to do for your vacation? No ideas?...
I created this page following many information demands to visit those magic places. This tour has often been tested by me, and lasts 7 days and a half from Mazamet (the durations are a little bit over calculated in order not to have to do it in a hurry!). Of course, you can always change it and I remain at your disposal if you need anything else, please email me.
From Mazamet, going through the mountain towards Carcassonne (N118).
When you reach 'Les Martys', turn on D101 towards 'Mas Cabardès', then take the direction of Lastours where you have four castles and a peculiar history. You can do this in half a day (be careful, the hike is small but rather difficult)
ACCOMODATION in Lastours! I recommend this small B&B: http://www.lesmarronniers.co.uk
Or you might leave towards Carcassonne, to spend the night there.
NB: unless you are very rich, do not try to spend the night IN the city.
Day 1 - The City you can visit it in a day. Advice: call the office of tourism (04.68.10.24.30) and take an appointment for the long visit in addition to the normal visit: that way you will see all the aspects of the place: the rampart, and the different construction waves from the roman period to the present.
Day 2 - The Ariège: take D 119 from Carcassonne(2 days - Michelin map 86)
Mirepoix (2 hours), then Foix and Gaston Phoebus's castle (2 hours + the drive) - these two destinations in a day, I suggest to spend the night in Foix.
Day 3 - Roquefixade going to Lavelanet through D117, then D9 (1/2 day, small hike rather easy). Continue through D9/D117 towards Lavelanet, and follow 'Monségur' almost facing Roquefixade (one can see the castle from Roquefixade, the hike is rather difficult - 1/2 day).
Then you can finish the day catching up D117 through D9 stopping at Puivert before leaving to Quillan, still through D117.
Day 4 - South of Carcassonne are the 'Corbières', with beautiful 'Cathar' castles (2nd part of the crusade) - michelin map 86 - about the accomodation, I suggest B&B (not many hotels in the vicinity) or camp sites if the weather is appropriate.
From Quillan, towards Couiza through D118, is Rennes le Château, with a rather famous story of a clergyman selling his soul to the Devil to restore his church (about 2 hours). One can always stop while going to/back in Espéraza where you have a very interesting prehistory museum (about 2 hours). A complete squeleton of Dinosaur has been recently discovered: Don't miss it!!!
After Rennes le château, go back to Quillan, take D117 towards Puilaurens the castle... be careful, the hike is very steep (2-3 hours)
Day 5 - Still taking D117, you may do this in a day, or even half a day: Peyrepertuse and Quéribus castles (in 'Maury', take D19), you may even stop in a village Alphonse Daudet wrote about: Cucugnan.
Day 6 - Then from Peyrepertuse, you can go up to Termes through D212, visit the ruins of the castle (easy - about 2 hours) then go to Lagrasse, then through D3 and D613, go see the Fontfroide Abbey, before going to Narbonne to sleep.
Day 7 - from Narbonne (Michelin map 83), go see Minerve through D607 (about 1/2 day) going up west (nice village, and a natural curiosity: a natural bridge dug into the sand-stone plateau by the river). Then you can always go back to the Black Mountain and visit the giant hole of Cabrespine (which is beautiful): go to olonzac through D910. Then to Caunes Minervois through D52, catch D620 towards Villeneuve Minervois, and to Cabrespine through D112.
I hope you will have a good time, of course, you can cut some of the stops, and the trip would still be interesting!