Cathar Crossing

Guided Trail

Code: XLLDW

Print page

Activity types:

  • High Mountains
  • History

Level

  • Hard
More information

Difficulty indicator

Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.

More about difficulty levels

From £999.00 - 7 nights

Book

Prices are per person

Room 1:
Room 2:
Room 3:

Holiday overview

Discover the fascinating story of the last of the Cathars, as you follow their footsteps as they fled from France to Spain, along the path of the Bon Hommes. A time forgotten landscape of legend and great natural beauty will accompany you each day. Enjoy a snapshot of different cultures as you cross from country to country; France, towards Andorra, and lastly, Spain.

Holiday Highlights

  • Cross the Pyrenees from France to Spain, on the path of the Bon Hommes, the last of the Cathars  
  • Unearth the secrets of this ancient trail, meandering amidst the medieval hill-top castles  
  • Explore an undiscovered land of wild mountains, winding paths and breathtaking peaks

What's included

  • 7 nights' Full Board accommodation
  • The services of an experienced local leader
  • All transport and luggage transfers on walking days
  • Group transfers from Toulouse airport to the first night's accommodation in Foix
  • Group transfer from Berga to Barcelona airport

Accommodation

During this holiday you will stay at a number of hotels and guesthouses, on or near the route. Each has been selected for their character, quality, warm welcome and friendly service.

The Hotel Lons in Foix (1 night) was once a coaching inn. Enjoy traditional cuisine with a wealth of regional specialities in the hotel restaurant with its terrace by the river Ariège.

A small family run hotel, where you are assured of a warm welcome, Le Chalet (2 nights) is in Ax les Thermes. The hotel has recently been refurbished, with light and airy rooms, and is renowned for its restaurant.

Look out over the river and the old town of Bellver from the charming, spacious Hotel Bellavista (2 nights). The rooms are basic but comfortable and clean. In the evening there is the possibility to eat on the outside terrace, and there are plenty of communal areas in which to relax.

The Hostal Cal Francisco at Gosol (1 night) is basic, but comfortable and clean. All rooms are en-suite and the welcome from the owners will ensure you enjoy your evening’s stay. This is a small establishment and the menu offered for the evening meal is limited. It will however offer hearty food, from locally sourced produce.

In the centre of Berga, HCC Ciutat de Berga (1 night) is 4-star and offers a little luxury for your final evening’s stay, and your last chance to sample some of the excellent local cuisine.

On occasion we may need to change the accommodation listed above. If this happens, your replacement accommodation will be of the equivalent standard or higher. In the rare instance this is not possible, we will contact you in advance.

Itinerary

Planned Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Toulouse

Transfer from Toulouse to the medieval town of Foix, where you spend the first night. If time allows take time to visit the castle of Count Gaston Fébus or stroll around the medieval city.

Day 2: Montségur to Comus

A coach transfer of 45 minutes will take you to the beginning of today’s walk at Montségur and to meet your leader. You will meet at the Castle where you can enjoy magnificent views of the valleys and mountains around you. You will also enjoy an introduction to Cathar history and legend on your visit to this famous castle, before traversing the spectacular Frau gorges where the Mediterranean influence is more present. A 30 minute coach journey takes you to the spa town of Ax-les-Thermes for the night with its hot springs and thermal baths. (If time allows enjoy a relaxing time in the wellness centre “Les Bains du Couloubret”- 17€ for 2 hours). 9½ miles (15km) with 2,500 feet (750m) of ascent and 1,500 feet (450m) of descent. 4 hours of walking.

Day 3: Ax-les-Thermes to Mérens

Today we take a short train transfer to Mérens and a beautiful walk, giving close-up views of the high mountains of Ariège. Taking shepherds’ paths and forest trails, we reach the high-point of the day with spectacular far-reaching views of the Pyrenean chain. Descending through the meadows and woods surrounding the village of Mérens, we can revive our feet in the natural springs, before taking the short train journey back to Ax-les-Thermes. 8 miles (13km), with 2,650 feet (800m) of ascent and 2,350 feet (700m) of descent. 4½ hours of walking.

Day 4: Porta to Bellver de Cerdanya

Today we take a 40 minute train journey on the famous route to Porté Puymorens and the Mediterranean Pyrenees. From here we begin our ascent to the Portella Blanca (8,257ft above sea level), and the border of France, Andorra and Spain. Crossing into Spain, the landscape changes yet again, as we are greeted by the stunning sight of the Sierra del Cadi. You will be rewarded by beautiful scenery as you cross into Spain. A short transfer from the end of your walk takes you to your hotel. This is the longest day, as you cross the border and it involves a very early start. 14½ miles (23km), with 3,350 feet (1,000m) of ascent and 3,600 feet (1,100m) of descent. 6½ hours of walking.

Day 5: Bellver de Cerdanya

Continuing in the footsteps of the Cathars, our walk continues south, to discover the stunning Sierra de Cadi massif, and on towards the Moixero’s peak. The landscape now has a much more Mediterranean feel to it. 7 miles (11km), with 1,750 feet (525m) of ascent and 1,600 feet (480m) of descent. 5 hours of walking.

Day 6: Baga to Gosol

From Bellver we take a 20 minute transfer to Barga where we begin our walk through the heart of the Cadi-Moxero national park and in the shadows of the emblematic fortress of Pedraforca’s Peak. Our trail ends today at the town of Gosol with its castle, a place of refuge for many Cathars. 9½ miles (15km), with 1,150 feet (350m) of ascent and 4,000 feet (1,200m) of descent. 5 hours of walking.

Day 7: Fumanya to Berga

The final chapter in this legendary journey leads us from Fumanya (after a short transfer from Gosol to Fumanya), to the Cathar sanctuary of Queralt, the ‘balcony of Catalonia’, and through the Mediterranean forest to Berga, where we can toast the life and legend of the “Bon Hommes”, and enjoy the final section of our journey. 9½ miles (15km), with 1,400 feet (420m) of ascent and 2,900 feet (870m) of descent. 4½ hours of walking.

Day 8: Departure Day

Free time in Berga before your transfer to Barcelona airport which takes just over an hour.

The itinerary may be subject to change at the discretion of the leader with regard to the weather and other external factors 

Local area

Foix Castle

Perched on top its 'pog', the castle dominates the town. In centuries past, the castle controlled access to the high Ariège river valley, and watched over the surrounding countryside. Dependent on flight times, a visit to the castle may be possible on the first evening, or before departure for your walk on the second day.

Couloubret Roman Baths

The thermal waters in Ax les Thermes have been exploited for their medicinal qualities for many years, but in 2009 a luxury Roman Baths (Le Couloubret) was opened with its jacuzzi, sauna, frigidariam (very chilly pool), steam room and outside relaxation pools. There is time during the two evenings that you spend in the town to relax and enjoy these facilities. They are open every evening except for Sundays, and cost approx. €15 for 2 hours. The perfect end to your walking day.

Should you wish for a more authentic experience, there are also public spa baths next to the Couloubret.

Gosol Municipal Museum (Picasso Room)

This room holds a collection of replicas of the compositions that Picasso made during his stay in Gosol. Pablo Ruíz Picasso visited the village in the spring of 1906 and stayed until the first half of August. Whilst in Gosol, Picasso underwent a transformation and during this period changed his palette, his sketching style and his rhythm of composition.

Travel

A group transfer is included in the price for those who have booked the “with flight” option. If you are travelling independently but would like to use this transfer, please contact us for details.

Holiday Start: For those who have booked our “with flight” holiday, a coach transfer from Toulouse Airport direct to your first accommodation is automatically included. A representative of our partner agent will meet you upon arrival and direct you to your transfer.

Holiday Finish: Similar arrangements apply. A coach transfer to Barcelona Airport will be arranged to connect with the HF Holidays flight.

Please note that these transfers will be timed to connect with the HF Holidays’ flights. We cannot make separate arrangements for guests arriving/departing at different times.

Flight details: these will be confirmed upon booking.

Leaders

François Soulé

François is your friendly hiking guide, who lives locally in the Haute Ariège valley. He looks forward to leading you on this historic crossing from Montségur to Berga and to sharing his knowledge of the fascinating story of the last of the Cathars, and also the region, its customs, geography and flora and fauna. François has strong field experience (a qualified mountain walking guide) and will adapt the speed of the walk to your own pace so that you enjoy your holiday in this beautiful area.

Reviews

Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
14 Jun 2016, 12:11 p.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

+

Service review:

I really appreciated the efficiency of HF, particularly the fact that they EMAILED me my plane tickets. I live abroad and it's much easier to me to get these things by email, as sometimes I've arrived in Europe BEFORE these tickets arrive (if they're sent by snail mail.

Product review:

The hotel were very well-chosen but the food provided was not excellent. I wonder if you might have an option for guests to have a night out by themselves so they could sample the local fare. The other point I wish to make is that this is a very grueling holiday. I wonder if you could make the circle hikes (2nd and 4th days) optional, and also allow those nights to be the ones where we find our own meals?
14 Jun 2016, 7:28 a.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

++

Service review:

We have enjoyed all our HF holidays

Product review:

A most enjoyable holiday
12 Oct 2015, 8:21 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

++

Service review:

Good walking holidays led by experienced and knowledgeable leaders in interesting parts of Europe and the world.

Product review:

An ecellent journey in the footsteps of the Cathars through the passes of the Pyrannees led by a leader with good knowledge of the area.
5 Oct 2015, 10:57 a.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

++

Service review:

Well organised, delightful walking, excellent local guide

Product review:

Everything about the holiday was good. the only downside was the food at Le Chalet hotel in Ax- Les Thermes was not up to the normal HF standard, and there was no bar. The Hostal Cal Francisco in Gosol was very basic, and the food was inadequate for a walking holiday.
1 Oct 2015, 3:51 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

++

Service review:

Only received my flight details 3 days before departure

Product review:

Outstanding local leader, who gave a real insight into the history of his local area. Some long days, but all very different. A very good holiday.
30 Sep 2015, 8:39 a.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

++

Service review:

Everything went very smoothly. This was my HF first holiday, and i was impressed

Product review:

Well organised, comfortable accomodation and excellent guide/leader
29 Sep 2015, 7:41 a.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

++

Service review:

No review provided

Product review:

Overall a positive experience.
20 Sep 2015, 6:28 p.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

++

Service review:

We've now used HF three times, and loved all of our trips! Nothing in Canada compares to this firm for small group, guided hiking.

Product review:

We last visited the Pyranees over 20 years ago, so what a pleasure to return, especially given the knowledgable guide, good food and wine, and great company.
29 Jun 2015, 9:36 a.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

All very efficiently organised when we got there, although communication before the holiday could have been better.

Product review:

Lovely walking and good accommodation.
25 Jun 2015, 8:34 a.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

++

Service review:

Used internet with no problems.

Product review:

Excellent walking with informative local guide.

Read more reviews from feefo

Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Book
3 Jun 2017 XLLDW - Cathar Crossing - Without Flights 7 £999.00 Book Now
16 Sep 2017 XLLDW - Cathar Crossing
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 16 Sep 2017, 2:10 p.m.
  • Arrive: 16 Sep 2017, 5 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Toulouse Blagnac

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 23 Sep 2017, 3 p.m.
  • Arrive: 23 Sep 2017, 4:20 p.m.
  • Depart from: Barcelona
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
7 £1,199.00 Book Now
16 Sep 2017 XLLDW - Cathar Crossing - Without Flights 7 £999.00 Book Now

Prices are per person

Information

  • Single room: £150 (2017 complete holiday)

If at eight weeks prior to the start of the holiday a sharing partner is unavailable, a single room or room for single occupancy with associated supplement will be allocated to you instead. 

  • Non-member associate fee: £10 per person

You may be interested in

Sign up for our newsletter

Our newsletters are a great way to receive special offers, inspiring articles, stories and news from HF Holidays.

To subscribe, please enter your email address below and click 'submit'.

We won't pass your details on to any third party unless we have your express permission, you are free to unsubscribe at any time.