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Your cycling holiday in France

Cycle the Cathar Castles | Guided Group

Total Distance 247 miles (394km) | Average distance per day 41 miles (65km)

Discover the Aude lands of Cathar castles, the Canal du Midi, Carcassonne and Perpignan. This is a week of superb cycling in south-west France. You’ll ride from the medieval fortress of Carcassonne, through a land of impressive Cathar castles and pretty villages, to the Mediterranean coast and historic town of Perpignan. The riding days are varied and mostly on quiet French lanes, taking you into the Pyrenean foothills and along the Vermillion Coast. We’ll build in plenty of time to stop for wine tasting or to sample local delicacies. Four of the rides are optional, giving you the chance to blend sightseeing and cycling to suit your interests.

What not to miss

  • Cathar Castles and pretty villages
  • Corbieres’ hill towns
  • Mediterranean coast
  • Historical town of Perpignan
  • Artistic Collioure

What’s included

  • Meals (breakfast and two dinners)
  • Transport (touring bike, taxi) (E-Bikes are available)
  • Tour Leader
  • Standard Mid-Range Accommodation
  • Airport transfers
Your cycling holiday in France

Cycle the Cathar Castles | Guided Group

Day 1

Arrival in Carcassonne.

Your tour starts in the walled fortress town of Carcassonne. Enjoy an evening walking tour and free time to visit one of this region's most spectacular settings. Historically this was one of the most important and powerful cities in the south. We will discover the medieval remains and enjoy the unique heritage of what is surely one of the most perfectly preserved towns of its kind anywhere in France. The city holds a wealth of delights, from the twin towers of the Porte Narbonnaise, spectacular Chateau Comtal in the heart of La Cite, to some of the best medieval stained glass in the Midi at the Basilique St. Nazaire.

Meals included:  none

Day 2

Round Tour Carcassonne | Distance 27 miles (43 km) | Elevation +597m.

Your first ride is into the hills to visit the village of Lastours. Located on a rocky spur above the village are four Cathar towers, isolated by the deep valleys of the Orbeil and Gresilhou rivers. They were built perched along a rocky escarpment just 400 metres long and 50 metres wide. Cabaret, Surdespine and la Tour Regine castles stand in line, while Quertinheux is built on a separate pinnacle close by. Our cycle route also passes an excellent viewing point on the opposite side of the valley to these ancient monuments. The site has been classified 'un monument historique' by the French Ministry of Culture.

Meals included: breakfast

Day 3

From Carcassonne to Sougraigne | Distance 36 miles (58 km) | Elevation +827m.

You ride south into the Corbieres hills with a steady (gentle!) ascent following the River Aude valley. En route you will stop at Limoux for a morning wine tasting of the local sparkling vintage. Next we head to Couiza and Rennes-les-Bains, where you will have the opportunity to enjoy the healing qualities of the hot natural springs. From here we cycle to the small village of Sougraigne and our accommodation for the next two nights.

Meals included: breakfast, dinner

Day 4

Round Tour from Sougraigne | Distance 52 miles (83 km) | Elevation +1489m.

The riding today is a longer and more demanding 50 mile circular cycle route to see Rennes-le-Chateau and Puivert Castle. The first stop is to explore Rennes-le-Chateau which is steeped in Cathar history. The castle has been made particularly famous in recent years for claims involving Blanche of Castile, the Knights Templar, suggested treasures from the Temple of Solomon and Holy Grail stories. We pedal on through Esperaza, to our next cycle stop at the 12th century Chateau de Puivert. With strong links to both Cathars and Troubadours the museum of musical instruments is well worth a visit. Enjoy your return ride through the rolling hills and pretty valleys. There is also the option to shorten the ride and take a self-guided route to visit a couple of surrounding villages (40 km) or to take free time to relax in Sougraigne.

Meals included: breakfast, dinner

Day 5

From Sougraigne to Perpignan | Distance 60 miles (96 km) | Elevation +1108m.

Todays ride is a cycling odyssey to find where the mountains meet the sea. We’ll ride through small villages and pass the foot of Pic de Bugarach, the highest summit in the Corbieres hills with a peak at 1230 metres. It is known as the 'upside down mountain' because the top layers of rock are older than the lower layers due to uplift of the Pyrenees. Continuing the cycle you will then pass the two imposing castles of Peyrepertuse and Queribus. Peyrepertuse is a ruined fortress and has been associated with the Counts of Narbonne and Barcelona. Peyrepertuse and its neighbour, Queribus are known as two of the 'five sons of Carcassonne' castles which were fortified by the French in 1242 to protect the border from Spain. From here we have around 45 kilometres of gentle cycle descent before we reach the historical town of Perpignan on the Mediterranean coast and our accommodation for the next three nights.

Meals included: breakfast

Day 6

Round Tour from Perpignan | Distance 29 miles (46km) | Elevation +197m.

Heading east we follow a cycle path along the side of the River Tet. You pass through small towns and villages before arriving at the coast near Canet-en-Roussillon. There is the chance to stop at one of the beaches of Canet Plage or La Marenda for a relaxing swim. You will continue to cycle round the lake in the Nature Reserve and follow the cycle paths back to your accommodation in Perpignan. Alternatively, you can opt out of cycling and spend the day exploring Perpignan.

Meals included: breakfast

Day 7

Round Tour from Perpignan | Distance 21.25 miles (34km) | Elevation +277m.

This cycle ride today takes you south east towards the famous artistic town of Collioure. Pedalling through small towns you will arrive at the coast between St-Cyprien and Argelès-sur-Mer and along this stretch of coast, you will pass several good beaches where you can stop for a swim, before you arrive into the town. Here you will finish riding and spend the afternoon exploring the quaint streets, famous for attracting artists such as Matisse, Derain, Picasso and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. At the end of a relaxing day, take the short train journey back to Perpignan.

Meals included: breakfast

Day 8

End in Perpignan

We say “au revoir” and “à bientôt”!

Meals included: breakfast

This tour is operated by our preferred local partner.

Your cycling holiday in France

Cycle the Cathar Castles | Guided Group

Your cycling holiday in France

Cycle the Cathar Castles | Guided Group

Note: The accommodation listed below is indicative, it is not guaranteed and is subject to availability. Alternative accommodation of an equal standard may be used.

Appart'City Hotel, Perpignan

3-star

This hotel is located in the centre of Perpignan and is beautifully furnished. 

Hotel Espace Cite, Carcassonne

2-star

Contemporary and stylish rooms in the modern l'Hôtel Espace Cite located just 200m from the medieval city centre.

Hotel Le Jardin de la Sals, Sougraigne

2-star

A charming paradise with rustic rooms, swimming pool, wellness centre and relaxing gardens.

Your cycling holiday in France

Cycle the Cathar Castles | Guided Group

Package Prices (Flights and Transfers Included) 2019

2019 Departure Dates Nights Adult Price  
20 April - 27 April 7 £1,095 Enquire now
01 June - 08 June 7 £1,135 Enquire now
17 August - 24 August 7 £1,225 Enquire now
21 September - 28 September  7 £999 Enquire now

Tour Only Prices 2019

2019 Departure Dates Nights Adult Price  
20 April - 27 April 7 £845 Enquire now
01 June - 08 June 7 £845 Enquire now
17 August - 24 August 7 £845 Enquire now
21 September - 28 September  7 £845 Enquire now


Extras

Single room supplement: £240

Solo travellers

On this tour we do not require you to pay a surcharge for travelling alone. We will arrange for you to share accommodation with another traveller of the same gender and if we cannot match you up we will provide a single room at no extra charge. If you prefer not to share a single supplement is payable to guarantee your own room. The cost of the single supplement is listed above.

Your cycling holiday in France

Cycle the Cathar Castles | Guided Group

Total Distance

247 miles (394km)

Average distance per day

41 miles (65km)

Suitability

We cycle on a mixture of tarmac roads and dedicated cycle paths. The terrain is quite hilly with the biggest ascents on days 4 and 5 and finishing with flatter rides for the last 2 days. Maps are provided to cycle individually or in groups while the tour leader drives the support vehicle, except on circular routes when the tour leader will cycle with the group. We have graded the route as moderate to challenging. 

Bikes

Your included bike is a 21 gear RTE 520 hybrid and will be the correct frame size for your height. These are unisex step-through frames, but women's step through frames are available, but are limited in number and size and may vary in bike type - please request at time of booking. A 15-litre pannier and water bottle holder are included as well as the facility to fit your own pedals or saddle if you wish to bring them. A support vehicle carries the luggage from point to point and is driven by the Explore Leader. Maps are provided to cycle individually or as a group. We provide spare parts and take care of the day to day maintenance. All you need to bring is your own helmet. Electric bikes (available for an additional cost) will be the similar RTE 700 unisex step-through frame bikes with front and rear suspension fitted with a 250watt Geonaute 8FUN motor. You will be required to pay a refundable cash 250 Euro deposit upon collection of the e-bike in country. Please contact us for more details or to request your e-bike. 

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