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Ref CY7C

Mountain bike FranceCROSSING THE CATHAR COUNTRY V2 An MTB tour of the mountains and chateaux of the Eastern Pyrenees

En route to Cathar country, famous for its numerous castles: Aguilar, Quéribus, Peyrepertuse, Puivert… Riding in the country of the “Citadelles du vertige" (literally “Vertiginous citadels”), takes you from the lavender and thyme of the Corbières to the dense forests of the Ariège mountains, with the majestic chain of the Pyrenees as a backdrop.

Guided version: from 920€ - DetailsSelf-guided version: from 745€ - Details Duration : 7 days | Level : Customer satisfaction : - 0 reviews
+33 458 140 435 A dedicated team of travel specialists is available to offer you expert advice Monday to Friday from 9 to 12:30 AM and 13:30 to 6 PM (French time) on the phone, or by email.
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This tour is E-MTB compatible

Highlights

  • A sometimes harsh but beautiful and contrasting country, that will win you over with its warm welcome and delicious cuisine.
  • More than just a cycling tour, this trip offers you a historical and cultural journey to the time of the Cathars and their castles.

Description

Comments

  • This trip exists in 3 versions : V1 = 1 wheel / V2 = 2 wheels / V3 = 3 wheels.
  • Special offers for private groups. Please ask us for a quotation.

Day 1: Port la Nouvelle - Tuchan

Itinerary start: Rendezvous on day 1 is at 9am in front of Port-la-Nouvelle SNCF railway station (11). We will leave directly from the train station. Please arrive in your cycle clothing.

Welcome to Port la Nouvelle, situated between the Corbières and the Mediterranean. From our meeting point a stone's throw from the sea, we grab our bikes and begin the week of riding with a passage through the wild Corbières. A distinct mountain range, the Corbières is a mass of limestone and schist rock, culminating at the Pech de Bugarach (1231 m). The range is famous for its wines, a lot less for its great mountain biking potential. Our route takes us through the famous Fitou, an area with a longstanding tradition of wine production. We pass the little known 12th century Château d'Aguilar, on a rocky outcrop at the foot of the Mont Tauch. On a mix of wide tracks and singletrack, we reach our gite overlooking the village of Tuchan.

Distance covered: approx. 45 km / ascent: approx. 1100 m

Day 2: Tuchan - La Bastide

From Tuchan we head south and into the mountains. Today’s ride marks the passage from the "Pre-Pyrenees" of the Corbières Range to the more rocky, mineral mountains of the eastern Pyrenees, symbolised by the Pic du Canigou (2784 m) that rises up ahead of us. Our route takes us through the vineyards of the Fitou and the limestone gorges of the "garrigue", full of the smells of wild thyme and lavender. A distinctly Mediterranean atmosphere... We pass the castle of Quéribus, veritable donjon of the Pyrenees, then ride along a great mountainside track to the ruined castle of Peyrepertuse, sitting proudly atop a rocky crag. We follow a superb series of ancient trails, once used by shepherds and travellers, to the gorges of Galamus, which we then climb to reach our overnight lodgings in a 15th century hamlet (La Bastide).

Distance covered: approx. 50 km / ascent: approx. 1500 m

Day 3: La Bastide - Aigues Bonnes

After a hearty breakfast we head off due north from our gite. We leave the mountainous terrain surrounding the Canigou, highest peak in the eastern Pyrenees, and discover meadows bordered by fir trees, and deep beech forests, under the watchful eye of the Pech de Bugarach (1230 m). The Pech was in the news at the end of 2012 when, according to the Mayan Calendar, the end of the world was imminent. Recent legends would have it that the Pech had previously been the only place on earth to escape the apocalypse! Whether a myth or a hoax, the local authorities were obliged to put substantial measures in place faced with the thousands of people who descended on the small nearby village. The following section of the day sees us cross some lush green pasture land before dropping once again into the "garrigue", overlooked and defended by the three castles, built by the lords of Fenouillet. Night in a gite on a farm.

Distance covered: approx. 35 km / ascent: approx. 1200 m

Day 4: Aigues Bonnes - Quillan

The "garrigue" gives way to the majestic fir plantations of the Aude Department where we discover (under the watchful eye of the vultures overhead) the fortress of the castle of Puilaurens perched high up on an impenetrable rocky outcrop. Easy riding takes us through the Forêt des Fanges, known for its giant fir trees. The old royal Fanges Forest is a caver’s paradise, with over 100 cavities and sinkholes. The forest was best known in the 17th century, when tall fir trees were cultivated, notably for the production of masts for the French royal fleet of ships. We then attack a superb singletrack descent which leads us to our overnight lodgings in Quillan.

Distance covered: 35 km / Altitude gain: 1100 meters.

Day 5: Quillan - Comus

We leave Quillan and climb up to the Plateau de Nébias, where we discover the fortified castle of Puivert. One of the finest examples of Cathar castles, sitting proudly atop a hill at over 600 metres above sea level, Puivert is classified as a historical monument. The oldest mentions of its existence date back to the 12th century. We continue our route in the direction of the Plateau de Sault and its majestic forests, before continuing on to the Langarail Ridge and the immense fir plantations of Comus (reminder that the mountains are close by...). Night at 1200 metres in Comus, a small mountain village in the Pays d'Aillou, with superb views of the sunset over the Pyrenees.

Distance covered: 55 km / Altitude gain: 1400 meters.

Day 6: Comus - Montségur

Another great day's mountain biking in Cathar Country! We make the most of the fresh morning air to climb to the Col de Balagues to admire the Pyrenees once again, before tackling a superb descent, smooth at first before becoming more technical, through the Gorges de la Frau (Gorges of Fear). Luckily for us, attempts to create a road through the gorges were unsuccessful, and today a path is the only access through the impressive natural feature. We arrive at Montségur, and its famous castle, via the Col du Liam or the Fougax Valley. Optional climb (on foot) to the “Pog” (castle), walled citadel and refuge of the Cathar Church… Night in a gite in Montségur.

Distance covered: 40 km / Altitude gain: 1100 meters.

Day 7: Montségur - Foix

An unforgettable day, with a serious downhill tendency, offering more than 1000 metres of descent on singletrack. Mmm! Our route takes us past the famous castles of Montségur and Roquefixade before finishing on a technical and fun 400 metre descent to Foix. Shuttle transfer to the starting point (Port la Nouvelle).

Distance covered: 35 km / Altitude gain: 1200 meters (and 1700 metres of cumulative descent).

Distances and altitude gain are an indication only and may vary.

Itinerary end: Separation on day 7 is also in Port-la-Nouvelle, after a return journey by shuttle from Foix.

This tour has not yet received any reviews.

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A dedicated team of travel specialists is available to offer you expert advice Monday to Friday from 9 to 12:30 AM and 13:30 to 6 PM (French time) on the phone, or by email.


Phone number: +33 458 140 435
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Contact us

A dedicated team of travel specialists is available to offer you expert advice Monday to Friday from 9 to 12:30 AM and 13:30 to 6 PM (French time) on the phone, or by email.

Send the message