Carcassonne, located in the Occitanie region of southern France, is a captivating city that boasts a rich history, stunning architecture, and a charming medieval atmosphere. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Carcassonne:
1. The Medieval City (La Cité)
A UNESCO World Heritage site and the main attraction in Carcassonne, the Medieval City is a fortified citadel that dates back to the Gallo-Roman period. Explore its narrow cobblestone streets, imposing walls, and medieval architecture, including the impressive Château Comtal. The views from the ramparts are breathtaking.
2. Basilica of Saint-Nazaire
Located within the Medieval City, this Romanesque-Gothic basilica is a true architectural gem. Marvel at its intricate stained glass windows, ancient sculptures, and beautiful interior decoration.
3. Canal du Midi
Take a leisurely stroll along the banks of the Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage site that runs through Carcassonne. This 17th-century canal offers picturesque views and is perfect for a relaxing walk or a boat ride.
4. Pont Vieux
Cross the Pont Vieux, a beautiful stone bridge that spans the Aude River. From here, you can enjoy panoramic views of both the Medieval City and the Ville Basse.
5. Museum of Fine Arts
If you’re interested in art, visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Carcassonne. The museum houses an impressive collection of European paintings and sculptures from the 17th to the 20th century.
6. Bastide Saint-Louis
Just outside the Medieval City, you’ll find the Bastide Saint-Louis, a 13th-century fortified town. This area offers a more relaxed atmosphere with wide boulevards, charming squares, and a range of shops and restaurants.
7. Local Cuisine
Indulge in the delicious local cuisine of Carcassonne. Sample traditional dishes like cassoulet, a hearty stew made with white beans and various meats, and enjoy the region’s excellent wines, including the famous reds from the nearby Minervois and Corbières vineyards.
8. Festivals and Events
Check out the events happening in Carcassonne during your visit. The city hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, including the Festival de Carcassonne, which features music, theater, and dance performances in stunning settings like the Medieval City and the Théâtre Jean-Deschamps.
9. The Narbonnaise Gate
As you enter the Medieval City, make sure to pass through the Narbonnaise Gate, the main entrance to the fortress. Admire the intricate stonework and the imposing towers that guard the entrance. This gate is an iconic symbol of Carcassonne.
10. Château Comtal
Within the Medieval City, you’ll find the Château Comtal, a well-preserved medieval castle. Explore its fortified walls, towers, and courtyards. Inside, you’ll discover a museum that showcases the history and architecture of Carcassonne.
11. Truffle Market
If you visit Carcassonne between November and March, don’t miss the Truffle Market. Held on Saturdays, it’s an opportunity to taste and purchase the prized black truffles of the region. The market is a sensory delight, with the earthy aroma of truffles filling the air.
12. Wine Tasting
Carcassonne is surrounded by renowned wine regions. Take advantage of the opportunity to visit local vineyards and enjoy wine tastings. Sample the region’s famous Minervois, Corbières, and Limoux wines, and learn about the winemaking traditions of the area.
13. Le Pont Vieux Wine Bar
For a unique wine experience, head to Le Pont Vieux Wine Bar. Located near the Pont Vieux, this cozy wine bar offers an extensive selection of local wines. Savor a glass of your favorite wine while enjoying the rustic ambiance and friendly atmosphere.
14. Le Parc Australien
Escape the medieval charm for a while and visit Le Parc Australien, a themed park dedicated to Australian wildlife. Explore the park’s extensive grounds, encounter kangaroos, wallabies, and emus, and learn about Australia’s diverse flora and fauna.
15. Boat Cruise on the Canal du Midi
Experience the tranquility of the Canal du Midi with a boat cruise. Relax on a canal boat and admire the beautiful scenery as you glide along the waterway. Some cruises offer commentary on the history and engineering marvels of the canal.
16. Outdoor Activities
The Carcassonne region offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Go hiking or cycling in the surrounding countryside, kayak down the Aude River, or try your hand at fishing in the nearby lakes and rivers.
17. Nighttime Illumination
Image Source: https://www.remparts-lumieres.com/en/
Witness the magical nighttime illumination of the Medieval City. As darkness falls, the walls and buildings are bathed in a warm golden light, creating a truly enchanting atmosphere. Take a leisurely walk through the illuminated streets and marvel at the city’s beauty.
18. The Museum of the Inquisition
Delve into the dark history of the Inquisition at the Museum of the Inquisition (Musée de l’Inquisition). Located within the Medieval City, this museum provides insight into the religious persecution that took place during the Middle Ages. Explore the exhibits, which include instruments of torture, manuscripts, and displays on the lives of those affected by the Inquisition.
19. Le Parc de la Villette
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and spend some time in the serene Le Parc de la Villette. This peaceful park is located just outside the Medieval City and offers beautiful green spaces, gardens, and scenic views. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
20. The Museum of the School of Carcassonne
Step back in time and visit the Museum of the School of Carcassonne (Musée de l’École de Carcassonne). Housed in a former school building, the museum provides a glimpse into the education system of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Explore the classrooms, see vintage educational materials, and learn about the history of education in Carcassonne.
21. Bastion Saint-Louis
Located within the Medieval City, the Bastion Saint-Louis offers panoramic views of Carcassonne and the surrounding countryside. Climb to the top of this defensive structure to enjoy breathtaking vistas of the city’s rooftops, the Aude River, and the rolling hills beyond.
22. Lac de la Cavayère
Located just a few kilometers from Carcassonne, Lac de la Cavayère is a picturesque lake surrounded by forests and hills. It’s a perfect spot for outdoor activities such as swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and hiking. There are also picnic areas and playgrounds, making it a great destination for families.
23. Golf de Carcassonne
Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a round of golf at Golf de Carcassonne. This 18-hole course is set amidst the beautiful landscape of vineyards and offers a challenging yet enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels.
24. Les Halles Prosper Montagné
Experience the lively atmosphere of Les Halles Prosper Montagné, the central food market in Carcassonne. Browse the stalls filled with fresh local produce, cheeses, meats, and other gastronomic delights. It’s a fantastic place to indulge in a delicious meal or pick up some ingredients for a picnic.
25. Narbonne Plage
Located approximately 70 kilometers from Carcassonne, Narbonne Plage is a popular seaside resort on the Mediterranean coast. It offers a wide sandy beach, clear blue waters, and a range of amenities including beachside restaurants, water sports activities, and beach clubs.
26. Gruissan Plage
Situated near Narbonne, Gruissan Plage is known for its long sandy beaches and picturesque surroundings. The beach is backed by dunes and the iconic Gruissan Tower, providing a stunning backdrop for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.
27. Leucate Plage
About 80 kilometers from Carcassonne, Leucate Plage is a charming coastal town known for its sandy beaches and pristine waters. It offers a variety of beachfront activities, such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, and beach volleyball. The nearby cliffs of Leucate also provide a scenic backdrop.
Places and Things To Do