Extract from the book ‘Travels through History : France” available here
Catharism was an austere religion following the gnostic philosophy of God and Satan as two separate beings – God was associated with purity and Satan with every aspect of evil. Catharism encouraged its followers to adopt asceticism and celibacy even after marriage. Those who wished to serve became Perfects (Parfaits) after a demanding ceremony called a Consolamentum. This ceremony was deemed unnatural by the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope issued a Papal bull decreeing it as sacrilegious. In 1095 the Roman Catholic Church started crusades in the Middle East. After the embarrassment of the 4th Crusade (1202 – 1204) that had ended in the Sack of Constantinople – which meant most soldiers on the Crusade didn’t reach The Holy Land – Pope Innocent III turned his attention closer to home and became particularly interested in the Languedoc, where some of the people practiced a separate sect of Christianity called Catharism.
This tip concerns Carcassonne, an essential visit in the south of France.
Once the crowds have left and the streets are nearly deserted apart from a pigeon walking down the Rue St Jean, the outer walls and inner walls are properly illuminated and it is time to walk along the ‘Lices basses’ and the ‘Lices hautes’ – the areas between the outer and inner walls which were used in medieval times for archery practice and jousting.
The views of the inner walls are stunning and you will probably have the place to yourself. Cameras will need to be set to use a Tungsten light setting and an ISO of 800/1600. Creative photographers will love the black shadows and butterscotch walls, especially when there are arches and/or towers in the picture.