4 (Main Route) Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse to Prugnanes Stage 4 (North Variant) Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse to Camps-sur-l'Agly Stage 5 (Main Route) Prugnanes to Puilaurens Stage 5 (North Variant) Camps-sur-l'Agly to Bugarach Stage 5 Link from North Variant to Main Route Stage 6 (Main Route) Puilaurens to Quirbajou (or Labeau) Stage 6 (North Variant) Bugarach to Quillan Stage 7 (Main Route) Quirbajou (or Labeau) to Puivert Stage 7 (North Variant) Quillan to Puivert Stage 8 Puivert to Espezel (or Belvis) Stage 9 Espezel (or Belvis) to Comus Stage 10 Comus to Montsegur Stage 11 Montsegur to Roquefixade Stage 12 Roquefixade to Foix Final Thoughts APPENDIX 1 Accommodation and Further Information APPENDIX 2 Taxi Services APPENDIX 3 Some Suggestions for the Future Development of the Sentier Cathare APPENDIX 4 Other Long-distance Paths in the Cathar Region APPENDIX 5 Useful Publications APPENDIX 6 Useful Addresses and Websites
Alan Mattingly was Director of the Ramblers' Association in Britain from 1974 to 1998. A member of the Outdoor Writers' Guild, he received that organisation's Golden Eagle Award in 1998. His previous publications include Tackle Rambling (1981), Walking in the National Parks (1982) and Walking in the Cathar Region (Cicerone, 2005). He is now based in Vernet-les-Bains, in the eastern Pyrenees, where he has spent recent years exploring in detail country where the famous Cathar castles of southern France are located. "Their history," he says, "is full of drama and mystery. It is as fascinating as the landscape in which it all took place."
This handy guide has clear instructions for the stages of the trail along with points of interest, maps and an accommodation listing. In keeping with Cicerone's walking series, the guide is well laid out with colour photographs and an easily digestible insight into the history of the area. Indispensible for walkers visiting the area. Rating 9/10. France Magazine, August 2006