Carcassonne is a small town in the French province of Languedoc. It attracts the attention of thousands of tourists with its fortress walls and castle. This is a real, well-preserved medieval city, of which there are very few left in the world. So, let's go!
How to get to Carcassonne
Oddly enough, the small city has its own international airport, which is of course outside the fortress walls. Low-cost European airlines fly here regularly. A ticket from Paris will cost from 120 euros, and for prices from other cities, see this link. Connecting flights will generally take much longer than a train journey.
From Paris you can get to Carcassonne by train in 6-7 hours. The ticket price is from 70 euros. You can come from other cities like Barcelona as well. Find suitable tickets here.
The most convenient way to get to Carcassonne is from Toulouse. The train from Toulouse to Carcassonne departs from Matabiau station at 7:40 am, tickets start from 10 euros. In only 40 minutes you'll be in a medieval city!
The easiest way to see the sights is to book a one-day bus tour and not have to worry about anything. See this link for one option for such a tour. If you are happy with the bus ride, but want to manage your time on your own, choose your bus tickets to Carcassonne here.
Don't forget that it's possible to rent a car in Toulouse. The road trip to Carcassonne will take only one hour.
The best time to go to Carcassonne
Carcassonne has good weather all year round. However, it can be hot in summer. The city saw a record 42 degrees C (107 degress F) on one August day. But it is in the summer that festivals and performances of artists take place in the city.
It is worth noting that the medieval city does also carefully prepare for Christmas. Street decorations and traditional treats at fairs appear here, so it's another great time to visit.
What to see in Carcassonne
Carcassonne is divided into two parts: the old and the new. when you arrive at the train station, you find yourself in a new city. There is a tourist office where you can get a map, find out about the main attractions of Carcassonne and ask any questions you have about the city.
The main attraction of Carcassonne is, of course, the medieval city. Everyone who visits goes to this small town. It is not difficult to get to the fortress from the station, but the journey will take 20-30 minutes.
On the mountain rises a huge fortress with a castle: this is the medieval city of Cité. They began to build it back in the 12th century. Its history has developed in different ways, but the main thing is that a great restoration took place in the 19th century, and today we can see one of the last medieval castles in Europe.
The castle in the Cité Carcassonne has its own name, Château Comtal. The entrance ticket costs 9.5 euros, and you can buy it in advance using this link. The visit begins with a short film about the history of the castle, and then you can walk around the entire structure, inspect the rooms and the dungeon, visit the castle museum with an excellent collection of medieval sculpture and see the museum of the Inquisition.
The castle makes an indelible impression, especially in the evening light.
The Basilica of Saint-Nazaire deserves a special mention. It was built in the 11th century AD in the Romanesque style, and in the 13th century it received Gothic features with the expansion.
There are also places worth visiting in the new Carcassonne. The list is similar to any French city:
City Hall Hotel de Ville
Market Les Halles
Museum of Fine Arts
Chapel of Notre Dame de la Sante
Cathedral Saint Michel
Near the castle, you can also take a ride on a pleasure boat along the canal that connects the Atlantic with the Mediterranean Sea. 15 minutes from the city there is Lake Cavayer with a comfortable sandy beach. And in 20 minutes you can visit one of the deepest caves in the world, Cabrepin, which the locals call "the grotto of the fairies."
Where to stay in Carcassonne
Many tourists come to Carcassonne for just one day. And in many cases this is enough. But sometimes there are exceptions. Festivals, fireworks and other events are worth staying for. Who wouldn't want to look at the castle in the evening lights?
We recommend that you stay at a hotel in the fortress itself or in a medieval town. A good option would be a hotel room on the banks of the Aude River with a view of the castle. To see all Carcassonne hotels, follow this link.
What to bring home from Carcassonne
In the castle itself you will find many souvenir shops and shops with local sweets.
In addition to standard souvenirs, you can buy products from neighboring Provence: famous soaps, paintings, various utensils, etc.
Children will be delighted with knight or princess costumes, and there are plenty of children's shops with similar armor in Carcassonne.
And, of course, wine. The city is located in the Languedoc province, and this region is famous for its wine and cuisine. In addition to wine, Carcassonne also has its own chocolate and many desserts.
You can't take it home, but you should definitely try the ice cream!
Excursions in Carcassonne
A visit to the fortress and medieval city in Carcassonne is free. You only need to pay for the entrance to the Château Comtal. But just admiring the old walls is not as interesting as walking in the company of a guide, who has an interesting story or legend about every pebble. For all the options for excursions, see this link.
Enjoy your trip to Carcassonne!