Visiting the Fortified City, La Cité de Carcassonne, France

April 18, 2015 — 8 Comments

In France, I bet you could easily guess the most popular tourist attraction. You are right if you said the Eiffel Tower, Tour Eiffel. Now you may be surprised that the second most popular attraction is not a lavish cathedral or grand museum. It is Cité de Carcassonne, the medieval fortress in the city of Carcassonne in the southern region of Languedoc-Roussillon. The impressive structure sits on top of the hill as it has for centuries. In fact, the site has a history of over 2000 years and predates Roman times.

Although, I refer to Carcassonne as a city, it looks more like a large town—quaint and laid-back. It has a population of 47,000 that swells during the tourist season. Carcassonne really consists of three sections. There is the fortified city and the adjacent “new” town. Across the River Aude is the old or lower town, La Ville Basse. While I enjoyed the old town, the main attraction is the medieval Cité de Carcassonne. It was built up over many years beginning in Roman times with the fortification completed in the 14th century during the 100 Year War. By the mid 19th century, the castle had fallen into disrepair to the point that it was set to be demolished. This caused a great outcry and eventually, the government saw the importance of the castle, not only for the region, but France itself. Cité de Carcassonne was significantly remodelled starting in 1853 by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc during an extensive operation that lasted until the late 19th century.

On a beautiful Summer’s afternoon, I was so lucky to be able to visit Cité de Carcassonne. The view of the castle from a downstream bridge over the River Aude.

Carcassonne Citadel France Languedoc Roussillon



The bridge, Pont Vieux, is quite the attraction itself. Let’s take some closer views…

Cité de Carcassonne Aude River France



The 14th century bridge replaced a Roman bridge at the same spot and, for many years, was the only means of crossing the Aude. Pont Vieux played an important part in the ongoing construction, trade, wars and conflicts, and life of the people in and around the fortified city.

Carcassonne Aude River Bridge France



The scenic park adjacent to the bridge.

Carcassonne Aude River Bridge Park France



Now, let’s visit the exterior of the fortified city. In this post, there are just a few of the 53 towers. Although architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc’s work is considered greatly important, he has been criticized because the roofs were not finished in the same manner as they would have been in medieval times.

Carcassonne Castle Tower France Languedoc



You may also be able to see that there are two walls surrounding the castle.

Cité de Carcassonne walls tower france



Cité de Carcassonne was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The town has another UNESCO site, Canal Du Midi, excavated in the 17th century to link the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Today, the canal is popular among tourists and boaters for a different way to see the beautiful south French countryside. If you arrive by train to Carcassonne, you can’t help noticing the canal.

Cité de Carcassonne UNESCO



Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who wished to visit the castle on this beautiful afternoon. This is the main entrance.

Carcassonne Castle Entrance France



Reportedly, the fortified city of Carcassonne was the inspiration for the Disneyland Castle. You may notice a little bit of a resemblance in these photos.

Cité de Carcassonne UNESCO France



Castle Carcassonne Tower France Languedoc


The Aude Gate to the Château Comtal or Count’s Castle. Within the fortification, there are castles, châteaux, homes, businesses, and a church that I will feature on an upcoming post.

Carcassonne Castle bridge France



The bridge over the moat that leads to Aude Gate.

Carcassonne Castle bridge moat France



Carcassonne Castle moat bridge France



Can’t remember where this is but I liked the ornamental pine.

Carcassonne Castle trees France



A busy Pont Vieux after my visit to the fortified city.

Aude River Carcassonne Bridge France



 From Pont Vieux…

Citadel Carcassonne France



The peaceful Aude River and evening sky.

Aude River Carcassonne Languedoc Roussillon France



 Murals in the new town.

Carcassonne France murals



One last look at the castle before saying good-bye.

Cité de Carcassonne Languedoc Roussillon

I hope you enjoyed this post as I just barely covered this beautiful and amazing attraction. On my next post featuring the Cité de Carcassonne, I’ll concentrate with views inside the fortified walls. I hope you can join me.

If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, or have ordered it, I really appreciate your support. It’s also out on Kindle and Kobo. My Goodreads and Amazon pages have reviews and more information. Please share this post, and thanks for your time.

About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.


8 responses to Visiting the Fortified City, La Cité de Carcassonne, France

  1. Lida Del Monte April 21, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Hi, I really enjoyed the pictures, thanks for sharing your nice moment time in this place so beautiful and peaceful indeed. I’ve had been in France with my kids in Disneyland few years ago, we we’re lucky with a weather, it was still winter but it was warm, and location it was nice, we’ve enjoyed it, too, we have had very nice time.

    • Lida, this was a special visit for me. I won’t forget my last trip to France. Glad you enjoyed the photos. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. The pictures are very appealing. I believe spending time there would be truly worth it, after scrolling through this post. 🙂

  3. My – son is on his way and today is in a place called or spelled Zariquiegui.
    So far he is enjoying the trip and praising the Hostels he is staying in along the way. I’ve tried to follow your route, but not sure its the same one. Your coverage is very good. Thank you.

    • It is early on my first Camino. Just find the Camino de Santiago tab above. I believe he is early on the Camino Frances, just past Pamplona. Check my post as I left Pamplona. I wish your son the safest, most rewarding journey. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. Beautiful landscape shots Randal and close ups as well, the masonry work that went into those buildings many moons ago greatly go unappreciated by many. Kudos to them for upkeeping the castle and grounds I know it must not be easy and cheap, but so worth it. =0)

    • Thanks so much. Carcassonne is very popular so they always have money coming in. You’re right, I’m sure repairs are not cheap. I have enough photos for a another post or two. One day…

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