Montsegur, Midi-Pyrenees: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Montsegur in Ariege

Visit Montsegur (Midi-Pyrenees, France)

MAP & PLACES TO VISIT

Montsegur and its castle are located in the Ariege department, in the southern Midi-Pyrenees region south-east of Foix.

The village itself is small, and usually visited for the castle: high on a rocky hilltop behind the village, the castle at Montsegur is an impressive sight.

Visiting Montsegur Castle

Imposing walls of the Montségur Castle

Three castles have existed at the same location in Montsegur

  • the first castle predated the cathars and was destroyed before they arrived
  • the second castle was an important cathar stronghold in the 13th century until it fell after a long siege. The village that was inside the castle was destroyed at the same time and at the end of the siege, in March 1244, more than 200 cathars who refused to renounce their faith were burned to death below the castle
  • the third castle at Montsegur, which is largely what you see today and reached by a track from the village, was constructed / renovated during the latter part of the 13th century. Although in ruins there are substantial parts of the walls that remain

Although the castle is in ruins you can see substantial parts of the walls around the main castle courtyard as well as some remains of the original cathar dwellings just outside the castle walls. Apart from the interest of the castle itself, there are splendid views across the village of Montségur and the surrounding region from the top of the walls.

The most important day of the year for the Chateau at Montsegur is the summer solstice. On that day the rising sun passes through a series of arches, and has led to it being a major attraction, especially for enthusiasts of the cathars and their religion. This alignment with the sun is unlikely to be coincidence because a similar effect can be seen at Queribus castle.

Château de Montsegur is also sometimes associated with the story of the Holy Grail, although it should be remembered that the current castle contains essentially no vestiges of the two earlier castles on the same location. This possible association also led the castle to be of some interest to the Nazis during the Second World war.

In Montsegur village you can visit a small museum with various items from the history of the castle.

Note: photos are copyright

Aerial view of Montsegur Castle

Attractions nearby

The most westerly of the cathar castles, the Château de Montsegur is only a short distance from Foix, an interesting town that is also overlooked by an impressive castle. The principal cathar castles such as Chateau de Queribus and Chateau Peyrepertuse are to the east of Montsegur in the Aude department.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Ariege guide and the Midi-Pyrenees guide.

See also:

Map of Montsegur and places to visit

Visit near Montsegur with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Ariege

Address: Montségur, Lavelanet, Foix, Ariege, Midi-Pyrenees, 09300, France || GPS: latitude 42.8756, longitude 1.8325

Plan your visit to Montsegur, Midi-Pyrenees

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Fontaine Intermittente de Fontestorbes: site of natural beauty (9km)
  • Camon: most beautiful village (20km)

The French version of this page is at Montsegur (Francais)