The largest fortified Medieval city of Europe, the city of Carcassonne, France, makes us feel as though we are stepping into a fairytale. Complete with drawbridges, moats, gateways and innumerable towers, this ancient city is said to have inspired Walt Disney’s adaptation of The Sleeping Beauty.
However, this city’s allure goes way beyond its rustic charm. From museums and boating opportunities to great wine and delicious local cuisine, Carcassonne draws in a number of tourists every year. Read on to find out why the city of Carcassonne would make a perfect day trip destination.
Why Take A Day Trip From Paris To Carcassonne?
Enjoy a peaceful drive from Paris to Carcassonne: Carcassonne is located at a distance of around 760 km from Paris. In other words, Carcassonne is only a seven-hour drive away from the Paris city center, making it an ideal day trip destination.
Discover the UNESCO World Heritage site: Carcassonne sees a considerable number of tourists every year. In fact, after the Eiffel Tower, the citadel of Carcassonne is the second-most popular tourist attraction of France. To add to its allure, it was also declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 90s.
Explore the fortified Old Town: The one specialty that sets Carcassonne, France apart from all the other Medieval cities of Europe is the fact that it is entirely fortified, even now. The old city is still protected by the fortress walls built hundreds of years ago. In fact, Carcassonne was once upon a time said to be the most protected city in France.
Historical relevance: The city holds within its ancient walls many historical secrets. Once considered to be the home of the Counts of Carcassonne, it later became the home ground of the Trencavel family and even played an important role in the formation of France.
Wine tasting: Contrary to popular belief, Carcassonne, France has much more than castles and museums. Interestingly, it is conveniently located near two of the region’s most famous wineries -the Minervois and the Corbières. Visitors can indulge in a wine tasting session or take part in a tour of the wineries, depending on their interests.
Paris To Carcassonne: Ticket Options
Skip the Line: Carcassonne Castle & Ramparts Ticket
- Explore the astounding 13th-century Cité de Carcassonne for an unforgettable experience.
- Take in the massive fortified walls, watchtowers, ramparts, and the Count’s Castle.
- Enjoy a 12-minute video on this historic castle.
- Benefit from exclusive skip-the-line entry which allows you to beat the crowd.
Visiting Carcassonne: The Experience
A trip to Carcassonne, France would mean stepping into the medieval world of the 13th century. History buffs will enjoy learning all about the citadel that was once claimed by Romans, Visigoths, Saracens, and Crusaders.
You will get to witness the massive walls and marvel at the 52 watchtowers. Other attractions include the Count’s Castle and the Château Comtal. Once you have had your fill exploring these attractions, you will be shown a 12-minute film that features 3D images and close-up footage of the citadel. After watching the movie, you are free to visit the archeological museum and learn more about the history of Carcassonne.
Visiting Carcassonne: Attractions You Can’t Miss
The Citadel: The city of Carcassonne is most famous for its citadel (La Cité) that spans an area of nearly three kilometers. The massive walls along with its 52 towers are surrounded by an ancient moat. Visitors can also spot the occasional draw-bridges and observatories that are built along the outer walls. A fascinating castle, a beautiful basilica and the entire Old City rest within these outer walls
The Main Castle: No visit to the citadel is complete without indulging in a tour of the main castle. Expect to spend at least two whole hours marveling at the beautifully restored rooms and hallways. If you opt for a guided tour, you will get to know more about the history of the castle and how it was built.
The Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus: Almost as famous as the citadel is the basilica with its Romanesque architecture and intricate sculptures. Don’t forget to admire the beautiful stained glass window, which is one of the oldest in France.
The Canal du Midi: The beautiful Canal du Midi is another one of the most sought after attractions of Carcassonne, France. If you are looking for an evening full of fun and relaxation, this is the perfect spot for you. You can rent a boat for a day or even for a few days, depending on your requirements and sail along the beautiful countryside.
Château Las Tours: One of the hidden gems of the city, this whimsical castle is located on top of a hill, overlooking a picturesque little town. If you are looking for a quiet and intimate atmosphere, you can head over to this castle which is about 20 minutes north of town.
Visiting Carcassonne: Self Guided vs Guided Tours
Navigating through the crowd: One of the most sought-after tourist destinations of the country, Carcassonne tends to get quite crowded, especially during the peak seasons. Navigating through these crowds may prove to be overwhelming, especially if it is your first time visiting the region. However, if you opt for a guided tour, you can sit back and relax as your guide shows you around the city.
Visiting the lesser-known attractions: Apart from the popular citadel and the main castle, the city of Carcassonne, France, houses many hidden gems. While visiting all these attractions on your own my prove difficult, opting for a guided tour will help you make the most of your trip.
A Hassle-free trip: From taking care of transfers and transportation to securing entrance tickets, your guide will take care of everything, allowing you to truly enjoy your day trip. Therefore, it is always a good idea to opt for a guided tour.
Visiting Carcassonne: Tips, Guidelines & More
- Reach early: While visiting Carcassonne during the high season, it is advisable to reach as early as possible. As the day progresses, you will find that the number of tourists also increases.
- When to Visit: Carcassonne can be described as a year-round attraction. Therefore, visitors can visit whenever they want. However, it is to be kept in mind that some attractions may be closed during the winter.
- What to wear: Expect heavy winds, especially while visiting the citadel. Therefore, it is advisable to carry a coat.
- Try out the local cuisine: Carcassonne boasts many great restaurants that serve delicious food. Don't forget to try out a few local dishes during your visit.
- Holidays: 1 Jan, 1 May, 14 Jul, 1 Nov, 11 Nov & 25 Dec
- Free entry: It is to be noted that EU citizes up till the age of 26 and non-EU citizens up till the age of 18 can enjoy free entry to the castle.
How far is the region of Carcassonne located from Paris?
The city of Carcassonne is located at a distance of about 760 km from Paris.
Can we enter the Carcassonne castle without a pre-booked entry pass?
While pre-booking your ticket to castle of Carcassonne is not a necessity, it is advisable to do so. You can pre-book your ticket at websites like Headout.
How do you tour Carcassonne in France?
Headout offers a variety of tours to the city of Carcassonne.
When should I visit Carcassonne, France?
Since Carcassonne is a year-round attraction, visitors can visit whenever they want. However, it i sto be noted that some attractions may be closed during the winter.
Is the city of Carcassonne worth visiting?
The city of Carcassonne with many attractions like the Citadel, the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus, Canal du Midi, etc is definitely worth visiting.