Last Updated on May 4, 2022
Why You Should Take a Day Trip to Carcassonne
If you’re a Game of Thrones and board game nerd, then you will appreciate a visit to the La Cité Carcassonne, France. Like the board game, this fortified city in modern Carcassonne will make you feel like you’re in a medieval movie. *Cue theme music now*. We visited Carcassonne on our way to Barcelona, Spain from Antibes which made for a great day trip to southern France. Visiting Carcassonne is definitely off the beaten path in southern France, so if you’re looking for somewhere different to go, consider visiting Carcassonne. One of the easiest ways to visit Carcassonne is by a guided tour!
La Cité Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that looks like it’s straight out of a medieval fairy-tale. Although it can be a little touristy with its souvenir shops, this historic site is full of interesting passageways and buildings to explore. As you tour Carcassonne, you will walk through time!
History of La Cité Carcassonne
The city’s three kilometers of ramparts, two fortresses (4th and 13th centuries), four gates, 52 towers, and arrow slits make for a full day of exploring.
The site, which has been inhabited since ancient times, was protected against the Late Roman Empire by a Gallo-Roman wall (which you can still see parts of today!). Over time La Cité Carcassonne served under different powers. In the 19th century, the architect Viollet-le-Duc restored the fortified city. At the time, the city was on the verge of destruction and was used as a stone quarry. For over 50 years Viollet-le-Duc and saved Carcassone and restored it to its medieval appearance.
The château at the center of the fortification was once the seat of power of the Counts of Carcassonne, the Trencavel family. The castle features exhibits about the city’s history and restoration, Romanesque frescoes, and its Roman, Romanesque and Gothic architectural artifacts.
Explores the Ramparts and Towers
The fortified city is full of narrow passageways and towers to explore. If you get the audio guide, it will walk you through interesting spots around the city. It was very easy to get lost among everything, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!
Basilica of Saint-Nazaire
The earliest authentic document mentioning this basilica dates from 925. It is suspected the church was constructed by the Visigoths. It was rebuilt several times and the one that stands today was built during the 13th century. This basilica has a Romanesque nave and aisles with a Gothic-style choir. The basilica features 13th-century stained-glass windows. Several stone pieces from the former buildings are on display in the château’s museum.
Practical Information for Visting La Cité Carcassonne
FROM 2 JANUARY TO 31 MARCH
Open every day 9:30-17:00
FROM 1ST APRIL TO 30 SEPTEMBER
Open every day 10:00-18:30
FROM 1ST OCTOBER TO 31 DECEMBER
Open every day 9:30-17:00