The French city of Carcassonne, situated in the Languedoc region, is widely known as a fortified city on the north bank of the River Aude. All turrets, towers and ramparts, the historic Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and even features its own basilica, the Basilica of St-Nazaire. This is Europe’s largest medieval town and its city walls are still intact after being completely restored by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the late 19th century. Carcassonne’s “lower” town, however, has a more modern vibe, with charming streets that play host to entertainers, gift shops, restaurants, tapestry galleries and outdoor cafes.
The Canal du Midi crossed by the Pont Marengo is another tourist draw in the area. The canal, lined by overhanging trees, was constructed in the 1600s, and is popular for bank-side strolls and boat rides.
The Languedoc region is blessed with a Mediterranean climate – hot, dry weather from June to August with rain setting in from December through February. The area typically experiences about 300 sunny days a year.
April to September is peak season in Carcassonne. This is when most tourists throng the medieval city and when most visitors with nearby second homes arrive.
October to March is the low season. Some attractions have shorter opening hours during these months.
Carcassonne’s medieval city is small enough that you can easily walk around. But for the rest of the city, you may want to take the bus, which is efficient and reasonably priced. Buy a transport pass for the entire day or just for an hour – it gives you unlimited rides over the entire transport system.