5 Things to do in Carcassonne

No 1 : La Cité Carcassonne

This is probably why you have come to visit Carcassonne. Sometimes guests ask us how long it will take to visit la Cité … the answer is “as long as you like”. 

You can spend a morning here and take a walk through the outside walls and climb the parapets for a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside, vineyards and the lower Bastide and town. Have a coffee in one of the many lovely restaurants and take a tour of Chateau Comptal and finish by visiting the Basilica. This would be rushing your visit but it is doable. 

We recommend at least one day or split your visit over two days. There are book shops, museums, restaurants and gift shops to see. There are fantastic restaurants to eat at. There is something amazing about eating within the walls of the largest walled city in Europe (27 acres) where building started over 1500 years ago. 

If you are visiting during the summer we recommend going very early in the morning or in the evening time. Dining there are night will also be quieter during the summer months. 

If you are visiting during the autumn/winter/spring bring a jumper or coat as it can get windy and cold especially in winter. It is even nicer to visit off the peak summer months as you truly feel you have gone back in time when the streets are quiet and sometimes deserted and you can explore the outer walls without having your photos teeming with other people. 

You can read all about the history and learn plenty on other websites so we won’t include that info here. 

No 2 : The Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi is astonishing in that it goes all the way from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic when joined to the Canal du Garonne. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the oldest Canals in Europe still in use. 

You can take a trip on a boat on the canal for an hour or so at the Carcassonne lock gate. It is  very interesting to see how the gates work and the boat trip is lovely. 

If you would like to take a walk along the Canal or a bike ride you can do so and head in either the direction of Toulouse of Narbonne. 

canal at carcassonne

No. 3 : Bastide Saint Louis

The Bastide Saint Louis was built in 1620 and protected by a wall, towers, bastions and moats, some remnants of which are still visible.

The town is designed in a grid and organised around Place Carnot at the centre. 

The moats were filled up eventually and turned into the boulevards all around the Bastide today. 

Walking from La Macarena to La Cité you will see two remaining bastions and the old wall along Boulevard Barbes which would have been a moat. Rue Georges Clemenceau is the pedestrian street that goes between the large gate Portail de Jacobins and the Canal du Midi at Square Andre Chénier. 

Square Gambetta is lovely to visit as it has been renovated in recent years. The Museé des Beaux Arts is well worth a visit and is free of charge. It houses some fantastic painting and sculptures and also features temporary exhibitions. An unusual fact … in the inner yard of the museum there is a large bust of a bearded man called Eugene Poubelle. The prefect of Paris who ordered that a large receptacle with handles be used to gather garbage.  Before this it was just thrown on the street. Since then rubbish bins in france have been called Poubelles.

Place Carnot with its beautiful and surrounded by cafés and restaurants. Grab a coffee at Chez Felix and people watch or plan your day! Saturday mornings feature the Market at Place Carnot. Neptunes Fountain stands in the centre and while it is usually filled with water, it once had wine flowing in it in 1839 to impress the Duke of Orleans who was visiting.

No. 4 : Wine Tasting

There are lots of Wine Tasting options available in and around Carcassonne. Whether you choose a wine store to have your experience or choose a guided tour, you will not be disappointed. The Cabardes, Corbierés and Minervois offer the most fantastic wines the Languedoc has to offer. Our guest have had wine tastings here at La Macarena and gone on guided tours and have loved every minute of it! This is definitely not to be missed when visiting! 

No. 5 : Le Lac de la Cavayere

A Walk, Run, Swim, Teleski, Tree Top Adventure or Waterpark fun! Something for everyone …. if you fancy a day at the lake the Lac de la Cavayere is packed with great things to do for all ages. 

Also called Carcassonne Plage (beach) it is located 7km from Carcassonne. It is a man made lake and park constructed after a large fire in 1985.