Straddling a stony hill, the ancient fortified city of Carcassonne boasts a rich history spanning more than 2,000 years. The castle-clad medieval charm extends throughout the Heritage-listed Old City, while Carcassonne is also home to trendy cafes, galleries and live entertainment.
Things to Do
Dive into the history and magic of Cite Medievale, a labyrinthine cluster of winding passageways, spiked turrets, ramparts and battlements. More than 50 stone towers pierce the sky with classic “witch’s hat” rooftops. You can also enter the 12th-century Chateau de Remparts to walk the ramparts and access restricted sections of the battlements.
Outside the walls, the Lower City of Bastide de Saint-Louis thrives as a modern enclave of shopping, dining and nightlife. Stroll Place Carnot and have lunch in one of the homey cafes, then get a photo of the 1700s-era Fountain of Neptune. Snag some tickets for a concert, opera or play at the Grand Theatre.
For an impressive and thorough collection of French art dating back to the 1600s, visit the Musee des Beaux-Arts. Eight galleries highlight different genres and periods, such as Flemish and Dutch art from the 17th century. Admire the Romanesque and Gothic architecture at Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus, along with sculptures and stained-glass windows.
In the evening, book a table for traditional French cuisine at Au Comte Roger, located inside the citadel. You can also try a regional version of cassoulet at L’Atelier de Robert Rodriguez, which offers a “taste workshop” of classic Languedoc dishes.
Getting around Carcassonne
Taxis and public buses are available year-round, with shuttles running between the main areas. You can rent a car at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, one hour’s drive away.