Insider Guide to Carcassonne

October 29, 2021
Old fortress of Kalemegdan, Carcassonne
Old fortress of Kalemegdan, Carcassonne

Step back in time in this picturesque city. With stone-built fortification walls surrounding the charming medieval city, Carcassonne is a romantic blend of history and fantasy. Take a stroll in its winding alleys and discover charming stone-built houses, magnificent Gothic cathedrals, and more. Let the restaurants and cellars lure you in with the irresistible aroma of local French cuisine and wine. Watch the world go by on the riverbanks of the Midi Du Canal or next to the morning markets where the local citizen’s shop. Follow this insider guide to Carcassonne to discover more charming details of this city that you’ll fall in love with.

Insider Guide to Carcassonne

Shop

Start your day at Marché aux fleurs, légumes et fruits (Market of Flowers, Vegetables, and Fruits) around the Fountain of Neptune. In the morning of Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, you can join the locals to shop for fresh, locally sourced goods in this lively market.

Old Town of Carcassonne

Taste some samples of Carcassonne’s speciality ham Saucisse de foie sec and some aromatic goat cheese, and you can pick up some fruit and freshly baked pastries from one of the stands for breakfast. After you’ve had your pick, sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee with street artists performing live music nearby.

At the courtesy of Vins & Vinos

Pay The Halles a visit for more local produce. This charming stone-built market dates back to 1768 and is also a great place to buy and savour high-quality cheese and baked goods. From Place Carnot market and Vins & Vinos, you can browse a selection of fine local wines, and if you’re having a hard time making a decision, go for the Minervois, a rosé wine that’s the most popular in this region.

Explore

A beautiful sight from miles away, Cité de Carcassonne is a must-see. This UNESCO heritage site goes back to as early as the 5th century If you enjoy history, look at the exhibition showing the rebuilding of the Cité, or take a stroll between the inner and outer walls of the ramparts.

Cité of Carcassonne

This takes you almost all the way around the Cité and provides spectacular views of the idyllic landscape that surrounds this city.

Basilica in Carcassonne

Being at the heart of a wine region, Carcassonne and its surroundings are home to many vineyards that produce high-quality wine. Visit O’Vineyards, a winery-vineyard that’s only 10 minutes away by car from the train station, and discover how they produce wine and savour generous samples of different varieties.

Taste

After exploring the Cité and taking in the beautiful views, you’ll have worked up an appetite. Lucky for you, Carcassonne Center has dozens of amazing options.

Walls of Old City

You can’t miss the Southern France speciality of Cassoulet, a hearty casserole made with white haricot beans, sausage and duck or goose confit, and Carcassonne’s version has partridge meat in the mix. You can taste one of the best Cassoulets under the terracotta tile roof of the cosy Adelaide Restaurant.

Enter Le St-Jean on Place St-Jean for a quiet meal with a dreamy view of the Château Comtal. With an array of regional dishes and Mediterranean cuisine on its menu, the chef will recommend the best dishes for you according to the season and your desires. The cassoulet here is also recommended by many, so give it a try too.

At the courtesy of Le St-Jean Restaurant

Try the local favourite of Le Comte Roger on Rue St-Louis for an unforgettable three-course meal on its terrasse lined with verdant trees. Here, you can savour terroir cuisine with a modern twist.

Head over to La Bolee for a dessert, where you’ll receive a warm welcome. This restaurant will satisfy your dessert cravings with delicious crepes with your favourite toppings and sweet chocolate sauce, which goes well with a cup of coffee.

For sweets to enjoy in your hotel room as you plan the next day, L’Art Gourmand has a dazzling assortment of handmade Nougat, Biscuits, Sweets and Chocolates, all beautifully stylized and waiting to be tasted.

Chill

After a day full of breathtaking views, local markets, an exciting festival, and walking around the Cité, you’ll want to relax. The Canal Du Midi is the ideal location for that.

This is a cool and shaded place, cutting across the valley to the north and lined with trees, creating a setting that looks straight out of a fairytale. It’s also perfect to explore on foot or by bike.

Canal du Midi, Carcassonne

Pack snacks and come here to enjoy an afternoon nibble on the soft grass with the sound of rustling leaves and trickling water inspiring a sense of calm, allowing you to relax after a day’s worth of exploring.

You can also rent a boat and enjoy a chilled glass of rosé while you float, which is another great way to enjoy this scenic location.

Sip

Being at the Heart of a large wine region, you can count on Carcassonne to have a lot of great wines to offer. This city is also home to many characteristic bars that will intoxicate you with their charms and delicious drinks.

You can taste some superb wines and truffles at Barriere Truffes: L’Atelier. This cosy wine bar has a large selection of wines (including organic wines) that will entice you with their fruity aroma and exquisite taste. Order some truffle nibbles to go with your drinks, and spend a lovely evening here in its relaxing atmosphere.

Vineyard in front of medieval city of Carcassonne

Head to V and B Carcassonne to taste a huge selection of beers and wines from France and other corners of the world. With over 300 varieties in its cellar, you’ll surely find one (or more) that satisfies your tastebuds.

For cocktail lovers, unwind at Brasserie du Dôme, where you’ll be outnumbered by the locals. You can’t miss the homemade sangria it’s famous for, or sip on some aperitif before having a meal in this laidback and friendly pub.

Party

Every summer, you can enjoy countless performances by local artists and big stars in the Festival de Carcassonne, one of the biggest French festivals. From opera and theatre to concerts given by local and international artists, you’ll enjoy world-class music and performances in the charming setting of this historic city.

At the courtesy of Plugg d

Head to Plugg d after the sun sets for a night-out you’ll remember. In this rustic-meets-contemporary bar, you can taste homemade tapas and have your favourite drinks while enjoying upbeat music in a language you may or may not know. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a live performance here.

Stay

Stay within the walls of the Cité and wake up to a scene from a fairytale. Many B&Bs and hotels are bound by the original shape and size of the medieval buildings, but their charisma is unlimited. For a great view of the fortified walls of Carcassonne, stays beside the walls and enjoy the dreamy, medieval cityscape as your breakfast. Staying on the other side of the River Aude is also a great choice, giving you the beautiful view of the trickling river, verdant trees, and the fortress beyond.

Where to stay in France