a walk to the castle along the medieval streets
Through the Gates of Time
The first view of the Cité is truly impressive! The imagination soars at the sight of the portcullis. Go through the Narbonnaise Gate with its two gigantic towers, the main entrance to the medieval town.
You feel like you are venturing to the heart of the Middle Ages and entering an unknown world! Off we go!
It's easy to access the Cité. There are large car parks opposite the monument, just a few minutes' walk away. Admission to the Cité is free. You only need to pay to see the castle/museum.
At the heart of the fortress
The Cité is a village where people still live. You get there along a gently rising street leading to the impressive barbican and its metal gates. This is the entrance to the castle, formerly the palace of the Viscounts of Carcassonne. This is where we're heading.
Entering the castle, the "fortress inside the fortress", gives you an idea of life in the Middle Ages. The monument and its wide-ranging systems of defence are gigantic. You can easily imagine yourself surrounded by squires, troubadours and fair damsels in this vast and impressive place!
The statue welcoming you at the entrance to the Cité depicts Dame Carcas. All the inhabitants of Carcassonne know it. According to legend, she gave her name to the city by means of a cunning trick. Blending myth and reality...
At the top of the ramparts of Carcassonne
A 360° view
We opted for the guided visit with an expert, the most in-depth visit. The guide takes you back in time with stories and anecdotes about the turbulent history of the town and its inhabitants.
We arrive at the outer walls. With the wind in your hair, you'll be amazed by the sight.
Everyone takes a break to enjoy the view! The medieval ramparts look down on the town. Towers with many different shapes, the castellated spire of the basilica, the pink roofs of the Cité and an exceptional view over the lower town, the Black Mountain and the Pyrenees. A 360° view!
In the streets of the medieval city
On the paving stones of History
The visit to the castle continues from room to room and through a maze of staircases and corridors, and concludes with the bookshop-boutique with some great souvenirs. Our walk then continues along the paved, winding streets of the old town, with its medieval shops and houses…
From one street to the next, you go from a lively, dynamic atmosphere with children laughing and shouting, to alleyways filled with silence. Then you really feel you have travelled 8 centuries back in time!
Inside the flamboyant basilica
We are standing on the Basilica Saint-Nazaire forecourt.
Be careful, the gargoyles are watching! The outside is plain and simple, and gives no sign of the flamboyance inside. The building brilliantly combines Romanesque and Gothic styles, with colourful stained-glass windows. Red, yellow, blue… when the sun shines through them, the effect is almost hypnotic.
A place inspiring an experience of serenity.
AND TO FINISH
A relaxing moment
The ultimate aim: a daydream in the sunshine with a seat on a terrace. This is all part of Carcassonne, too!
Try a little glass of regional wine with a few olives, some sunshine and friends, and all in an exceptional setting. Pure bliss!
Where to sleep and eat, what to do?
AUBERGE DES LICES
HOTEL DE L'OCTROI
CARCASSONNE CASTLE AND RAMPARTS
CENTRE D'HISTOIRE VIVANTE MEDIEVALE
- By car: Carcassonne is within easy via the A61 motorway with two exits (Carcassonne West and East). The town is a one-hour drive from Toulouse and 45 minutes from Narbonne.
- By plane: arrival at Carcassonne international airport. There is a shuttle service to the Cité of Carcassonne (€6). Taxis available at the airport.
- By train: Carcassonne station is in the town centre. 25-minute walk to the Cité. A shuttle service and taxis are also available.