11000 Carcassonne

Campsite near Carcassonne

Carcassonne, medieval citadel

A wonder of the Aude, at the heart of Cathar country, the Carcassonne citadel is a UNESCO world heritage site. Everyone who visits the citadel is enchanted by the decor of this place out of time. The citadel, a place of exceptional history, was restored in the 19th century, partially under the direction of Viollet-le-Duc. It was classified as an Historic Monument very early on, in 1849, due to its excellent restoration and current state of conservation. Surrounded by a double enclosure and with 52 towers, the upper town of Carcassonne has a unique skyline, visible from far along the Aude plain. No visit to Carcassonne is complete without a walk along the ramparts. There is an exceptional view of the Montagne Noire range to the north and the Pyrenees and entire lower town to the west. A fortress in its own right, the count’s castle is defended by its own enclosure, a dry moat, and a barbican. It has two dungeons, eight towers, and a watchtower. The wooden constructions that protect the walkway, called hoardings, usually missing from medieval castles that can be visited today, were recreated by Viollet-le-Duc at the beginning of the 20th century. You can visit the castle. The rooms are decorated with frescos, enriched with exhibitions, and brought to life with videos. A diocese since the 6th century AD, Carcassonne also has a cathedral. The Roman-style nave, built in the 10th century, was enlarged in the 13th and 14th centuries until it became the radiant Gothic building it is today, Saint-Nazaire-et-Saint-Celse. The old cloisters now house an outdoor theater, inaugurated in 1908 by the actors of the Comédie Française. Since 1957, a renowned annual theater festival has taken place there. There are theater shows, concerts of current music, operas, and ballets all year round. You can visit the upper town of Carcassonne, within the ramparts, and stroll the streets. You can visit the lively patios on the shaded squares, artist and artisan workshops on the cobblestone streets, museums, restaurants, and many boutiques.