Destination Guide: Carcassonne
Carcassonne, a fortified French city in Southern France, is a popular tourist destination due to its astonishing citadel. Stepping into the City of Carcassonne feels almost like entering a medieval children’s book.
While our visit of Carcassonne in late February was accompanied by strong winds and a few snowflakes, it was nothing short of amazing.
We stayed in the MGallery Hotel de la Cité Carcassonne which is situated right inside the fortification and similarly to the rest of the Cité absolutely stunning.
Château Comtal in the Cité de Carcassonne
You can enter most of the Cité de Carcassonne free of charge. During our visit there were no crowds, but in high season it is recommended to arrive early to beat the hordes of tourists.
To visit the Château Comtal, you have to purchase a ticket and will then receive an audio-guide. The château represents a second line of fortifications within the main fortification. In total there are 52 towers and if you are lucky to not be blown off by the wind (like we did) you can explore the walls by tagging on a 3 kilometres walk all around.
This experience is particularly interesting as you are able to see the castle from different perspectives. Walking on the walls is a really cool experience, too. As it was freezing cold when we visited, there was hardly any other person and we had the whole scenery to ourselves. Stunning!
Carcassonne Théâtre Jean Deschamps
Nearby the Château Comtal you will also find the ancient Jean Deschamps theatre, which is nowadays still used as a location for operas and plays.
The best way to get a view of the theatre is by walking on the castle walls as you’ll be “above” the actual theatre. However, if there are any operas or plays, this option is not available.
Basilique Saint-Nazaire in the City of Carcassonne
Another highlight of the Cité de Carcassonne is the Basilika Saint-Nazaire in the Gothic-Romanique style. It received its status as a minor basilica in 1898.
During our visit it was partly under construction on its inside. Sadly, that also meant that we weren’t allowed to enter to get an idea how the church looks from the inside.
The streets of Carcassonne Castle
When visiting Carcassonne Castle, I’d recommend to just stroll around through the town inside the castle walls a little bit. Here, you’ll walk along cobblestone streets, which still look like a thousand years ago.
There are also several interesting old buildings, which haven’t been touched in ages. While there are no particular sights, just walking through the streets and sitting down at one of the cafes or restaurants is really enjoyable.
Carcassonne Castle from outside the walls
Visiting Carcassonne Castle itself surely is an experience, but having a view of the castle from outside is really cool, too. You can also visit the fascinating historic cemetery outside the walls, where you’ll find opulent graves.
The views of the different castle gates from here and other sides of the castle are worth enjoying, too.
We also walked a little further down into town to get another perspective of the castle. Let me tell you: It’s worth it!
Even though the Castle itself might be the most interesting part of visiting Carcassonne, you should definitely get a view of it from outside, too.
Our overall impressions of Carcassonne
The City of Carcassonne is a somewhat mystical place which really lets you dive into the past and feel like you are living in a medieval town when staying overnight in the fortified city. Despite the chilly weather, our visit of this historic place was great and I can definitely recommend it to anyone that gets the chance to come to this city!
Do you have any questions about Carcassonne? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!