Soul Journeys - walking in the footprints of the Cathars

Walking holiday with both guided and self-guided options in France

From € 270.- / 8 days

Price per person based on 2 people sharing a double room self-catering in a fully equipped gîte. Includes 3 guided day trips to 4 Cathar castles. Other options are available.

  • Dogs welcome
  • GPS tracks available
  • One accommodation
  • Walking holiday with guided and self-guided options
  • Three walkers on the top of a rocky hill
  • A stone castle on top of a rock
  • People posing on an eagle-view terrace

Based just 25 minutes south of Carcassonne in the sleepy village of Escueillens, Soul Journeys offers guided and self-guided walking holidays through the gently rolling Razès countryside and up some of the most celebrated and breath-taking Cathar castles in Occitanie.

This holiday offers walkers a wide choice of trails through the gently rolling Razès and up steep peaks in the Corbières and Pyrenees to visit some of the renowned Cathar castles. Best suited for individuals, couples or small groups (max 10), our Cathar Specials include among others: Carcassonne, Montsègur, Peyreperteuse, Quèribus and Rennes-le-Château. For us, the most important factors of your holiday are that you choose your own routes (for distance and difficulty) and walk at your own pace.

Discounts for single walkers apply. Picnic lunch boxes are available as well as airport transfer to and from Carcassonne.

Woman posing on a track, a castle in the background The extensive remains of an old castle seen from above

Accommodation in the Razès

There are three gîtes at the Razès – Soujeole, Corbières and La Cour du Blé. Soujeole and Corbières are suitable for singles or couples; La Cour du Blé can accommodate a further 2 to 4 people. Each has its own private entrance, parking, fully equipped kitchen, dining and lounge areas, double bedroom(s) and bath or shower room. You can rent one or all three if you want to house a larger group travelling together.

Each gîte has a double bedroom, bath or shower room, well equipped kitchen, dining and lounge area with TV, DVD and CD player. Full linen and towels are provided at no extra charge. A wide library of books, music and films is also available. The gîtes have heating for those who prefer to sojourn outside the summer months.

Entrance of the gite from the terrace Gite entrance Bedroom

Our extensive range of detailed road and walking maps are kept in the grange. A meditation and yoga room is available for use and instruction is optional.

The grange is a great place to meet, eat and get together, offering respite from the summer sun or snug comfort from the wood burner in winter. There are cooking & BBQ facilities here, table-tennis and darts, boules and board games and a washing machine. There are three secluded gardens perfect for outdoor dining or relaxation.

Jo & Bob live in the adjoining property and are only too happy to help with any queries you may have.

Lagarde castle seen from afar Two women on a track in the winter

If you are hiring a car and wish to explore the local area, your hosts are very happy to give recommendations and make reservations on your behalf. If you've already made your own plans or simply don't want to make any, then you'll be left tranquil in your own peace and space. If you don’t want to hire a car, we can organise airport transfers and trips to the local shops, castles and markets.

Walking in the Razès and across the Cathar hills

The Razès is a canton (rural area) in the Aude département of the Languedoc Roussillon region and is about 90 km inland of the French Mediterranean coast and 90 km north of the Pyrenees. Rich in its Occitan heritage, the clocher-mur style churches is a common characteristic of the rural villages.

A castle in the sunset light Castle on the top if a high hill

The Razès is famed for its birds of prey and wild orchids as well as its beautiful, rolling landscape decorated with hills and dales, valleys and peaks, rivers and streams. The Razès generally offers easy to moderate terrain.

The Aude is also home to the majority of the Cathar castles. Depending on the time of year, walkers will typically pass alongside vineyards and fields of sunflower, poppies or barley and over rocky garrigue (scrub) outcrops, through country lanes and woods, past farms and crop fields, hamlets and villages.

People walking on a path uphill church seen over a field of sunflowers

On the Cathar trails, you tend to go up steep hills, through heavily wooded forests, and around sheer cliff tops. Wherever you walk, you tread in the footsteps of the Cathars and, as such, you breathe their lingering message of martyrdom and freedom from the land itself.

Razès walking holiday itinerary

Below is a selection of example walks. Please contact the holiday provider for a personalised itinerary.

Le Tour du Roquefixade (8 km circuit) - One of the shorter Cathar walks leading around and up to Roquefixade castle itself, the sister castle to Montségur. This tour offers some of the most impressive vistas looking out south to the majestic Pyrenees looming up at 3000 metres. Leaving the village, the path meanders along open meadows and farmlands, climbs up through ancient woodlands, down steep rocky slopes and emerges on craggy mountain sides offering views of the Pyrenees, Montségur castle, memorials to the Résistance, ruins and shepherd huts as well as looking back on the village of Roquefixade itself. Beautiful in its variety and impressive in its outlook, it’s a popular Cathar castle.

Women posing for a picture in the forest Peyreperteuse castle seen from below againste a blue sky

Cathar Trail to Montségur (16 - 20 km circuit) - You may wish to follow the Sentier des Tisserands (20 km) which is a circuitous loop leading up and down the Cols surrounding Montségur, perhaps the most famous of all the Cathar castles, following the historic Cathar trails through centuries-old forests which simply ooze with tranquillity and well-being, emerging to provide stunning views of the Montagne Noire and Corbières mountain ranges.

The above two castles and/or walks can be combined together for a full day of walking.

Sun rising from behind a mountain range in reds and oranges Inside a castle on top of Montsegur hill

Les Tours de Rennes-le-Château (8 km or 12 km circuits) - In the Pays de Couiza, there are many Cathar routes to choose from, some passing through ancient woodlands, others following trails over the open scrublands across the terres rouges (red lands), characteristic of the scenery in these parts as popularised by Kate Mosse in her novels. Both options start in the small town of Couiza: one path meanders up through fairly steep, heavily scented and wooded forests to reach the castle via the Tour Magdala; the other path heads out into the gently climbing hills and fields of the terres rouges, passing shepherd huts dotted in the garrigue (scrub) lands and the impressive red-pink ruins of Coustaussa which afford wonderful views of Rennes-le-Château.

Castle Puilaurens on a rocky hilltop Two hikers posing for a photo, a beautiful mountain landscape in the background

Les Tours de Lastours (4 km, 5.5 km or 17 km options) - Moving up past Carcassonne into the Minervois, the terrain is characterized by garrigue-clad hills and vast sloping vineyards for kilometres around.

Starting from the village of Lastours, the shortest of the walking options takes you through a sheer rocky valley, alongside streams, following ancient Cathar trails into the woods and through olive groves to a belvedere for a fabulous view of Lastours. Continuing through woods, you emerge at the foot of the four towers in the old village.

The longest circuit takes the walker up the steep hills behind Lastours over open hilltop fields, through silent woods and small hamlets, up to high viewing points for great views of the Pyrenees, Narbonne, the Mediterranean, Carcassonne and offers marvelous views of the castles from a different angle which can’t be seen by car. Moving down the garrigue slopes, the track joins the GR36 bringing you to the impressive Grotte du Limousin (cave). It’s worth a visit if you have time. A wonderful walk with many stunning views, ever changing scenery and thousands of butterflies thanks to the abundance of thanks to the wild thyme, lavender and rosemary.

Combine this walk with a visit to the largest fortified castle in Europe, the famed Carcassonne itself.

Montsegur castle seen from below walking track leading through a low mountain landscape

Dates and availability

Soul Journeys guided and self-guided walking holidays based from the Razès Gîtes are available all-year round - come in the season that best suits you!

You can choose whether you want to come for 7 or 5 days, a long weekend or a month if it suits! You choose how long you wish to stay for and on which days of the week you plan to arrive and depart.

ruins of caste on hillside Rocky mountain in a pointed shape

You can come on your own, with a partner or friend, safe in the knowledge you have the privacy and space of your own gîte. You will be able to go for your guided walks at hours and times that suit you, assured that you will not be forced to participate in a larger group.

If you wish to come and walk as a small group, combining the resources of all 3 gîtes together, the Razès Gîtes can accommodate a maximum of 10 people.

Typically, for two people sharing a self-catering gîte for 8 days costs with 3 Cathar castle day trips included: €540 in Winter; €640 in Spring & Autumn; €695 in Summer. Check our website for B&B and Half/Full-board options.

The number of walks you do is entirely up to you. If you want to walk every day, simply choose your circuits and you will be guided by Jo or self-guided if you prefer. If you want to walk every other day and have a rest day in between, the tranquil gardens offer you a beautiful space within which to relax and unwind.

Pair of walkers huged on a track Fields of yellow rapeseed flowers

Please contact the holiday provider, through the contact form, for more information.

Additional information

Price of this walking holiday

  • Self-catering from €270 per person for 8 days
  • B&B from €305 per person for 8 days
  • Half-board from €745 per person for 8 days
  • Full-board from €805 per person for 8 days (includes a picnic lunch)

Extras

  • Discounts for single walkers apply!
  • Airport transfers to and from Carcassonne are available.
  • Picnic lunch boxes can be arranged.

Please contact the holiday provider, through the contact form, for more information.


WALKING_HOLIDAY

Holiday type

One accommodationWalking holiday with guided and self-guided options
Walking holiday with both guided and self-guided options
Board basis: Self-catering prices are quoted. B&B is also available at €5 per person per day. Half-board & full-board options are also available for a minimum of 4 people.

Price

From € 270.- / 8 days

Price per person based on 2 people sharing a double room self-catering in a fully equipped gîte. Includes 3 guided day trips to 4 Cathar castles. Other options are available.

  • Dogs by prior arrangement
  • GPS tracks available

Included in the self-catering option

- 7 nights accommodation in a fully equipped gîte,
- morning & afternoon tea/coffee,
- welcome drink and briefing sessions,
- wide range of walks & maps available, self-guided or guided options,
- unlimited local walks in the Razès countryside,
- 3 days guided walks and visits to 4 Cathar castles (admission fees included).

Optional extras

- Continental breakfast,
- Picnic lunch,
- Half - board,
- Airport transfer,
- Guided walks and visits to the famous Cathar castles,
- Hatha yoga sessions,
- In gîte massage,
- On site wine-tasting.

Not included

All other costs, including travel costs to the starting-point of this holiday.

Walking holiday reference

WH-SGG-FRSJ02


Walking grade

Walking holiday in hills only
  • Hills
  • Easy walking
Walking holiday in hills to low mountains
  • Hills to low mountains
  • Easy to moderate walking
Walking holiday in low to high mountains
  • Low to high mountains
  • Moderate walking

Remarks

  • Dogs by prior agreement. Tailor-made walking possible

Best time of the year

April - October


Walking Holiday by:

Soul Journeys

Jo and Bob Norton

souljourneys.co.uk

Contact details

Languages spoken

English, French

Getting there

  • Carcassonne Airport (22 mi)
  • Béziers Airport (63 mi)
  • Toulouse Airport (63 mi)
  • Perpignan Airport (75 mi)
  • Carcassonne Train station (23 mi)
  • Bram Train station (13 mi)
  • Castelnaudary Train station (16 mi)

Note: Hire car is best for those who want a self-catering option since the village is remote and the nearest shops are 7km away. The nearest town for restaurants is 15km.


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