Drawing more than three million visitors every year, Carcassonne is a popular attraction in France and in 1997 was declared a World Heritage site.
Carcassonne is situated in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, and is located between Narbonne and Toulouse and near Canal du Midi, another World Heritage location.
The fortified walled city dates back to medieval times and is essentially a whole city which is basically one enormous castle that overlooks Ville Basse where most residents live today. As of 2014, the population of Carcassonne was 45,941.
La cite de Carcassonne
The castle is called La cite de Carcassonne. Two rows of fortified wall encircle the castle for almost two miles, and has fifty six impressive and imposing watchtowers. The history of Carcassonne is quite impressive, going back to 3500BC when Carsac the city was a significant trading hub. In 1849 the castle was almost demolished due to serious disrepair, but thankfully in 1853 work began on refortifying and renovating the city.
The lovely scenery that surrounds the city can be seen by walking along the fortifications of the castle. Various defense mechanisms used to be set into place so as to protect this city, which can be discovered by visiting the towers. There is a bird show at Les Aigles de La Cite that features raptors which are trained in accordance with medieval tradition. They are allowed to fly freely then come back to their falconer when called. There is also a show about medieval life that will take one right back into the life and times of the historical Middle Ages.
Bastille Day in France: The Fireworks in Carcassonne
July 14th is a national holiday for the French, and a fireworks display is traditionally held at Carcassonne every year. Carcassonne also lays claim to the first bottle of French bubbly being born near here at the beginning of the 16thcentury. Eight miles away a monk discovered his corked wine bottles became effervescent after a few months. Voila! The beginnings of sparkling wine!
- There is a train line linking Toulouse and Narbonne to Carcassonne. It takes fifty minutes on the train from Toulouse and will cost about 10 euro.
- During the summertime, cars are forbidden to drive within the La Cite walls in the daytime because of tourists clogging the very narrow streets.
- The airport is situated 5.5km from the town, and in summer a bus drives from the airport and into town.
- A hostel is located inside the La Cite plus there is a wide choice of accommodations found within Ville Basse.
- A whole day can be spent strolling the cobble-stoned medieval streets and perusing the shops.
- A peasant stew called cassoullet can be savored at the various cafes lining the streets.
Other attractions to enjoy would be the ramparts and castle tour, and a museum with the history of the town. There is some beautiful stained glass found at the Basilica Saint-Nazaire, with detailed carvings inside and outside.
The weather in Carcassonne is temperate year round, and fall and spring are the perfect time to visit Carcassonne as summertime gets an influx of tourists.