Mazamet Catharism Museum

Shedding light on a dark history

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Departing from Carcassonne, the road leaves the vineyards and the Midi canal in order to embark across Cabardès. A beautiful forest suddenly gives way to a low mountain range. Oak trees, chestnut trees and tall ferns accompany the road along the increasingly steep slopes. Mazamet lies at the foot of a cliff, guarded by the village and Hautpoul Castle.


The name "Hautpoul" has been used since the 10th century. In 1096, Pierre-Raymond d'Hautpoul distinguished himself at the siege of Antioche, during the First Crusade, in Palestine. In the 12th century, the lords of Hautpoul were of the Cathar faith. This Christian conflict was firmly entrenched in the region, and a crusade was launched by Pope Innocent III to eradicate Catharism. Simon de Montfort, the leader of the crusaders, wreaked havoc on the region, but did not succeed in eradicating Catharism from the area, as it was well-established in society. Like Quéribus or Puilaurens, various Cathar clergymen and believers found refuge in Hautpoul during the Crusade, and for a long time afterwards. However, the Inquisition, which was becoming increasingly powerful, put an end to Catharism, and it disappeared in the 14th century. Mazamet, which was built at the foot of the cliffs, replaced Hautpoul. This town contains the Museum of Catharism, which was built to recount the life, faith and destiny of the Occitan Cathars.

The Fuzier House

The Museum of Catharism is located in the Fuzier House, which is certified as a historic monument. At the end of the 19th century, it was the house of a cloth merchant and mayor of Mazamet. The Tourist Office and House of Mazamet Memories are on the ground floor. Two living rooms recreate life from the end of the 19th century. There is a reconstruction of a bourgeois living room and its furniture, but also an important family scene: the wedding of Mr Fuzier's daughter in 1908.

The visit

Enter the museum, curious. Leave the museum, passionate. We explore the history of Catharism through questions on faith, the Crusade and the Inquisition, but also morals, social organisation and daily life. During your visit, you will be moved by the substantial wall of the names of the residents of Hautpoul interrogated by the Inquisitor Ferrer in the middle of the 13th century: clergymen, believers, converts and a man burned alive. A reconstruction of a medieval room displays the hearth, a table and clothes. Take your time enjoying the maps, facsimiles, videos and tablets which liven up the visit - everyone can go at their own pace. Some prefer to read, others to listen.

Everyone is welcome

Everyone, adult or child, disabled or able-bodied, is able to create their own visit. A guide in Braille is available for blind people. Another guide presents the essential facts for mentally disabled people. Another guide brings the visit alive for children; they can go on a quest to find the answers to a quiz and a word game. Specialised equipment is available for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. We have done everything possible to allow wheelchair access into the rooms and amongst the exhibits. The joy of knowledge can be shared by all, with our beautifully illustrated and labelled panels and coloured maps, which are also available in Braille. The museum has received "Tourism and disability" certification.

Things to explore

As you walk


Wetlands are a habitat between earth and water, and play an important ecological and economical role. In the Montagne Noire in the Aude, there are a large number of different wetlands. Peat bogs are a very specific environment, created when the decomposition of organic material is blocked, creating peat. The wetland plains with water-retaining clay soil, and the wetland woods, marshes and pools soften the climatic excesses of the region, which can oscillate between droughts and floods. They also play an important role in preserving biodiversity. The flora and fauna here are very specific and often unique. Please respect these precious and fragile habitats on your hikes.

Montagne Noire wetlands