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Carcassonne Citadel and Castle: the medieval treasure of France

Let’s explore the Citadel of Carcassonne, a medieval treasure in the south of France. Discover its history, architecture and culture!

Welcome to the Carcassonne Citadel and its Castle, an enchanting and majestic medieval treasure located in the south of France. A visit to this citadel is a step back in time; With its striking towers, turrets, and ramparts that can be seen from miles away, it really sums up the wonder of medieval times. We have visited it, and we will show you what you can see during your visit in a day to Carcassonne.

Presentation of the Carcassonne Citadel and Castle

The Citadel of Carcassonne and its castle are one of the most impressive and best preserved medieval fortresses in France. Located in the heart of the historic city of Carcassonne, this citadel has been standing since the Middle Ages and gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like during that time period. The fortress features imposing walls, narrow streets, and old buildings that have been carefully restored to their former splendor.

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One of the highlights of a visit to the Citadel is walking along its walls, which offer stunning views of both the city and the surrounding countryside. Visitors can also explore the many museums located within the fortress, in addition to its historical significance, the Citadel is also home to several restaurants and cafés where visitors can enjoy traditional French cuisine while enjoying stunning views.

Lady Carcas
Lady Carcas

Why is it called Carcassonne?

The story goes that in the time of Charlemagne, Lady Carcas was the queen of the place. Charlemagne was already around the fort, he wanted to make it his own and the population of the fief was already starving, seeing the surrender very close.

But Lady Carcas was not willing to give up, and, of course, she did not want to show the terrible situation in which the town was. So, she built straw men to make it look like there were many guards and even though all they had left was a pig to eat, she fattened it up and then to show the opponents that they were overflowing with food (total lie) she threw it outside to let them see it

She played her last card like this, for hers good luck it worked, since Charlemagne believed that there was nothing more to do with people that lived in such abundance and withdrew.

When the bells rang, someone said: “Carcas rings!”, or “Carcas sonne!” (in French)

The Citadel of Carcassonne has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

… and the pigs flew

How to get to the Citadel of Carcassonne?

To get to the Citadel, you can take a train from Paris or Toulouse to Carcassonne station. From there, you can take a taxi or walk to the front door, approximately two kilometers of walk.

If you want to travel by plane, the nearest airport is Carcassonne Salvaza Airport, which serves several international destinations. You can also choose to rent a car yand drive there.

The journey takes approximately 1 hour from Toulouse or 2 hours from Montpellier. Once you arrive in Carcassonne, the Citadel is easily accessible on foot or by public transport. Whichever transport option you choose, prepare for an unforgettable experience exploring this medieval treasure of France.

Cats in Carcassonne

What to see in the Citadel of Carcassonne?

Overall, visiting the Citadel of Carcassonne is a truly unique experience that transports visitors back in time to medieval France. With so much to see and do within its walls, it’s no wonder this fortress has become such a popular tourist destination for travelers from around the world.


Narbonne Gate

This imposing gate dates back to the 13th century and was once used as a defense mechanism against enemy attacks. Today, visitors can walk through this historic gate and explore the cobbled streets and ancient architecture that make up this medieval treasure.

As you walk through the Narbonne Gate, you will be transported back in time when knights roamed these streets and battles took place on these very walls. The gate itself is impressive, with a pointed arch made of local stone that has stood firm for centuries.

Arriving and this is what it looks like

Walk around the walls and towers

Visiting the Citadel of Carcassonne and its castle is like going back to medieval times. One of the main attractions of this famous fortress is to walk around the walls and towers that surround it. The walls and towers have survived for centuries and offer impressive views both inside and outside the citadel.

Walking around the ramparts, you will find many different vantage points from which you can admire the beauty of Carcassonne. You can see its historic streets lined with charming shops, cafés, and restaurants, as well as its winding river below. In addition, climbing one of its 52 watchtowers offers a unique view from above.

As you walk through these ancient fortifications, it’s easy to be transported back in time when knights defended their land against invading armies. It is not difficult at all to get lost in your own imagination as you walk along these impressive ramparts that are a testament to French military history.

Visit to the castle and museum

Within the castle walls is a fascinating museum displaying various artifacts from different periods, including Romanesque and Gothic art. Visitors can explore this historical treasure at their own pace. Discovering the history of Carcassonne through its museum is an enriching experience that allows you to get to know French culture and heritage.

Carcassonne castle kids

A visit to the Castle and Museum is incomplete without going up to one of its imposing watchtowers. From here, you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside while imagining what life was like for those who once lived within these walls centuries ago.

This part of the visit is paid, and you can buy the ticket right there, in our case, we didn’t see a line. But it is always advisable to buy the ticket in advance, to avoid a possible queue depending on the time you go.

The Saint-Nazaire basilica

One particular attraction within the citadel worth exploring is the Saint-Nazaire Basilica.

The Basilica of Saint-Nazaire is an impressive piece of architecture dating from the 11th century (although it was actually finished in the 14th century).

Located inside the citadel, it stands out for its Gothic-style design and its impressive size. The interior also features beautiful, intricate, carved stained-glass windows and paintings depicting Biblical scenes.

There are other activities that can be done in the citadel and its surroundings, and even traveling there with kids will be a terrific experience.

Where to eat and stay in the Citadel of Carcassonne?

When it comes to eating at the Citadel of Carcassonne, visitors are spoiled for choice. Be sure to try the delicious cassoulet, a regional dish, very delicious and usually served in gigantic quantities, which is rare in typical French food, where they usually serve minimal portions. It consists of a mixture of white beans, meat and sausage, which are cooked for a long time. A typical dish of the region.

As for accommodation, there are a variety of options available within the Citadel itself, ranging from small guest houses to luxury hotels. If you feel like sparing no expense, the Hotel de la Cité is one of the best options for those seeking five-star comfort with its elegant rooms and exceptional service. Alternatively, Hotel Espace Cite offers cheaper prices and is just a short walk from the citadel.

Hotel de la Cite Carcassonne
Hotel de la Cite

Practical advice for visiting the Citadel of Carcassonne

One of the most important tips is to wear comfortable shoes. The fortress is quite extensive and includes steep stairs, cobbled streets, and walks through gardens and courtyards. You will walk a lot! In addition, it is advisable to bring water, especially in hot weather.

Another tip for a serene visit is to go early in the morning or later when it’s less crowded. Keep in mind that during the high season, there can be lines and plenty of people walking through the citadel’s little streets.

Finally, take your time to explore every corner of this medieval treasure. Don’t just focus on taking pictures; Immerse yourself in its history by reading information panels and admiring its impressive architecture.

Carcassonne Citadel and castle

What is the best time to visit the citadel?

To make the most of your visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s important to choose the right time of year to go. The best times to visit the citadel are during the spring and fall seasons, when the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner than in the peak summer months.

During these hours, visitors can enjoy strolling the castle walls and exploring the fortified city without being overwhelmed by the large crowds.

Summer is also a popular time to visit the Citadel of Carcassonne due to school holidays and warm weather. However, be prepared for long lines and crowded spaces, as many tourists flock to this iconic site during peak season.

In conclusion, we cannot fail to recommend you to visit the Citadel of Carcassonne because it is a true medieval treasure of France. The rich history and impressive architecture make the experience unforgettable. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a unique travel destination, the Citadel of Carcassonne has something for everyone.

Have a nice journey! Don’t forget to take plenty of photos and immerse yourself in the charm and beauty of this extraordinary heritage site.

Carcassonne view
City View

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Olga Grijalva Alvarez

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.

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