Perched on a rocky hilltop, the fortified city of Carcassonne is no less than the inspiration for Walt Disney’s 1959 version of sleeping beauty fairy-tales when seen from afar. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, this place has served as the most people’s idea of the perfect medieval castle. It is located 95 kilometers south-east of Toulouse the fortified city La Cité, the most impressive walled city in France, boasting 53 towers, cobble-stone paths medieval village, attracting over four million visitors every year, peaking in high summer.
The area around Carcassonne has been inhabited since the Neolithic period, but it only became relevant as a region when Romans fortified its hilltop into Cité de Carcassonne. There have been multiple campaigns to demolish and renovate it. In the mid-1800s
, renovations began to preserve it as a historical monument.
Some people describe it as a tourist-trap, boasting beautiful architecture, Mediterranean climate, amazing festivals, and more. Despite the crowds, Carcassonne is an enchanting place to visit.
Carcassonne is home to 426 hotels, B&B, Guesthouse, Chamber d’hotes. Many Carcassonne accommodations feature medieval blend with contemporary interiors so you feel the real-life experience of the history of 18-century Carcassonne romanesque period.
A stay in one of these historic Carcassonne B&B, guesthouses, Chambre d’hotes, gîtes and hotels can give you a feel for the past. Each of these unique architectures are ideally located in the heart of the city. Living in the past doesn’t mean you’ll actually live in the past as these hotels and Carcassonne bed and breakfast accommodations have many modern amenities to help you relax during your getaway.
Experience Carcassonne From Outside The Fortress
While a walk inside the La Cité pedestrian-only is interesting; the view outside the fortress is absolutely stunning. You’ll be duly impressed.
Barge Trip at The Canal du Midi
A barge trip of the Canal du Midi is a must to explore the exceptional work of Pierre-Paul Riquet, who dug it in the 17th century to connect the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts.
Explore Carcassonne Lower City
The region outside Carcassonne was built outside the walls in the 13th century on the orders of Louis IX.
Visit a Vineyard
Carcassonne is the center of the world’s largest wine region and the best AOCs of Languedoc. South of Carcassonne is famed as the place where sparkling wine was first produced in the 1500s.
La Cité Médiéval de Carcassonne
Located in the “upper town” of Carcassonne, La Cité will take you back in the history and you’ll enjoy gazing on the immense fortress from the outside and inside. Make sure to not miss a visit to the 12th-century castle called Château Comtal.
This was earlier a simple Parish church until the Episcopal seat was switched at the turn of the 19th-century. Built in the 13th century, Carcassonne Cathedral is a satisfying piece of southern gothic architecture, with an octagonal bell-tower and a beautiful rose window.
Basilica of Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Celse
This is the oldest church in Carcassonne, constructed in 1096, and was named after two first-century martyrs. Its extraordinarily colorful windows are believed to be the oldest in southern France.
As a relevant historic city, you’ll find many museums showcasing its past and artistic culture.