Itinerary the 4 Castles of Lastours
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Itinerary the 4 Castles of Lastours
Itinerary
the 4 Castles of Lastours

Number of kilometres: 50 km
Total visiting time: 5 hours
Suitable for: people who are physically fit

In the foothills of the Montagne Noire, 10 kilometres from Carcassonne, in a peaceful natural environment, a crisscross of paths through Mediterranean forest and Cabardès vineyards, the stones of History are ever-present, at the turn in a path, a glance through the trees.
"Of Stone and Men:
from Capitelles to Châteaux!"

Map around Montolieu
 
click to enlarge
 
  Château de Pennautier >> When leaving Carcassonne, head towards Toulouse on the RD6113 as far as the crossroads on the express way indicating on the right the village of Pennautier.
Drive into the village and take the D203 as far as Aragon.
 
 
Aragon:
Aragon
  Discover this small picturesque village, where the houses blur into the rocky substrata, built in an amphitheatre design on a limestone outcrop, overlooking the Trapel and the La Valette streams.

The village: From the drinking trough square with its historical 16th century cross, listed as an Historical monument (crucifixion on one side and Virgin with Child on the other), stroll through the narrow streets of this delightful authentic village to arrive at the Draw-Gate street (rue du Pont-Levis) where the vestiges of the old wall of the Castrum can be imagined. From there, join the rue du Paro to go to the Castle and the church.

The Castle (late 16th, early 17th centuries): the layout of the current facade is organised between two square towers. The castle has been greatly modified over time and includes remarkable elements in the middle of the facade: the door (16th, 17th centuries) framed by two columns resting on coffers with a diamond-shaped design, is under the vestiges of a bartizan (15th century). The mullion windows were placed in modern times.

From the Medieval period, only a fragment of wall remains. The part which gives onto the dry ditch is a reminder that the fortification used to surround the entire extremity of the outcrop, site of the Castrum.
Aragon
Saint-Marie’s church: After collecting the key (see sign on church door), you will see : the north portal (some elements from the primitive 12th century church), the pentagonal choir (on each of its faces, there is a gothic bay with a pointed arch with two lancet windows), the circular keystone has a plant décor and holds a protruding head. Of the 4 side chapels, one has a keystone decorated with an eagle. The square bell-tower pierced with pointed arch bay openings contains a bell which is listed as an Historical Monument and dates from 1673. To see also : two magnificent statues of the Virgin (15th century in wood and 18th century in gilded wood), the altar, the stoup and the baptismal font in pink marble from Caunes Minervois (the same marble as used in the petit Trianon) as well as the gilded wood tabernacle from the end of the 17th century. Finish the visit by admiring the decorated elements (corbels and beams) of the timber framework, beautifully preserved and rediscovered in 1988. The final span has been completely renovated and gives an idea of the primitive decoration of the Nave. Combining themes of plants and foliage scrolls, with fantastic animals, the beams and the corbels are decorated with coats of arms dating from the early 14th century. Go out of the church and look at the mouldings of six disk-shaped steles in the “priest’s garden”. They were among those found in the cemetery wall and around the village. Small Christian funeral monuments, these steles used to be placed on burial places in the cemetery. Don’t leave without enjoying a good look at the surrounding countryside.

The « Dry-stone and Rural Architecture » Centre: below the church, this museum explains dry-stone architecture (terraces, low walls, cabins …) Finish the visit of Aragon with the Museum of traditional wine-making tools. For information and visits, call the Town Hall of Aragon on 04 68 77 17 87 or 06 11 04 16 19 outside opening hours.

>> Go out of Aragon and take the D935 as far as the village of Villegailhenc: take the D118 towards Mazamet and drive 4 km then take the D411 on the right to Salsigne: you will go past the old gold mines and you can make a stop at the Montfermier Belvedere Lookout from which you can see the four Castles rising up at 300 metres in altitude surrounded by a landscape where cypress trees reach for the sky: exceptional panorama!:
The Castles of Lastours:   Les Quatre Châteaux de Lastours
Drive down to the village of Lastours (Park in the free compulsory car park at the entrance to the village) and go to the renovated old textile factory, called «Rabier» (Phone 04 68 77 56 02 for information).

There are two permanent exhibitions:

The archeological exhibition «LASTOURS, 4000 years of history»: See the main discoveries from 25 years of archeological digs in the old fortified village!

The geological, botanical and zoological exhibition «LASTOURS, Worlds to discover»: prepares the visitor to appreciate an exceptional environment! The old factory also gives access to the walking paths to visit the site, which will make you dizzy and inspire you. These 4 castles, Cabaret, Surdespine, Quertineux and Tour Régine, which have surveyed entry to the Cabardès since the High Middle Ages overlook the Orbiel watercourse and Grésilhou stream. Here you will also see «Le Trou de la Cité», (the Hole from the City). It is the biggest cave at Lastours where there are about forty in all. The «Princess with the necklace», burial place of a young girl dating from 1500 years ago was located in a cavity nearby called «the necklace shelter». Her body was covered with objects including amber beads and jewellery resembling Mycenaean or Egyptian art. At the foot of the Cabaret castle, archeological digs carried out over 25 years have brought to light the medieval village of Cabaret, important Cathar centre which resisted the Crusading armies. Old fortified habitat called a «Castrum», it was composed of about one hundred dwellings and several forges. These were suddenly abandoned without the inhabitants being able to take with them the slightest thing.

>> Go back towards Carcassonne on the D101 and stop at the:
Capitelles de Conques sur Orbiel Capitelles de Conques sur Orbiel: Capitelles de Conques sur Orbiel
Farmers’ and shepherds’ cabins since the 19th century, built from dry-stones (4 round trip walks, about 1 hour for each). During the summer, stop at the 14th century church in Conques to admire the 15th century reredos.

>> Return to Carcassonne on the D101
 
Tasting Wines
A.O.C. Cabardès

Red Wine
= Red Wine

White Wine
= White Wine

Rosé
= Rosé
Conques sur Orbiel - Domaine Salitis - Phone 04.68.77.06.97
Conques sur Orbiel - Domaine Parazols - Phone 06.07.49.15.14
Lastours - Château le Bouchat-Alaux - Phone 06 11 71 90 94
Pennautier - Les Chais du Château - Phone 04 68 25 63 48
Salsigne - Château le Bouchat-Alaux: La Tuilerie - Phone 04 68 47 30 03
Ferme Domaine de Combestremières * Local Produce A.O.C. Cabardès
• Aragon - Café 'le Druide d’Aragon' and local produce 'La Maison du Cabardès' - Phone 04 68 26 12 39
• Lastours - Wines 'le bon filon' July - August - Phone 06.11.71.90.94
• Salsigne - Farm produce from the Ferme de Combestrémière - Phone 04 68 77 06 97

 Activities

- Aragon - Bike trails SITE - VTT - FFC: 460 km of trails, 4 walking trails: ATAC - Phone 04 68 77 04 00
- Bagnoles - Horse-riding trails Au pré de Jolie - Phone 06 61 17 50 90
- Conques sur Orbiel Initiation to motorised 2-wheelers for 6–17 year-olds (1/2 day, day, week) MOTO LIBERTE 11- Phone  04 68 77 07 27
- Puicheric - Rock-climbing, spelunking, and live water sports with the company Eaurizon - Phone 04 68 49 99 82
- Villarzel Cabardès - Accompanied walking circuit, free of charge with visit of pre-romanesque 9th /10th century Chapel + wisigothic cemetery.
(booking necessary with Mr Louis Guiraud - lasts 3 hours) - Phone 04 68 77 02 11
 
Worth seeing nearby:
Villarzel-Cabardès - Musée Archéologique Claude Journet
 
• Montolieu, village du Livre
Montolieu, village du Livre
 
• Saissac: Château Pays Cathare
Château de Saissac
 
• Le Moulin à Papier de Brousses
Le Moulin à Papier de Brousses
 
• Limousis cave
Grotte de Limousis
• Villarzel archeological museum, Moural des Morts wisigothic cemetery (5th to 7th centuries)
and pre-romanesque 9th /10th century Chapel
 
 
Calendar - Festivals
Fête de l’agneau, de la châtaigne et du vin Primeur à Villardonnel
May
« Art Aragon et Artistes » Sculptures and Paintings in the streets at the Prieuré d’Aragon.

June

Mountain-bike ride « Cap Nore » 3rd weekend in Villegly

July/August

« Les Cabardièses » Piano Festival in Pennautier

July/August

Sound and Light show at the castles of Lastours (at the Belvédère) Thursdays

August

Festival «Jazz trees» In the park of the Château de Roquefère (1st week). October
« De Ferme en Ferme en Montagne Noire » (1st Sunday) 04.68.78.00.55

October

« De Ferme en Ferme en Montagne Noire » (1st Sunday) Phone 04.68.78.00.55

November

Fête of lamb, chestnuts and Primeur wine in Villardonnel
 
Restaurants
Timbale de noix de saint-jacques aux cèpes

Aragon - La Bergerie *** - Phone 04.68.26.10.65
Brousses-et-Villaret - La table du Rebombier ** - Phone 04.68.26.47.72
Conques-sur-Orbeil - Restaurant l'Épicurien ** - Phone 04.68.77.06.33
Cuxac Cabardès - Café Hôtel Restaurant de la Montagne Noir * - Phone 04.68.11.37.80
Fontiers-Cabardès - Club 620 * - Phone 04.68 26 53 48
Lastours - Restaurant "Le Puits du Trésor" *** - Phone 04.68.77.50.24
Lastours - Bakery “ Le Moulin de Lastours” * - Phone 04.68.25.23.14
Lastours - Rural auberge "Le Diable aux Thyms" * - Phone 04.68.77.50.24
Pennautier - Les Chais du Château * - Phone 04.68.25.63.48
Pezens - Restaurant l'Ambrosia *** - Phone 04.68.24.92.53
Roquefère - Auberge Sire de Cabaret ** - Phone 04.68.26.31.89
Salsigne - Ferme auberge de Combestremière * - Phone 04.68.77.06.97

Bon voyage!!
 
Restaurant
Le Puits du Trésor

Restaurant Le Puits du Trésor - Lastours



Restaurant Le Puits du Trésor is created by a young and promising Chef, Jean Marc Boyer. He took this rather risky bet in 2002: open a gourmet restaurant in a somewhat isolated place. And he turned it into a success! When you taste the cuisine here now, see the place that is modern and traditional all in one go you clearly see it. The cuisine is refined, delicated, generous, a cuisine that has gourmets from around here and elsewhere coming in great numbers. This is a promising address that has more than one trick in store for you! A well of flavours and scents that we encourage you to discover close to Lastours. With a modern and elegant décor, le Puits du Trésor offers a great moment of gourmet communion. The compositions are often renewed to surprise you and charm you several times....


Campsite
Le Belvédère

Campsite Le Belvédère - Lastours



This eco-friendly little campsite features stunning panoramic views across the site of the 'four castles of Lastours'. The campsite is shaded, peaceful and leafy, and features breathtaking views across the Pyrenees to the south and the castles of Lastours region to the north. Mobile home rental for 4-6 people is available. The campsite overlooks the site of Lastours: castles which is an outstanding set of four castles in ruins, built 300 meters above sea level, a top a rocky outcrop...


Le Coquelicot  Le Coquelicot

Le Coquelicot - Lacombe

Charming Villa, Sleeps 7, located in Lacombe (Aude), private swimming pool!

Auberge
Sire de Cabaret

Auberge Sire de Cabaret - Roquefère



Located in the Cabarde Region, on the lower slopes of the Montagne Noire, in an area steeped in the history of the Cathares, this restaurant features a wood-burning oven and massive amounts of well prepared food. The apertif tray, which may be ordered as the first course, has to be seen to be believed. Roquefère is one of the 100 most beautiful villages of France...


La table
du Rebombier

La table du Rebombier - Brousses-et-Villaret



La Table du Rebombier, halfway between the hamlets of Brousses and Villaret and situated at the foot of the Montagne Noir, overlooking the Pyrenees and the vineyards of the Cabardès. La Table du Rebombier offers meals which vary with the seasons, especially its cuisine and its grills fire place. In season, enjoy game and wild mushrooms. You will find a dining room with beamed ceiling, wooden furniture and a large fireplace. In n eat outside in a beautiful park where your grills are prepared in your presence....


Auberge du
Diable au Thym

Auberge du Diable au Thym - Lastours



Restaurant Le Puits du Trésor and Auberge du Diable au Thym are created by a young and promising Chef, Jean Marc Boyer. He took this rather risky bet in 2002: open a gourmet restaurant in a somewhat isolated place. And he turned it into a success! When you taste the cuisine here now, see the place that is modern and traditional all in one go you clearly see it. The cuisine is refined, delicated, generous, a cuisine that has gourmets from around here and elsewhere coming in great numbers. This is a promising address that has more than one trick in store for you! A well of flavours and scents that we encourage you to discover close to Lastours. Modern and pleasant with a very large terrace overlooking the river and overhanging the 4 Cathar castles. The compositions are often renewed to surprise you and charm you several times....


Campsite Domaine Naturiste la Vitarelle

Campsite Domaine Naturiste la Vitarelle - Villaniere



Situated 25 km to the north of Carcassonne on the south facing slopes of the Montagne Noire, La Vitarelle is in the heart of Cathar country, close to the Haut-Languedoc. At 500 m above sea level, it enjoys both Mediterranean days and cool, pleasant nights. La Vitarelle offers naturist holidays as close to nature as possible. There are merely 25 pitches within its 13 hectares (30 acres), surrounded by vaste tracts of pine, chesnut and other woodlands....


La Table d'Orélise

La Table d'Orélise - Cuxac-Cabardès



Welcome to our modern, warm and family-run establishment, located in the heart of the Montagne Noire on the road to Mazamet. La Table d'Orélise is just 20 km from the city of Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi, and 15 km from the famous Les Quatre Châteaux de Lastours. Aurélien Jeanne, chef with 15 years of professional experience. Elise Jeanne, his wife, has also been cooking for 10 years. We acquired the Hotel Restaurant Cuxac-Cabardès in February 2017. After two months of renovation, we were able to open our doors in April 2017. Come and have a good time at La Table d'Orélise. Our high terrace overlooks the village and reveals a beautiful view of the river. Perfectly exposed to the sun but protected from the radiation by a pergola, discover this pleasant place in the Montagne Noire...


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