Carcassonne, France in Photos
Carcassonne is a town in France, near Toulouse, which is famous for its old walled city and castle. I had never even heard of it, but Andy has a board game that’s based on this castle, so he wanted to go. What started as a long weekend in Barcelona morphed into a 10 day trip to four different cities. Carcassonne was our second stop after an eight hour train from Brussels.
Everyone warned us how windy Carcassonne is, but when we arrived they were having an odd spell of windless weather, making the bright, sunny, 100F (38C) weather almost unbearable. We spent our first day wandering through the streets of the old city and hiding out in cafes with air conditioning. I actually thought I might faint at some point because it was so hot.
Towards the end of the day when we decided to go check out the castle, we found out the ticket office closes 30-45 minutes before the listed closing time of the castle, depending on the time of year. So if you visit, check the hours and give yourself lots of time. Luckily we had another day there, so we were able to come back the next morning.
We saw this tourist train (called Touc) on our first day and joked about it, but after enduring the extreme heat, we decided we didn’t want to walk back up the hill on the second day. The train has a route through the center of town and up to the walled city for just 2€ one way or 3€ round trip on the same day. Definitely worth it.
The downfall of going to the castle the next morning was that we ended up having to wait in line for over an hour, again in the blazing hot sun. But at least this time we knew we would get tickets and have as much time as we wanted to explore the castle.
Carcassonne’s castle was protected inside of two fortified walls, much of which still stands today or has been restored.
You can pay for an audio tour of the castle, but we decided to go through on our own. There were plenty of signs in English, French, and Spanish so we could read about different parts of the castle and its 2,500 year history. You can also walk along part of the walls for a better view of both the old and the new cities.
We didn’t stay in one of the hotels inside the walls because they were more expensive (though there was a hostel) but we did splurge on eating there. Touristy, yes, but it was still a nice atmosphere, and it meant we got to see the walled city lit up at night.
The nearest city to Carcassonne is Toulouse, which was about an hour on the train. Tickets to get into the castle are 8.50€ but entrance to the walled city is free.
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October 25, 2012 @ 9:51 AM
Seeing that you made it to Carcassonne, did you manage to go to Toulouse? Namely the museum there? I really love the posters Toulouse Lautrec and I was wondering whether they had a special exhibition of them there.
As for Carcassone, 38c is really hot. When it gets that hot here I just stay inside, plug my portable air conditioner into the window and switch it on full for the day and make sure I have plenty of water stocked up. I’m not sure what it’s like in Europe because I’ve never been there but when it gets that hot here, it is a really dry heat that makes it easy to get heat stroke so you have to be careful.
October 25, 2012 @ 4:04 PM
No, we were only in Toulouse for an hour or two. We took the train from Carcassonne to Toulouse and then a bus from Toulouse to Andorra, so we didn’t have time. Maybe another time, it looked like a nice city from the train station anyway!
I’m sure it’s different depending on what part of Europe, but here it’s usually humid in the summer (although not as humid as it is in the southeastern US where I used to live) so it feels hotter than the actual temperature. Not fun. In Freiburg, we seem to only have a few weeks each summer when it’s hot enough to wish we had air conditioning. We’re pretty far north here.
October 25, 2012 @ 5:48 PM
Wow these photos are beautiful and this place looks amazing. What’s strange is even though I think this is beautiful, I kinda hate that I have no real desire to see France. I know you didn’t ask that, but sometimes I wonder why. I mean I loved Paris, but that’s all I really wanna see there. I guess we can’t be interested in seeing every single place in the world.
October 25, 2012 @ 6:30 PM
Thanks Jaime! Honestly, France isn’t high on my list either, but I always find it beautiful when I’m there. This castle/town was actually really cool, and I’m glad we went. But you’re right, you just can’t be interested in every single place.
October 25, 2012 @ 5:58 PM
My boyfriend and I love the Carcassone game as well.
And seeing your pictures, it might be a good idea to take a trip to the town:)
October 25, 2012 @ 6:32 PM
Thanks Sofie! I think you’d like it! It was a really cool place, and so much history.
October 26, 2012 @ 5:30 PM
Now that’s a castle – incredible!
October 26, 2012 @ 5:53 PM
It sure was! Castles are awesome!
October 26, 2012 @ 8:50 PM
Beautiful photos. I went there when I was really really little. I remember the castle walls and I got a little toy lion from there. Would love to go back one day
October 27, 2012 @ 10:35 AM
Thanks! It certainly looked like the kind of place kids would love, though it was fun as an adult too.
October 27, 2012 @ 1:04 AM
We were in Carcasonne in and we actualy spent one night each at two different hostels (the HI Hostel inside the medieval city walls and also Notre Dame L’Abbey just outside the medieval city walls.)
Both were basic but functional and most importantly CHEAP! Staying inside the walls of the city was an amazing experience. After all of the tourists cleared out, it felt like we had our own personal castle all to ourselves.
October 27, 2012 @ 10:37 AM
I can imagine it was cool to be there once all the tourists left the area. It was so pretty at night! I think we waited a bit too long to book something, and the cheaper options inside the walls were booked up already. But at least we found something outside the walls that was a short walk.
October 28, 2012 @ 4:06 PM
I’ve never heard of the city or the game. Your photos are beautiful though and definitely put it on our radar to visit!
October 28, 2012 @ 5:42 PM
I never heard of the city or the game either until Andy mentioned them both. I highly recommend going if you’re in southern France. It’s close enough to do a day trip from Toulouse, but I think it’s better to stay for a couple days.
Jade - OurOyster.com
October 29, 2012 @ 1:26 AM
I need to explore more of France.. I have only been to Paris and some ski resorts so far
October 29, 2012 @ 4:56 PM
I haven’t seen much of France either, but now that I live nearby, I seem to make it to France more often. Not my favorite countries, but it’s really pretty.
Megan @Green Global Travel
October 30, 2012 @ 3:17 PM
Love these pictures. I find that France always seems prettier and more desirable away from the city.
October 31, 2012 @ 9:00 PM
Thanks Megan! I definitely agree, such a pretty country.
Ruth (Tanama Tales)
November 1, 2012 @ 8:09 PM
I am dying to visit this fortified city. I like to explore castles and forts.
November 1, 2012 @ 11:30 PM
Castles are great! I hope you make it there someday.