Tours of Carcassonne: a medieval city

Our tours of Carcassonne explore the most impressive fortified medieval town in Europe. It is just an hour’s drive east from Toulouse in the southern France. This beautiful city is the perfect place for a stopover between the Southwest and the Southeast of France. Carcassonne is also the gateway to Spain with Barcelona just one incredibly scenic TGV ride away.

Historically, the medieval city of Carcassonne is one of France’s most important cities. It is situated at the epicenter of numerous historical trade routes. The city has been occupied for over 5,000 years and has been a cultural hub for the past 2,500. In the middle of the 19th century Carcassonne was in such bad repair that it became scheduled for demolition. Fortunately it was saved by the efforts of the local mayor.

5.0
Beth & Jim
We are a couple that contacted Emilie at France Just For You and her responsiveness and services were excellent. She and her husband listened very carefully to our stated interests …
Duration
16 days
Price
US$ 4600
Region
in Loire Valley, Dordogne, Carcassonne & French Riviera

Explore French culture and history in three of its most representative regions: the Loire Valley, Dordogne and the Riviera, with a nice stop in Carcassonne.

Wine Tasting
Towns & Villages
Art & Museums
Duration
13 days
Price
US$ 4180
Region
in Dordogne, Carcassonne & Provence

Experience medieval France in three of the richest heritage regions in the South of France.

Heritage & History
Countryside
Duration
13 days
Price
US$ 3980
Region
in Basque Country, Carcassonne & Provence

This unique self-drive itinerary will have you cross the South of France from its Western coast in the Basque Country to beautiful Provence, with its cicadas and lavender fields.

Wine Tasting
Heritage & History
Countryside
Duration
10 days
Price
US$ 3440
Region
in Bordeaux, Basque Country & Carcassonne

From the Unesco city of Bordeau x and the surrounding world-famous vineyards, to the mythical beach towns of Biarritz and St Jean de Lu z , feeling the fresh air of the Pyrenees foothills, and ending in the mysterious medieval town of Carcassonne . . . what a program!

Wine Tasting
Towns & Villages
Countryside
Duration
20 days
Price
US$ 5920
Region
in Bordeaux, Basque Country, Carcassonne & Dordogne

This loop from Bordeaux will take you on a journey to the South West of France: vineyards, mountains, cliff-hanging fortresses and rolling hills. You will enjoy all the diversity of this unique part of France.

Wine Tasting
Towns & Villages
Duration
16 days
Price
US$ 5020
Region
in Basque Country, Carcassonne & Provence

From the rugged Atlantic coast to the azur-colored Mediterranean Sea – experience the diversity of the South of France.

Wine Tasting
Towns & Villages
Art & Museums
Duration
13 days
Price
US$ 4350
Region
in Carcassonne, Basque Country & Dordogne

Explore the South West of France: fortresses clinging to the cliffs in the Cathar Country and Dordogne, many “most beautiful villages of France”, and a very rich and unique gastronomy. This is where to experience the authentic France.

Heritage & History
Gourmet Food
Countryside
Duration
26 days
Price
US$ 7750
Region
in Paris, Normandy, Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Provence & French Riviera

Spend about a month traveling from Paris to Nice on the French Riviera and get a real feel for the authentic France!

Wine Tasting
Heritage & History
Countryside
Duration
26 days
Price
US$ 7320
Region
in Bordeaux, Dordogne, Basque Country, Carcassonne & Provence

When the South of France is mentionned, many travelers think of Provence. But there is so much more to discover between the South-West and the South-East of France. This 26 day itinerary is designed to give you a very complete tour of the southern part of France, enjoying the gastronomy, heritage, wine, villages, and scenic roads . . . the best that France has to offer.

Wine Tasting
Gourmet Food
Carcassonne

How to Get to Carcassonne

If you are coming from abroad, getting to the medieval city of Carcassonne can be a challenge (unless you are coming from Barcelona, in which case you can just get the TGV train). If you are coming from within France then the city is accessible by train or by car.

The closest airport to Carcassonne is Toulouse so this will be the most convenient international airport to fly into. From the airport, you can hop on the 45-minute train from Toulouse Matabiau station to Carcassonne. Alternatively, you can hire a car and drive from Toulouse to Carcassonne, which takes around an hour.

Our self drive tours in Carcassonne are also a great option if you are traveling between the Dordogne and Provence, as Carcassonne is an excellent stopover. Situated almost exactly midway between the two, travellers can spend a day or two in the medieval city of Carcassonne before continuing their journey.

 

Medieval City of Carcassonne

The medieval city of Carcassonne -  ©Paul Palau

 

 

The Cathar Country

Sitting at the foot of the dramatic Pyrenees Mountains, not far from the Spanish border, is Cathar Country. Cathar Country, or Pays Cathare, is the region where Cathar history and heritage was most prominent. This area includes Montségur and Carcassonne.
Cathar Country is not just famous for its history – it is one of France’s most picturesque regions. Bathed in sunlight, Cathar Country boasts medieval castles hidden behind rugged swathes of natural beauty. You are sure to be left breathless as you explore this part of France. It also offers a romantic setting and we recommend it for wedding anniversary trips or romantic trips.

 

History of Carcassonne & the Cathar Country

During the 12th century in the South of France, a Christian religion different from Catholicism developed: Catharism. This new belief was based on Christianity but was very critical of Catholicism and spread like wildfire through Occitania. To thwart this new religion, Pope Innocent III decided to start a crusade against the Albigeans. This point in history is responsible for some of the magnificent cliff-hanging fortresses found on the slopes of the Pyrenees.

Take the time while you are here to explore the Perpeytuse and Quéribus fortresses. Sitting atop their own respective mounds, these ruined Cathar castles are staggering in their size and are a must-see.

 

Queribus castle Carcassonne

Quéribus Cathar cliff-hanging fortress - ©Cucugan

 

Of course, if you’re really keen on fortresses then your first port of call should be the Carcassonne fortress, including Carcassonne castle and ramparts. This is the largest fortified medieval city in Europe and never fails to impress travelers visiting Carcassonne. We will include an interesting self-guided walking tour of Carcassonne in your Carcassonne itinerary. This will show you the most important parts of the fortress and share key facts about it. 

The earliest version of the fort dates back to around 500 BC. However, Carcassonne fortress has had a lot of work done since then. The city was most notably restored in 1853 by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, and later added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1997.

 

Day Trips from Carcassonne

  • Lourdes

Whilst in Carcassonne, we warmly recommend a day trip to Lourdes, which is less than 3 hours' drive away. Lourdes is one of the most popular Catholic sites on the planet. It receives around 6 million tourists and religious pilgrims every year.

  • Vineyards of the Minervois

If you're interested in Carcassonne vineyard tours, another fantastic day trip from the medieval city of Carcassonne is a visit to the vineyards of the Minervois. Drive for an hour through beautiful rural France and reward yourself at the end with a glass of world-class wine. Just make sure you have someone else to drive you home!

  • Tautavel

If you are interested in history, visit the oldest man ever found in France at the Tautavel Museum of Prehistory.

 

  • Narbonne

On the way to Tautavel you could stop in at Narbonne and explore the city’s stunning old town.

 

  • The Côte d’Argent 

One final day trip option is to head to France’s Côte d’Argent (Silver Coast). Here sand meets sea and the whole thing is drenched in sunlight. Be sure to check out the quaint towns of Collioure, Banyuls sur Mer and Port Vendres. To us, you'll find some of the nicest beaches in France.

 

Collioure France

Collioure on the Côte d'Argent 

 

Where to Stay in Carcassonne

The great thing about Carcassonne is that it is just as impressive by night as it is by day. For this reason, we have selected accommodation along the walls of the medieval fortress for travelers on our Carcassonne tours. Here you are perfectly positioned to make the most of the city. We always work with premium B&Bs - Chambres d'Hôtes in French - but we only share their names with our travelers. This way they remain hidden gems!

If you would rather stay in the countryside, we have a range of properties along the Canal du Midi. This option offers guests ultimate tranquility and the chance to do some wine tasting with their host.

During the Carcassonne Festival in July month, the city gets really busy and lively.

It is impossible not to fall in love with Carcassonne’s medieval charm. Travel back centuries with every step you take and witness the history that reveals itself around every corner. Our self guided tour of Carcassonne will allow you to enjoy the best of this region at your own pace. 

 

Canal du Midi Carcassonne

 Canal du Midi in Carcassonne - ©Paul Palau

 

FAQs about Carcassonne

What food is Carcassonne famous for?

When you're visiting Carcassonne, be sure to try cassoulet, a rich, delicious, slow-cooked stew. Foie gras is also popular, as well as foies secs (pork liver). You can also enjoy some very fine wine from the vineyards of the Minervois.

How many days should I spend in Carcassonne?

On our Carcassonne tours, we normally have our travelers spend 2-3 nights in the medieval city of Carcassonne. This gives you enough time to explore the walled city of Carcassonne, and some of the gorgeous surrounding countryside and places of interest, including the Cathar Country.

Was Robin Hood filmed at Carcassonne?

Some scenes from Robin Hood included the walls and towers of the medieval city of Carcassonne for the portrayal of Nottingham and its castle.

 

Visit other French regions

Brittany

Alsace

North

Lyon

Somme

Champagne

Verdun

Normandy

Provence

Dordogne

Loire Valley

Paris

Bordeaux

Our Travelers’ Reviews

Ellen & Rob
We have just return from an amazing holiday arranged by France Just for You - visiting Paris, Vimy Ridge, Normandy (D-Day Beaches) and Mont Saint Michel. Emilie listened to what our wishes were and arranged everything in great detail. The accommodations (hotels and bed and breakfasts) all had so much charm and character - the hosts were very …
Natalie & Family
My husband was born in France and moved to Australia in 1970 when he was just 5. He went back for the last time in 1980 and had not returned since. In January 2017 I started to formulate an idea to surprise him with a trip back home. Being Australian, we love road trips but without his French language skills I felt a bit scared to start booking …
Robert & Karen
Anyone planning a trip to France, whether for the first time or for the twelfth (like me), will benefit from the fabulous itinerary that Emilie can craft for you. My husband and I just returned from 2 1/2 weeks in the Medoc and the Loire Valley that Emilie planned for us: top-notch historic B&Bs with character, charming friendly hosts and sumptuous …

Our Travelers’ Photos

Alan & Lucelle
From South Africa
In Mont Saint Michel at the border between Brittany & Normandy
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Cooking outdoor in Provence, bon appétit !
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in a cellar in the Loire Valley
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from the US
on the French Riviera, near Nice
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On the Eiffel Tower
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Romantic night in Montecarlo
Ginger & Tom
from the US
At their B&B in the Loire Valley
Diana & Michael
A glass of wine in the Provence vineyards, what else ?
Maureen & Victor
from the US
Visiting an Abbey in the Loire Valley
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From the US
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In Ménerbes, Provence