Visiting the Ariège is an opportunity to go back in time to the Middle Ages, to discover the Cathar sites and castles that have marked the history of France. By staying at the Grottes campsite near Tarascon-sur-Ariège, you can easily reach the many Cathar castles in the Ariège.
Catharism in the Middle Ages in Occitania
Although short, the history of the Cathars has deeply affected Occitania. The origins of Catharism date back to around the year 1000 in a tumultuous religious context due to the abuse of power and money. In reaction to these abuses, new religious doctrines emerged in the Middle Ages, including Catharism, which quickly spread throughout the territory. This new religion, which rejected all the sacraments of the Catholic Church, was frowned upon by the Pope and the King of France. This led to the crusades against the heretics.
The Cathar castles in Ariège
In order to better understand the role of the Cathar castles in Ariège, many sites await you to immerse yourself in the history and heritage of Occitania.
The castle of Miglos
Situated only 5 minutes away, the castle of Miglos is the closest to the campsite Des Grottes as well as to other historical sites in Ariège such as the famous Grotte de Niaux. Although it cannot be visited, you can still walk around the ruins and admire the breathtaking view.
The castle of Foix
A key place in the history of the Cathars, the castle of Montsegur welcomed a growing number of followers to the point of becoming the capital of the Cathar Church in 1232. Perched at an altitude of over 1200 metres, you can reach it in 40 minutes.
The castle of Montsegur
Lieu déterminant dans l’histoire des cathares, le châteaux de Montségur accueillait un nombre grandissant de fidèles jusqu’au point de devenir en 1232 la capitale de l’Eglise Cathare. Perché à plus de 1200 mètres d’altitude, vous pourrez le rejoindre en 40 minutes.
The castle of Roquefixade
Perched on the heights, the castle of Roquefixade offers magnificent views only 30 minutes from the campsite Des Grottes. The site is freely accessible.
The Castle of Lagarde
Once called "La garde de Mirepoix", the castle of Lagarde is now better known as : "The Versailles of the Pyrenees". It is one of the castles to have undergone numerous modifications over the centuries, which has gradually erased its feudal style in favour of a classical style.
The castle of Usson
Situated on the border with the Aude, this is the furthest castle from the Grottes campsite (near Tarascon), as it takes no less than an hour and a half to reach it. It is nevertheless interesting to visit it and discover it on its rocky spur culminating at nearly 1000 metres high. In order to better understand this Cathar site, you can visit the heritage museum installed in the old stables with an exhibition area of 700 m².