It is said that a visit to Montsegur and specifically the climb to the Château gives everyone who undertakes it a special feeling. The feeling commences on the first sight of Château on the road from Foix.The old secret cathar routes are now signposted, well, at least where they cross the modern roads.

The rock itself is relatively slim so when in the Château there is no sense of being supported from below. For me the experience took the form of a very slight vertigo, but not at all unpleasant or threatening. It was as if I might be able to float. On many days there are clouds below the peak which makes the experience even more impressive.

Monsegur was the setting of the final defeat of the Cathars at the end of the Albigensian Crusade. Approaching it from the east it seems improbable that it ever could be captured, sat as it is, on top of its pillar of rock.

I had visited Monsegur during my first visit to the area, because in Rennes I had been told that one possible source for the treasure of Rennes was not the Visigothic treasure but Cathar treasure smuggled out during the last days of the siege.


On the day of the summer solstice the first rays of the sun pass directly through the arrow slits and out again through arrow slits on the other side

The windows are aligned to make this possible.

To observe this phenomenon it is necessary to climb Monsegur the previous the previous evening and camp on top of the mountain overnight.

Even on mid summers day it can be cold but the experience makes it worthwhile.


It is also pointed out that the ruined Château we see today is not the Cathar strongpoint which was finally captured and its occupants slaughtered in 1244. The Château was rebuilt after this event and so the alignment is not considered to have any significance for the cathar faith. However new buildings were often founded on previous buildings and the alignment may have been copied from the earlier structure

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Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. 

He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’