If you’re planning on visiting the “Occitanie” region in France, then a visit to Carcassonne should definitely be at the top of your list. This breathtakingly charming medieval city is an iconic symbol of this region’s history and magnificence. Winalist has gathered up all the best things to do in Carcassonne – whether you fancy taking part in some wine-related activities, searching for family fun or exploring historical sites!
Get lost in time as soon as you approach the majestic city walls of Carcassonne, a renowned French tourist destination located between Narbonne and Toulouse, just one hour away by car from its larger neighbor. Bordered by Aude and Canal du Midi rivers, it is widely celebrated for its incredible medieval citadel.
Exploring Carcassonne also provides the opportunity to wander its traditional alleys, explore its docks and stroll along Canal du Midi. Food connoisseurs will find plenty of things to satisfy their epicurean cravings!
Located inside Occitan vineyard, boasting 8 AOPs (Protected Designation of Origin), Winalist has made it a point in this guidebook to offer you an array of carefully chosen areas for your enjoyment. Through our partner winemakers, make sure that you don’t miss out on all the oenological activities around the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, and France’s larger South-West region, as well!
Things to do in Carcassonne: Top 4 Sites
Let’s get started on the best things to do in Carcassonne on your Southwest, France visit!
Make sure explore one of these sites, especially selected for a perfect stay in Carcassonne:
- The Medieval City
- The Saint-Nazaire Basilica
- The Comtal Castle
- The Pont Vieux and the Bastide Saint-Louis
1. The Medieval City of Carcassonne
First up in our best things to do in Carcassonne, France is the Cité; it’s an absolute must-see! This medieval architectural gem boasts a nearly 3km long enclosing wall that protects its timeless treasures and has been through all kinds of trials – from being built to destroyed, attacked to restored. It’s no wonder why it made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. A visit here will be sure to give you a unique glimpse into history!
Nestled among the cities of Europe, The City stands out as a fortified complex like no other. This fortress is more than just its Comtal castle; it boasts over 52 towers and has rightfully earned its place on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list!
For lovers of history, guided tours are available to explore the City’s hidden gems. Yet if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, take a stroll down these medieval streets and enjoy its unexpected riches at your own pace!
All year long, Carcassonne organizes spectacular events such as the annual festival and chivalric tournaments or even medieval markets. On July 14th of each year, you can experience a magnificent fireworks show!
2. Things to do in Carcassonne: The Saint Nazaire basilica
Next up on our favorite things to do in Carcassonne includes the Saint-Nazaire basilica. Located in the medieval city of Carcassonne, the Saint-Nazaire basilica is a captivating building comprised of sandstone and blessed by Pope Urban II in 1096. Constructed between the 9th century and 14th century, this Romanesque church stands tall as an awe-inspiring example of religious architecture.
Durability and beauty are both present during the enlargements of this cathedral in the Gothic period; while transforming its exterior during 19th-century renovations, all interior beauty were retained. If you visit today, you will be awestruck by the remarkably preserved stained-glass windows illustrating scenes from Jesus Christ’s life and his apostles’ stories.
3. The Comtal Castle
Upon crossing the bridge spanning over Carcassonne’s grand moats, you enter a timeless history. A guided or self-guided tour of an hour can provide valuable insight into the thousand year old city’s intricate fortifications and 19th century renovations executed by Viollet-le-Duc. Unravel this historic marvel that awaits your exploration!
This 17th century castle built by the Trancavels (Viscounts of Carcassonne) is a stronghold in the history of France. The city was indeed the border between France and Aragon until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.
Then stroll along the Gallo-Roman and medieval ramparts for a breathtaking panorama of the entire city and its region.
If you yearn to understand the entire tale of Carcassonne’s castle and its part in past battles between rulers, I urge you to book a guide for your adventure. That way, you can appreciate all that this captivating structure has lived through over time.
Exploring the castle without a guide is certainly feasible, but unfortunately there may not be enough written descriptions once you enter. Make sure to bring along your water bottle as well; you’ll need it for all of those flights of stairs!
4. The Pont Vieux and the Bastide Saint-Louis
The Pont Neuf is a remarkable medieval building from the 14th century that served as Carcassonne’s only crossing point for five centuries between the city and La Bastide Saint-Louis.
This vibrant area of activity, hailed as “the second city center” of Carcassonne, is situated 15 minutes away by foot from the Cité de la Cité and presents an array of activities to explore its rich cultural heritage – with walks filled with beautiful sights worth every minute!
Here are the main points of interest to discover at the Bastide Saint-Louis:
- Calvary Garden (Rue Voltaire)
- Beaux-Arts Museum (15 Boulevard Camille Pelletan)
- Place Carnot
- The Halles (Place Eggenfelden)
- The Pont Vieux
5. Visit Carcassonne wineries and vineyards
If you’re visiting Carcassonne as part of your Wine Route adventure in the South West of France, then look no further – Winalist has got you covered! We provide an extensive list of top-notch wine tourism activities all across the country. Enjoy and cheers to a fantastic journey ahead!
The region of Greater Carcassonne offers a variety of wine appellations – from Minervois and Corbières to Malepère, Cabardès, or even Languedoc. Explore the breathtaking landscapes and meet with our winemaking partners for exclusive visits and tastings!
Your hosts are excited to share their customs, history and culture with you during a unique opportunity or tour that offers pleasure, education and exploration.
Immerse yourself in nature’s beauty at this tranquil estate, located within a 160-hectare valley near Val de Dagne, Alaric and Hautes Corbières. From Carcassonne–an UNESCO World Heritage Site–to the majestic Canal du Midi just minutes away, it is an ideal spot for those ready to explore by foot or bike on their journey along the famous canal.
Château la Villatade (Sallèles-Cabardès)
Last on our favorite things to do in Carcassonne is Montagne Noire. Located 15 minutes north of Carcassonne, in an exceptional setting on the foothills of the Montagne Noire, Richard and Sophie will be happy to introduce you to Château La Villatade, an old estate of 130 hectares made up of vines, olive trees, forests and scrubland.
In this area, we feel all the passion of the winegrowers to produce the best possible cuvées. You will be able to appreciate during your tasting a Côtes Noires in AOC Minervois (awarded several gold medals), or the wines “V” of Villatade, IGP Pays d’Oc White, Red and Rosé.
If you’re a wine enthusiast looking to learn more about the winemaking process, then this winemaker has just what you need: two incredible activities. Pick from either a peaceful tasting or an informative formula visit of the domain and tasting. On top of that, with your visit comes access to all kinds of things like the estate’s history plus close up views on how grapes are cultivated in this unique family-run vineyard! Don’t wait – come and experience it today!
Find more about the Château la Villatade domaine with Winalist!
Things to do in Carcassonne: FAQs
Where is the Tourist Office in Carcassonne?
There are 3 different Tourist Offices in Carcassonne:
– One for the “Cité“, at Impasse Agnès de Montpellier,
– One for the “Grand Carcassonne” at 2 Square Gambetta,
– One at la Bastide Saint-Louis, 28 Rue de Verdun
How to get to Carcassonne?
By car from Montpellier or Albi, it will take you about 1h30 to reach Carcassonne, and just 1h from Toulouse.
If you come by train from Paris, count about a 5 hour trip, and a 3 hour trip if you travel from Bordeaux.
Why visit Carcassonne?
This medieval town is a remarkable testimony to the history of our country, as well as that of the conflicts that have marked the South-West region. Its castle, its ramparts and its basilica are monuments of the area’s past that you should absolutely visit.
Also, the region is endowed with magnificent circuits for walks in the heart of nature, and will make you discover its gastronomic and oenological wealth.
Where is Carcassonne ?
Carcassonne, town, capital of Aude département, Occitanie region, southwestern France, southeast of Toulouse, near the eastward bend of the Aude River, which divides the city into two towns, the Ville Basse and the Cité. The Cité has the finest remains of medieval fortifications in Europe.