Chateau de Montsegur
Chateau de Montsegur
4.5
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles784 reviews
Excellent
496
Very good
216
Average
55
Poor
11
Terrible
6

EdC1968
Liverpool, UK5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Solo
Time stands still at this site where in 1244 up to 300 Cathars were burned at the base of the mountain - an option they chose rather than convert to Catholicism. The place still holds a haunting energy that has survived nearly 800 years.
The walk up looks worse than it is and if you pace yourself is well worth it and takes around 20 minutes. The views are stunning.
Written July 16, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Catalan66117
Montseret, France117 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014 • Family
We drove across from Perpignan early so as to get to see some of the inland areas that made up the lands of the Cathar favouring Lords of the Pyrenees. There were vineyards lining part of the way, and then the road seemed to drive into a mountain side as the cliffs formed half an arch on the side of the river, and the outcrop precipice was inspiring.

We continued west, we'd heard you could go gold paning in the river near Foix, and it sounded a great adventure for the children. We needed breakfast and stopped on the road in the village under the citadel of Puivert. The people there were so helpful, so pleasant to meet.

As we came within a short distance of a town named Lavelanet I spotted a sign, the village of Bélesta, leading to the Chateau de Montsegur. We left the D117 and headed up the road, past Fougax-et-Barrineuf, and the mountains seemed to crowd in a little with the forest. Another sign, and a car park.

The air was thin, and I steadied myself after such a long drive, and the excitement of finally seeing the place I had read so much about. We walked across the road from the car park, walking up a track and suddenly in front of us was a stone cross which I recognised from my reading. It marked the place where the Northern war lords had built a huge pyre where when the castle surrendered the people known as Cathars, including women and children, and one child in particular the daughter of the castellane, Esclarmonde de Pereille, who was disabled, walked into the flames. The despots from Pope Innocent III saw to no escaping.

I looked up, and could see a little of the citadel among the trees. We then climbed the rocky path way, still as difficult as it probably had been for the "conquering heroes" in the thirteenth century, our children did well, it was a life changing climb. I'm not sure, maybe an hour, and we made the last slightly steeper last few steps to stand at the gateway in. Everything was as it had been left. Oh, yes some of the battlements had been rebuilt after by the victors, but essentially I felt like I was on holy ground. The last home of the Cathar people.

My research goes on, with a new intensity after such a wonderful experience. There are tours you can go on, and a ticket office halfway up the mountain 'pog', where you pay an admittance. But it was a unique experience.

Eventually, after exploring the emplacements we climbed down again. In the village of Montsegur there is a museum well worth a visit, and some nice facilities, a good restaurant. We retraced our steps to the car, and continued our drive to Foix. Another castle, as interesting and inspiring, but not quite the same as Montsegur which touched my soul.
Written September 4, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jan G
Harrogate, UK14 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014 • Friends
Not the faint hearted. This is quite a trek up to the top, but there are benches on the way up and the views along the way are stunning. Take water and go at a steady pace. The views from the top are breath-taking and panoramic. A place you will never forget.
Written January 17, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JohnChappell53
Salford, UK22 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2019 • Solo
Knee replacement, dodgy feet, other knee going, a little overweight, 66, not particularly fit... I still did it. It looks unassailable but it's doable if taken slowly. Steps of a sort most of the way but rough going both up and down. Great sense of achievement. Took about 40 minutes each way. Fantastic views although not much to see at the top castle wise. A great sense of history and sadness. Worth the effort.
Written July 8, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Carol P
Melbourne, Australia100 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2014 • Solo
I only wish I had been better prepared. If I had known I should wear stout footwear, that should wear a light rain coat, or that the pathway was rocky and steep, I may have thought twice about going up the Pog, and concentrated on the village.
Or perhaps I would have enjoyed the climb more. It is certainly one designed to challenge, and goodness knows how the Cathars in their white dresses, or the Knights in their heavy armour every made it up and down and fought it out.
On the afternoon I went (sometimes crawled) up the slippy rocks, it was foggy, rainy and with no views. There is little to no signage to tell you how far or how long or how hard the climb will be. Perhaps this is part of the adventure.
The further I climbed the more I worried about coming down, After all that is the hardest part of any climb. However I found coming down a little easier than going up as I was more familiar iwth the path.
The ruins at the top are impressive in that they are there at all. I was amazed to think that this is the third incarnation of a chateau (the current ruins are of a later construction than that of the Cathars. That was razed at the time by the French and nothing remains).
I guess I was less than impressed because I did not have any views due to the fog.
I was very impressed that I made it up and down.
Just one suggestion, if you are to charge 6 euros to go up the track, why not charge 10 euros and make it a little easier and more accessible? This is an important site and important to many people who would like to pay respects to the Cathars.
Written May 18, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mary S
Okehampton, UK156 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2012 • Friends
When you look up at this Cathar Stronghold its easy to see why the castle held out in the siege in medieval times. It is situated on a steep sided 'pug', with vertical drops of 3 sides, and a steep slope on the fourth side. It is a steep climb up to the entrance and the little booth collecting money is about a third of the way up a little zig-zag track. I have a knee that doesn't like steep slopes, so it took about 40 minutes to climb up, stopping to take in the views, chat to passing people etc.

One of the sites mentioned in Kate Mosse's novel Labyrinth, so if you've read this then a visit to Montsegur is something you have to do! If not, it's worth trawling on the internet first to research a bit about the history of the castle, so you understand the context of this last Cathar stronghold. You can see two other Cathar castles from the top Roquefixade (which is free to visit) and sometimes Puivert (another village about 20 km to the east). You can see down valley to the small town of Mirepoix, which was flooded by catastrophic lake drainage in 13th century (I think).

There is a small museum in the local town with more information, but it wasn't open when I visited (and I was more interested in getting a coffee by that time).

Various guide books in different languages introduce the history of the Cathars castles, so if you are going to visit a few of the castles it might be worth picking a guide up. Zoe Oldenburg writes "In 1208 Pope Innocent III called for a Crusade against a country of fellow-Christians. The new enemy was Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, ...So began the Albigensian Crusade (named after the French town of Albi), which was to culminate in 1244 with the massacre of Cathars at the mountain fortress of Montségur".

The castle is also on the Sentier Cathar (the Cathar Way), which starts from Foix and heads east to Roquefixade, with Montsegur being the third castle along the walking route.
Written December 24, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JackJobson
Teignmouth, United Kingdom8 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2012 • Friends
The climb is worth the walk,The views are worth your time, but find a quiet corner and just let your mind drift back from the 21st century to that place in history that it has become famous for, to live up there through hot summers and freezing winters, with clear views over the wild countryside and mist lying valleys. No cars or tarmac roads, no cameras or mobile phones, no plastic sandwich box's or drink containers, Just your belief in a faith, on top of a mountain, that would be worth dying for....
Written November 24, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Elefthera
San Francisco, CA52 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2010 • Couples
The citadels of the Cathars had always been on my list of experiences since reading Oldenbourg's "Massacre at Monstsegur". But the experience captured the mystery of the medieval Cathars far beyond what I could have hoped. We journeyed in late November and the weather was cold and dismal. We stayed in Carcassonne at La Dame Carcas, the former Bishop's mansion, which is a jewel of an experience in itself.

We arrived at the site of Montsegur and were reluctant to leave our small Renault - the rain was pouring and the wind was whistling across the landscape that was devoid of any living creatures but ourselves. Finally, my girlfriend said, "You've been talking about this for years, we're going to climb it." So we braved the wind and rain and climbed the steep, uneven, and slippery pathway. The water was coming down in rivulets under our feet and we were soaked in moments.

At the pinnacle, we reached the ruined, roofless, uneven walls where the Albigensians made their last stand. I walked around the fortress to get the complete feel. The sky was overcast and dark. Inside the walls, we climbed the battlements and walked along the parapets to look over the tops of the crenelated walls. And then we heard the mournful voices, the faint howling. Of course, we knew it was just the wind forcing its way through the narrow loopholes where once the last 220 Cathars had perhaps peered down at the Pope's 10,000 marrauding soldiers. But at the time, my imagination fancied it was the spirits of the martyred Cathars.

Between 1243–44, the Cathars resisted St. Dominico Guzman's 10,000 soldiers from this fortress location, but in March 1244, perhaps on a day as cursed by the gods as the day we visited, the Cathars finally surrendered. St Dominic is the reputed founder of the Inquisition.

I looked for breaches along the rear of the fortress where, In the days just prior to the fall of the fortress, it is said that several Cathars slipped away with the legendary "Treasure of the Cathars". Some say the treasure was the Holy Grail itself. Some say that Montségur is the Grail castle, which in Wolfram von Eschenbach's "Parzival", is called Monsalvat,

On the way back down, the earth was dusted with snow. We paused at the memorial at the foot of the hill which commemorates the spot where St Dominic's army burned these people who were called heretics because they were trying to live Christianity as the original Christian taught it. All 220 were burned en masse in a bonfire on that actual site.

Of course, the current ruin is not the historical Cathar castle. That was destroyed in 1245. The current fortress was built in the 17th Century. But I am certain the spirits I heard were from the original Cathars. To hear them, however, you must visit off season.

[Note: information below is relevant only to off season.]
Written September 12, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

laurentbellaiche777
Fayetteville, AR56 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2019 • Family
My 20-year-old son, my 72-year-old dad, 74-year-old mom and myself went to this castle. What a wonderful hike (but a rather difficult one, especially for my dad who barely managed it while my mom waited for us in front of the cabin selling the tickets). The view from the top is fantastic and this place has a mystic atmosphere due to its Cathare origins. I highly recommend it, especially if you are in good physical shape or want to be in good physical shape...
Written June 30, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

bpg73
UK2 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2015 • Family
Don't be put off by the reviews warning of a difficult climb. I don't like heights but found this ascent to be quite easy. We took our six and four year old to the top. The castle and surroundings are stunning.
Written August 25, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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