In 3 words: Impressive medieval town.
For your visit one day should be sufficient.
Distances are all walkable.
Worthy attractions: Basilique Saint-Nazaire; Château Comtal; Pont Vieux; La Bastide Saint-Louis.
Left for another visit: Musée de l’École; Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Last visit: August 2016.

Carcassonne is an imposing medieval town, recognized on UNESCO World Heritage list. Its historic core, Cité de Carcassonne, is grossly overrun by tourists in high season. Nonetheless, it is a very picturesque and impressive destination.

Things to See

Basilique Saint-Nazaire ♥ is not overly ornate but contains some impressive mosaics. In evenings, it is often the venue for classical music concerts.

Château Comtal ♥♥ was heavily restored in mid-19th century. The castle itself does not offer many exceptional exhibits. But it allows access to two different routes along city walls, which are more than worth the price of entry to the complex.

There are many interesting buildings and a few fascinating shops on the central streets. We opted for strolling around as opposed to visiting a couple of museums inside the walls, but Musée de l’École, recreating the atmosphere of local schools in late 19th to mid-20th centuries, is a point of interest for a future visit.

Leaving the walls of Cité, you can descend to Pont Vieux ♥, for an expansive view of the city above.

It is also worthwhile to walk across the river and explore La Bastide Saint-Louis ♥, the less glamorous part of town that nonetheless dates back to the 13th century. The grid of streets surrounds lively and popular Place Carnot ♥, and there are a couple of churches and the art museum in the vicinity. Smaller kids can enjoy a wading pool with jumping fountains as well as a carousel and a couple of swings on Place Gambetta ♥, while adults can contemplate the surrounding statuary.

Place to Eat

Restaurant L’Ostal des Troubadoures ♥♥♥ is located on the main street in Cité near the castle entrance. It is slightly “tucked inside” from the main thoroughfare, which makes for less tourist traffic. Evocative decor, somewhat aloof but efficient service. Some meats are “finished” on the open hearth right in the dining room. Duck and traditional cassoulet are top choices, but other items on the menu look good too. Very nice all around experience. The only minus – soups are not available during the height of the tourist season (Jul/Aug). Our damage: €82 for a couple with a child, including a bottle of wine.  Last visit: Summer 2016.

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