Visit of Carcassonne
The medieval fortress
Written by Bill Stanton
While recently vacationing in Montreal, we were so close to Carcassonne that it would have been a shame not to visit it. Not only does the city's history date back as far as the 6th century BC, which is impressive in itself, but the whole area is really beautiful (we might even spot the Pyrenees mountain range on our way).
We focused our visit on two parts of the city:
Medieval city (the medieval fortress, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and lower town. Most of our day was spent walking around the medieval city, discovering its labyrinth of small streets, the architecture of the fortress and avoid tourist traps.
Asking a few locals and seeing some of them all go to the same place to get food, we had lunch at Flo's beautiful life. Many of the food on the menu is the same as you'll find anywhere in the city., but halfway (or more) the price. They have all the classic Cassoulet and Toulouse sausage dishes that you will find in the region as well as a selection of crepes, waffles and other dishes.
After lunch, we continued our walk for a bit and went to lower town to do some more sightseeing and stopping for refreshments. We spotted some really pretty streets and buildings as well as the many gargoyles that are on the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire.
While wandering around, the display of cakes from Rémi Patisserie always really caught my eye and I couldn't resist getting a selection of cakes to have after dinner later. They were like little works of art and all had interesting flavors. Walking up the cobbled hill paths of the medieval city while balancing a box of delicate cupcakes was quite the challenge, but they returned to the guest house intact.
If I could give you two tips on visit of Carcassonne, they would be next: First of all, plan when you visit carefully. It is a very touristy site and can get really crowded. We were there at what is supposed to be a quiet time of year and it was very busy. You must take into account that the streets of the medieval city are very narrow and allow cars, bikes, horse carts, etc. as well as foot circulation. Secondly, make sure you are wearing proper shoes because you will end up walking a lot. The medieval city is on top of a hill, so you walk up and down, mostly on paved paths, little bit just.
Apart from this, have fun and don't forget to check the architecture details. You might be surprised by the things you can spot not only on the medieval fortress, but the houses themselves (complex balconies, a doorbell in the shape of an owl, etc.).
Have you visited Carcassonne? What was your favorite part about it?