"Carcassonne" Carcassonne by Kaspian

Carcassonne Travel Guide: 490 reviews and 1,416 photos

Travel Dates: September 5-8 2011.

What a truly amazing place! Personally, I'd never even heard of Carcassonne less than a year ago, but when I mentioned to my UK-based friend, Lynn, that I was planning a visit France, she asked if she could come with me and said this was a place she wanted to see. I agreed to it at the time, although I later cursed under my breath when I discovered it was a 7-hour train ride from Paris--far closer to Barcelona, Spain than to France's capital. But sometimes you do things just to make a friend happy, right? So, we went. Standing in front of the medieval city walls on a warm September afternoon, all I could manage to mutter was, "Wow... Wow... Well, I'm glad we came here! Good choice, Lynn!"

The Fortified City

Behind the colossal walls of Carcassonne rests a well-preserved medieval town--now full of souvenir shops, restaurants, chocolatiers, craft-makers, and even some chain hotels like the Best Western. Part of the fun is getting lost and then found again in the city's narrow, maze-like alleys. In the evening, after the tourists have all left and the streets get quiet, you genuinely feel as though you've stepped back in time a millennia as you hear your own footsteps on the cobblestone echo through the dark lanes. A walk on the ramparts is breathtaking. The sheer size of the walls around the fortified city is mind-boggling--I can't stop looking up at them. Honestly, I've been to dozens of castles in my lifetime, but never anything on the scale Carcassonne! I can imagine an army of enemy medieval knights, archers, and soldiers showing up at the gates here, taking one look, saying "Screw it, we'll never get in there," and then turning around to head home.

Medieval Kitsch

I had no idea there was somewhere in the world where the Knights Templar were sold in shops as common souvenirs! Well, that's a lot cooler in my books than Mickey Mouse stuff or little red London double-decker buses as far as I'm concerned. As a kid I would've been in heaven here. Templar figures, coins, keychains, T-shirts, pens, plastic armour, real armour, plastic swords, real swords--Carcassonne is a medieval enthusiast's veritable wet dream! Alright, confession time--yes, I bought one of the figures. ...See that white one in the middle with the shield? Err... And I bought a coin too. But I swear, that's all!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Awe inspiring!
  • Cons:The drawbridge into the fortifications creates an insane tourist bottleneck.
  • Last visit to Carcassonne: Sep 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (1)

  • CDM7's Profile Photo
    Jul 12, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Enjoyed your write up and photos of carcassonne.Looking forward to my visit there in September.

Kaspian

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