Cathar Castles - Lastours
Chateaux de Lastours
The four castles of Lastours - Cabaret, Surdespine, Quertinheux and Tour Régine - are built at an altitude of 300m and are a remarkable sight, hidden deep in the rocky valley overlooking the River Orbeil and the village below. The chateaux are best viewed from a lookout point in the hills to the west of the village. This lookout point has been developed by local authorities into an amphitheatre space with a surrounding park where you can enjoy an early evening picnic before watching the occasional “sound and light” shows over the chateaux - quite magical! The chateaux have a long and legendary history - the most ancient parts date from the Bronze Age where the burial chamber of a young girl was found. The figure is known as the Princesse au Collier - the “necklace princess” as she was found covered with several objects including amber beads and Egyptian jewellery. The chateaux also have their fair share of Cathar history - at the time the lord Pierre Roger de Cabaret was linked to the religion and allowed the Cathar parfaits (priests) to take refuge there until 1229 when the chateaux were finally taken by the northern Crusaders. After the Crusade, the King of France re-established the site, adding the forth Tour Régine, and the chateaux continued to play an important role in regional politics until the revolution, when they were abandoned. The chateaux were classed as a Monument Historique in 1905. The site is also very close to the incredible Grotte de Limousis, a cave with some of the largest crystalline formations in France, and is definitely worth a visit.
Feb - March, and 12th Nov - Dec, during the weekends and school holidays only:
April - June, and Sept: 10:00 -18:00
July and August: 9:00 -20:00
October - 11th Nov: 10:00 -17:00
Carte inter-sites (available at local tourist offices): €4
Tariffs for group of more than 10 people:
Per person: €4
Guided visits: €5.60 extra per person
Commentary visit from the lookout: €3.60 per person
For fantastic value lunches and evening meals, eat at “Les Puits du Trésor” in the heart of the village, along the River Orbeil
Chateaux de Lastours
is reached via the N118 north of Carcassonne in the direction of Mazamet, then take the D101 towards Conques-sur-Orbeil until you get to Lastours.
tel/fax: +33 (0)4 68 77 56 02
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• some images courtesy of David Muscroft