Carcassonne Citadel is a Medieval Treasure in Southern France.
One of the highlights of my Canal du Midi cruise with European Waterways was a morning in the Citadel of Carcassonne. The barge captain was surprised I had not heard of Carcassonne Citadel as it is one of France’s premier tourist attractions. But, as you know, I have only been to France once before, and that was to a different region.
So, here is what I learned about Carcassonne Citadel…
- It is the most complete medieval fortified town in existence today and the largest in Europe.
- It has about 2,500 years of history and was occupied by the Romans, Visigoths, and Crusaders at different periods.
- Three kilometres of double walls interspersed with 52 watchtowers surround the citadel.
- It is a lived-in citadel with houses, schools, shops, restaurants, hotels, basilica, and museums.
- The citadel is open 24/7 and is free to enter. However, there is an admission fee to visit Carcassonne Castle and its ramparts.
- Carcassonne Citadel was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
European Waterways took us on a two-hour guided walking tour around the walls, through the citadel, and into the Basilica Saint Nazaire. We were given admission tickets for the castle and ramparts, but I didn’t see them. After going to the toilet and watching the visual display at the entrance, I had to leave the castle as it was time to meet our guide to leave Carcassonne.
Our visit to Carcassonne Citadel was too rushed and deserved so much more time. I could have spent 2-3 days there instead of the few hours allocated to the visit.
- I would stay within the citadel. From my view of its exterior, the Hotel de la Cite next to the basilica appealed to me. That it is a 5-star hotel probably added to that appeal, even if it is beyond my budget.
- Exploring the castle beyond the toilet block would be a bonus. And I am told the views from the ramparts are stunning. But I would want to walk them to see for myself.
- I would like to eat at the many restaurants, buy lots of nougat, and shop until I drop. The clothes and leather goods shops were of particular interest.
- Three days would give me time to visit some of the museums within the citadel and Carcassonne city, for example, the School Museum, the Museum of the Inquisition, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Perhaps I need four days!
Did you know there is a Carcassonne board game? Apparently, it is one of the most beloved and well-known board games in the world. I have never heard of it. Just something else to add to my ignorance about Carcassonne!
Next stop, Spain.
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© Just Me Travel 2018-2023.
Have you been to Carcassonne Citadel? What would you recommend I include on my next, more in-depth visit? Leave a comment below.
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Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and follow government advice.
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