TO SEE | TOWN
Visiting the medieval fortified citadel at Carcassonne in spring is the best time if you ask me. With summer being the definite peak-season, La Cité is on the must-see list of many more. During my visit in June, I could still leisurely discover the historic citadel. If you look further than the obvious tourist traps, you will appreciate its charm. Find out more about this beautiful walled town in part 2 of La Ramoneta’s guide to Carcassonne (click here for part 1).
The citadel of Carcassonne dates back a long time. Already in the third century A.D., the Romans made a fortified town out of the Gaulish settlement. I’m entering the citadel through the main gateway: “La Porte Narbonnaise”. Small cobbly streets lead me to the Saint-Nazaire Basilica. It’s like stepping back several centuries in time.
The Basilique Saint-Nazaire origins are Roman, dating back to the twelfth century. By the end of the thirteenth century, the cathedral got enlarged in Gothic style. In 1803, the cathedral became a church, giving its title to the Saint-Michel church situated in the bastide on the other side of the Aude River. Nowadays you can still admire the mixture of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Place Auguste Pierre Pont
From the Saint-Nazaire Basilica, I continue my walk to the place Auguste Pierre Pont. I really love the house right on the corner where the rue du Four and rue Saint-Louis meet. You can feel history in the air. During Summer, this modest square is the stage of some street artists. And you might even meet a real knight…
Castle of the Counts
After a short stop for an ice cream, I arrive at the castle of the citadel. Being one of the biggest fortified cities in Europe, the citadel of Carcassonne couldn’t do without a proper château. Le Château Comtal was built in the thirteenth century by the Viscounts of Carcassonne. You can visit the castle as well, by paying an entrance fee. From here, you can climb even higher and walk on the castle walls. With good weather, you can see as far as the Pyrenees.