How to visit the medieval city of Carcassonne?

Located in the south of France, on the right bank of the river Aude, Carcassonne is a fascinating city. With its imposing ramparts, majestic castle and picturesque streets, Europe's largest medieval city invites you to take a trip back to the heart of the Middle Ages, to the time of knights, crusaders and builders. What to do, what to see, what to visit in Carcassonne? Follow the guide!

A walk in the medieval city of Carcassonne

Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1997, the medieval city of Carcassonne attracts almost 4 million visitors every year. A large part of the Cité Médiévale can be visited on foot and with your nose in the air to admire the architecture. In the summer, the tourist office offers guided tours to make sure you don't miss any of the city's main monuments and tourist sites.

The ramparts walk

Built between the 3rd and 5th centuries, the ramparts are one of Carcassonne's must-see monuments. The double enclosure has preserved more than three kilometres of ramparts. A walk along the ramparts offers magnificent views of the Aude region and the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees. You can leave from the Porte Narbonnaise, the eastern entrance to the ramparts, or the Porte de l'Aude, to the west, the main entrance to the upper town. You can take a small tourist train to tour the ramparts from the outside.

DID YOU KNOW? The medieval city of Carcassonne is the largest fortress in Europe, protected by 52 towers and three kilometres of ramparts built between the 10th and 13th centuries. Saved from ruin in the 19th century by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, it has been restored for over fifty years.

Visit the Château Comtal

Once inside the ramparts, stroll through the cobbled and winding streets of the fortified town. In the heart of the medieval city, in the shadow of the towers and ramparts, the Château Comtal of Carcassonne is an impressive fortress built in the 12th century by the Viscounts of Trencavel, one of the most powerful feudal houses in the Languedoc. For €9.50 per adult (free for minors), a tour gives access to the interior of the castle, the battlements and the archaeological museum, which houses a collection of sculptures from Antiquity and the Middle Ages. As a bonus, there is a spectacular view of the Pyrenees, the Montagne Noire and the Bastide of Carcassonne.

DID YOU KNOW? The castle of Carcassonne was the setting for the film "Les Visiteurs" released in 1993. It is the castle that can be seen in the first few minutes of the film which recounts the adventures of the knight Godefroy de Montmirail and his faithful squire Jacquouille la Fripouille.

A short diversions to the Saint-Nazaire basilica

Incredible architecture in pure Gothic style! Built during the reign of Theodore, regent of the Visigothic Kingdom, the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire was visited by Pope Urban II, who came to Carcassonne in 1096. Nicknamed "the jewel of the city", it has been enlarged and restored over the centuries. The stained glass windows are magnificent, what a job to make them!

Discovery of the bastide Saint-Louis

Beyond, on the left bank of the Aude, lies the "lower town" of Carcassonne. This is where the bastide Saint-Louis is located, with its market halls and Saint-Michel cathedral. Built in 1260, the Bastide Saint-Louis is linked to the medieval city by the famous Pont Vieux. You can explore the bastide on foot, passing through the flowery alleys of the Gambetta Square, the pretty Carnot Square and the Fine Arts Museum, all the way to the port of the Canal du Midi, another UNESCO listed site.

Stroll along the Canal du Midi

This historic canal runs through the city of Carcassonne and offers beautiful scenery, with pleasure boats and houses along its banks. You can take a guided boat trip on the Canal du Midi, hire a barge, or simply hire a bike or walk along the banks to admire the views.

photo credit : Daniel Nettesheim /Pixabay

How to visit the medieval city of Carcassonne?
Ville fortifiée de Carcassonne dans le Languedoc

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Olydea - Hameau de JouarresHameau de Jouarres
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