Though beautiful and interesting, the region of Languedoc-Roussillon is often ignored by travelers. Overshadowed by the surrounding regions, it is a hidden gem in the country, as are the sites that it hides within. One such site is the town of Carcassonne. With a history that goes back more than 2,000 years, the town is incredibly rich in culture. It is also one of the most astonishing medieval towns in France, as its double-walled fortifications are pretty much intact. Carcassonne is known for its 53 watchtowers- a feat few other towns in Europe can claim.
Sitting at the top of a hill, you will be amazed at its beauty, and happy that this UNESCO World Heritage Site is largely ignored by tourists who don’t know any better. While you won’t be the only foreigner there, you will be able to enjoy the authenticity of the French provinces, and immerse in their way of life.
Visit the fortified city, go to the forts, tour along the vineyards, and enjoy the scenery from a villa. No matter what you choose to do, you are sure to fall in love with Carcassonne.
To help you as you plan your trip, here are the top 5 things to do in Carcassonne that you can’t afford to miss:
1.Pay a visit to Chateau Comtal
Located within the Cité Fortress, this Medieval castle is one of the top sites of the city. The castle has been restored, but all restorations have kept true to the original architecture and materials. This means that what you see is almost exactly what people saw hundreds of years ago.
2.Go on a vineyard tour
As the largest wine producing region in the entire country, Languedoc is decorated with vineyards. Going to the region without paying a visit to some of them and enjoying the delicious wine they produce, is almost a sin. Join one of several tours that leave from Carcassonne, and take in the sights, fragrances, and tastes of the countryside.
3.Get goosebumps at the Torture Museum
You can’t talk about the Middle Ages without mentioning torture. As one of the most impressive Medieval cities in the country, it makes sense that Carcassonne has a museum dedicated to cruelty. See the iron maid and other horrifying torture devices, and learn about practices of the time. You should be warned, however, that it is not for the faint of heart.
4.Explore the Cité
The Cité is the fortified town itself. It is the equivalent of historical centers in other southern cities, though significantly larger in size. The Cité is, of course, where most of the charm of Carcassonne lies, and the site that makes the visit worthwhile.
5.Spend time at the Basilique Saint- Nazaire
Small and simple, yet wonderfully beautiful, this basilica is well-worth the visit. Its stained-glass windows filter natural light to spread colors throughout the church, and make it quite a sight to behold. Find tranquility and peace here, no matter what you believe in.