The commune of Castelnaudary is one that you must visit and explore on your south of France holidays. While the commune’s name is famous worldwide for its meaty, slow-cooked casserole called Cassoulet, it also boasts some incredible historical monuments. Located in the Aude department, Castelnaudary is home to approximately 12,000 people. Its status as a market town with a rich history and heritage makes it a perfect place for tourists.
How To Get There
Toulouse is the nearest major city and has an airport. Fly to Toulouse and take a train directly to Castelnaudary or hire a taxi to take you to the commune. For budget travelers, there are ride-sharing options as well. A train journey to Castelnaudary from Toulouse would take around 40 minutes, while a car journey would take approximately 1 hour 40 minutes. The distance between Toulouse and Castelnaudary is about 38 miles (61 km).
History & Culture
Throughout history, the commune has witnessed numerous sieges and massacres, most tragic during the 100 Years War. However, from the late 15th century onward, Castelnaudary has seen more positives than negatives, like the construction of iconic landmarks such as the L’lle de la Cybele and the Canal du Midi. Culturally, the commune has much in common with the rest of southern France. Its people are amicable and welcoming.
Top Things To Do
- Visit the Saint-Michel Collegiate Church: The 13th-century church features exemplary Gothic architecture and is at the commune’s center.
- Visit the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy: The chapel’s gilded wood-carved panels from the 18th century make for incredible sights. The 16th-century chapel is one of the must-see places in Castelnaudary, France.
- Experience the Cugarel Mill: In the 17th century, 32 mills were constructed in Castelnaudary. Even though they’re not in operation now, they still make for a splendid sight.
Activities to try
- Take a boat ride on the Canal du Midi: The Canal du Midi, constructed in the late 17th century, is perhaps Castelnaudary’s most famous landmark. Tourists can experience it by taking boat rides.
- Eat the Cassoulet: No Castelnaudary experience is complete without trying the Cassoulet, which you’ll readily get across the numerous commune eateries.
Eat And Drink
The commune offers plenty of eateries that serve the authentic food of southern France.
Castelnaudary has several accommodation options. You can find hotels, Bed & Breakfast options, and vacation rental properties catering to all budgets in the commune.
Best Time To Visit
The April – November period is ideal to visit and experience Castelnaudary as the weather stays pleasant. The commune experiences cold temperatures during winter, so you may want to bundle up. The April – November period also sees numerous celebratory events such as the July 13 fireworks celebrations, the night markets across July and August, and the Cassoulet Day in August.
It’s recommended to explore the commune on foot. Cycling in Castelnaudary, France, is another option. However, if you’re short on time, feel free to get around in a rental taxi.