Part 2: Discovering the heart of La Cité of Carcassonne

By June 15, 2018TO SEE, TOWN
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).

Fortified town

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.

Basilica

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.

Info

You can visit the citadel, or la Cité, of Carcassonne year-round. Entrance to the citadel itself is free; only the castle has an entrance fee. Summer can be jam-packed, the best time to visit is in Spring and Autumn.

Parking

If you enter the citadel by the Nabonnaise gate, you will get directed to a paid parking lot ( P1 at Chemin de Montlegun). Just follow the signs to the Cité. If you want to enter the citadel by the Aude gate, follow the signs to Carcassonne centre and then P2 (Rue Dujardin Beaumetz), which is also paid.

Office de Tourisme
Impasse Agnes de Montpellier
11890 Carcassonne
+33 (0)4 68 10 24 30

website

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