Mystery and history

Castles & Abbeys

The Cathar country is a heritage treasure that fascinates with its medieval and esoteric history. Let our imagination wander through the extraordinary landscapes, the high perched castles, the impregnable citadels and the Romanesque abbeys that make up the richness of this region of southern France.

Catar castles

The castles, symbols of history and legends.

Perched on vertiginous rocky peaks, watching over the horizon as far as the Mediterranean, the Cathar castles form a defensive complex around Carcassonne that has long been reputed to be impregnable: the Citadels of vertigo, which are in the running for inclusion in the UNESCO world heritage list.

Photo credit : Vincent Photographie – ADT de l’Aude

Discover our favourites…


Exceptional panorama and history

With its perfect integration into its rocky promontory and its complete defensive system, Quéribus is the best example of fortress architecture in Cathar country. Standing at an altitude of over 700 metres, the castle of Quéribus projects its elegant silhouette and offers a superb panorama from the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees.


Its exceptional state of preservation allows you to travel back in time.



Photo credit : Aurefolio


The castle of all superlatives

The fortress of Peyrepertuse is one of the “five sons of Carcassonne”.

It is situated on a limestone ridge at an altitude of almost 800 metres.

This gigantic building is the same size as the city of Carcassonne. Nicknamed the “celestial Carcassonne“, it represents the most important medieval architectural ensemble in Languedoc-Roussillon.

Photo credit : Vincent Photographie – ADT de l’Aude


The white lady 

A bastion par excellence, perched on a rocky spur at 697m, like an eagle’s nest in the heart of a coniferous forest, this majestic site, reached by a path, offers the visitor a place conducive to dreams, with its lacy battlements and the legend of the White Lady.

Photo credit : Vincent Photographie – ADT de l’Aude

The fortress

Discover the Termes castle which stands on a high rock with spectacular vertical walls, rising up between oaks and junipers in the heart of the Cathar country.

This castle was one of the most powerful in Languedoc, and ruled over the Termenès, a seigneury of about sixty villages.

Photo credit : Vincent Photographie – ADT de l’Aude


The 4 brothers

The four castles are built on a rocky spur above the village of Lastours, isolated by the deep valleys of the Orbiel and Grésillou. Considered as the guardians of the valleys like four inseparable brothers, the castles of Lastours give a stunning defensive aspect.

Photo credit : Vincent Photographie – ADT de l’Aude


The Romanesque abbeys are also at the heart of the history and heritage of the Aude department.

Abbeys of Fontfroide, Lagrasse, St Hilaire, Valmagne, Caune-Minervois, Villelongue, the list is long. Whether Cistercian or Benedictine, each has its own architectural and historical particularities.

They are part of a unique heritage.

Discover our favourites…

Abbey of Lagrasse

Architectural treasure

Facing the medieval town of Lagrasse, listed as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France“, this imposing Benedictine abbey presents a breathtaking catalogue of architecture from the 8th to the 18th century. It shows the traces of an eminent political and spiritual influence. 

Imposing and majestic in its green setting, the abbey founded under Charlemagne in 779 was the largest abbey in the department. It has since become one of the department’s most beautiful architectural treasures. Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse is one of the most prestigious religious monuments in Occitania and testifies to over 1200 years of history.



Abbey of Saint Hilaire

A heaven of peace

The Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Hilaire is located in the picturesque Lauquet valley.

Occupying a dominant position in the heart of the old medieval fortress of Saint-Hilaire, this monastery of human dimensions is organised around its Gothic cloister and houses the “sarcophagus” of Saint-Sernin, the major work of the Cabestany Master. Its reading chair is listed as unique in France. It also has magnificent medieval painted ceilings from the 15th century.

It was here in 1531 that the monks invented the world’s first sparkling wine, Blanquette de Limoux.

Abbey de Valmagne 

Cathedral of the vineyards

Classified as a historic monument in 1947, Valmagne is one of the most beautiful Cistercian abbeys in France and one of the oldest vineyards in the Languedoc. You will discover its cathedral of the vines with its Russian oak tuns, its cloister with its Florentine charm, as well as its fountain, one of the few to have been preserved in France. You can stroll through the medieval garden before visiting the conservatory of grape varieties and tasting the estate’s organic wines. At the Ferme Auberge de l’abbaye you will discover tasty dishes made with vegetables, flowers, fruits and forgotten plants from the organic vegetable garden. 

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