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Overview

A truly unforgettable adventure

Join Ed Steidle, a scholar of the literature and art of medieval and Renaissance Europe, and trail expert Peter Watson on this new Stanford walk through the former province of Languedoc. As we walk from Southwest France to Catalunya in Spain, indulge in regional dishes such as cassoulet accompanied by some of the famous local wines from the Languedoc.

Explore the Albigensian bastides, medieval villages perched along the cliffs overlooking the Aveyron River. Visit some of the spectacularly situated, impregnable mountain strongholds built by the Cathars and reputed to hold hidden treasure.

Dates

September 27–October 8, 2022

Duration

12 days

Price

From $9,995 per person

Trip size

32 participants

Minimum age

18 years

Faculty leader

A different kind of classroom

With renowned Stanford faculty and scholars leading the way, every Travel/Study trip is a one-of-a-kind educational experience.

Ed Steidle

Continuing Studies

Dr. Steidle's background is in comparative literature and medieval literature, and he teaches on the arts and literatures of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Itinerary

A walk through southwest France and Catalunya

Learn the extraordinary history of the people of the Languedoc and the Cathar heretics, driven from their homes by French troops and the Inquisition. Throughout our journey, take in the scenery that inspired renowned painters such as Albi-born Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and a young Pablo Picasso, who spent a summer in the shadow of the great Serra del Cadí.

  • Toulouse, France / Albi

    Arrive at Toulouse airport and transfer to Albi. This town, home of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and one of the finest cathedrals in the South of France, gave its name to the Albigensian Crusade and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. We stay at a fine riverside property, a member of the Relais & Châteaux association. This evening join fellow walkers for a welcome reception and dinner.

    Accommodations:

    La Réserve Albi

    Included meal: Dinner
  • Cordes-sur-Ciel, France

    Today walk to Cordes-sur-Ciel, one of the beautiful towns known as the bastides albigeoises, built by the victorious French after their subjugation of the Languedoc. These delightful fortified medieval villages dotting the local cliffs and hills were once symbols of repression to their 13th-century inhabitants.

    Accommodations:

    La Réserve Albi

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Albi, France / Lastours / Carcassonne

    We spend the morning walking through Albi and visiting the spectacular red brick cathedral that dominates the town. Built in the southern Romanesque style in the late 14 century, the church is a remarkable testament to the powers of religious orthodoxy. Later this morning we drive south to the Montagne Noire to the four châteaux of Lastours, the most famous of which is the supremely evocative Cabaret set on a spur above the meander of the Orbiel River. This stronghold surrendered to Simon de Montfort in 1211. Our afternoon walk gives us a brief taste of the scenery on the southern slopes of this isolated region. From here we continue by coach to the impressive medieval town of Carcassonne, where we spend the next three nights in the renowned Hôtel de la Cité.

    Accommodations:

    Hôtel de la Cité Carcassonne

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Montréal, France / Fanjeaux

    This morning we drive a short distance to the west to the small fortified towns of Montréal and Fanjeaux. It was here that Saint Dominic had his first encounters with the Cathars and established his first monastery in the Languedoc. We follow in his footsteps as we walk between the two villages and down to Prouille, still home to the Dominicans today, where we have lunch. Later we return to Carcassonne by road for a guided visit of this extraordinary town.

    Accommodations:

    Hôtel de la Cité Carcassonne

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Foix, France / Montségur

    We drive south to the town of Foix where we can see the fine old castle and cathedral. Next we stop at the village and castle of Montségur. This great stronghold of the Cathars’ proved to be a thorn in the side of the French royal forces. After our picnic lunch, we set off from the château for a walk through the woods and along open ridges continuing down into the valley. We return to Carcassonne by road.

    Accommodations:

    Hôtel de la Cité Carcassonne

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Carcassonne, France / Fontfroide / Bélesta

    Heading east we leave the hills behind and make our way across the garrigue, or scrublands, of southern France. Our walk leads past the vineyards and forests of the Corbières to visit the Cistercian Abbey at Fontfroide, founded at the end of the 11th century. The murder of Pierre de Castlenau, a monk from this bastion of orthodoxy, was the direct cause of the Albigensian Crusade in 1208. This evening we continue by road to the town of Bélesta, where we spend the next two nights at a renovated winery.

    Accommodations:

    Domaine Riberach

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Bélesta, France / Prades / Bélesta

    Prades was a well-known refuge for the Cathars as their castles were being besieged farther north in the lowlands of the Languedoc. We pass through the town as we cross the valley onto the iconic Canigou massif, as our splendid mountain walk takes us through some of the loveliest scenery of the trip. In the late afternoon, we return to our hotel by road.

    Accommodations:

    Domaine Riberach

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Bélesta / La Seu d’Urgell, Spain

    We drive west, and to the border with Spain and Catalunya. Here we walk through the dramatic scenery of the Cerdanya mountains to a beautiful remote tarn. We continue this afternoon to La Seu d’Urgell, the last bishopric in Spain.

    Accommodations:

    Hotel El Castell de Ciutat

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Cadí Massif, Spain

    A morning walk along tracks and paths high in the mountains leads across the flank of the magnificent Serra del Cadí. This region is famed as the final refuge of the Cathar heretics, and its landscapes inspired the young Pablo Picasso. Following our picnic lunch, we continue our path before returning to to our Relais & Châteaux property in La Seu d’Urgell.

    Accommodations:

    Hotel El Castell de Ciutat

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • La Seu d’Urgell, Spain / Organyà / Barcelona

    We depart La Seu d’Urgell and head south, pausing for a short walk along the southern edge of the Cadí mountains in the little town of Organyà, home of the oldest known texts written in the Catalan language. After a final picnic lunch, we drive down to the plains until we reach the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona for our final two nights.

    Accommodations:

    Monument Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Barcelona

    A full day in Barcelona begins with an optional guided tour of some of the iconic sights of this vibrant, artistic city. The afternoon is free for independent exploration. This evening join fellow travelers for a farewell reception and celebration dinner.

    Accommodations:

    Monument Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast and dinner
  • Barcelona / Home

    Transfer to the airport for outbound flights.

    Included meal: Breakfast

Trip details

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village town on hillside overlooking valley

Pricing

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The price of your trip covers a comprehensive educational program in addition to meals, accommodations, tours and excursions. Continue reading for a full list of what’s included.

colorful view of barcelona cityscape

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