I spent several weeks this fall exploring a controversy that echoed across the southwest of France: The question of whether the heretics known as the Cathars existed or not. You can read more about the discussion in my story for the Los Angeles Times.
Whatever comes from the debate, the Cathars are destined to remain an important part of the tourism draw to this region, particularly in the Aude Departement which has embraced the label “Pays Cathares.” The tale is a fascinating and critical part of early modern European history, and the sites associated with the Cathars offer a stunning tour through the region’s patrimoine and gorgeous landscape.
To learn more about the Cathars, you can visit see a list of sites here. You can also check out this trail that takes you through some parts of the Cathar region. And in the meantime, you check out these photos of Cathar castles and abbeys that were provided courtesy of the Aude Tourism office.