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.

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It's hard to know where to begin. We stumbled across France Just For You by accident when researching ideas for our three week visit to France. We made contact with Emily by email …
Duration
16 days
Price
US$ 3880
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 Tours
Villages & Markets Tours
Art & Museums Tours
Duration
13 days
Price
US$ 3600
Region
in Dordogne, Carcassonne & Provence

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

Heritage & History Tours
Countryside Tours
Duration
13 days
Price
US$ 3320
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 Tours
Heritage & History Tours
Countryside Tours
Duration
10 days
Price
US$ 2940
Region
in Bordeaux, Basque Country & Carcassonne

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

Wine Tasting Tours
Villages & Markets Tours
Countryside Tours
Duration
20 days
Price
US$ 4780
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 Tours
Villages & Markets Tours
Duration
16 days
Price
US$ 4360
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 Tours
Villages & Markets Tours
Art & Museums Tours
Duration
13 days
Price
US$ 3480
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 Tours
Gourmet Food Tours
Countryside Tours
Duration
26 days
Price
US$ 6080
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 Tours
Heritage & History Tours
Countryside Tours
Duration
26 days
Price
US$ 6120
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 Tours
Gourmet Food Tours
Carcassonne

How to Get to Carcassonne

If you are coming from abroad, getting to 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.

Carcassonne also makes an excellent stopover if you are traveling between the Dordogne and Provence. Situated almost exactly mid-way between the two, travellers can spend a day or two in Carcassonne before continuing their journey.

 

Medieval City of Carcassonne

Carcassonne Medieval City -  ©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.of cour

 

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. This is the largest fortified medieval city in Europe and never fails to impress. We will include an interesting self-guided walking tour of the town 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

Another fantastic day trip from 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. 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 the 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

 

Visit other French regions

Alsace

North

Lyon

Somme

Champagne

Verdun

Normandy

Provence

Dordogne

Loire Valley

Paris

Bordeaux

Our Travelers’ Reviews

Kate & Sister
My sister and I wanted to plan a vacation together with our husbands to Normandy and the Loire Valley so I started online only to find it was a difficult process. We found "France Just for You" and our problems were solved, Emilie planned every detail! Our hosts in all accommodations spoke English and made us feel most welcome, our stay in each …
Daisy
We had an amazing experience visiting Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne in June 2018. We were a group of eight wine freaks and Emile & Laura organized an amazing itinerary with awesome attention to details. We definitely recommend FJFY!!
Lawrence
Staying in B&B’s is a great way to see the country and meet the people who live there in their normal environment. And, “France Just for You” provides an excellent way to have this experience. Emilie’s knowledge and detailed planning made the trip exciting and enjoyable! We will definitely seek her out for our next trip to France.

Our Travelers’ Photos

Scott & Linda
From Australia
In Mont Saint Michel
Kathie, Brian, Joan & Richard
from the US
In Monet's gardens in Giverny
Shelley, Andy, Dianne & Bob
from the US
On the Eiffel Tower in Paris
The Khaw Family
From Malaysia
With their guide Raphaelle in Paris with Notre Dame Cathedral in the background.
Myrna & Duncan
from Canada
In Eze gardens on the Riviera
Pam & Rick
From the US
Tasting some oysters and white wine in the Basque Country
Lorelea, Teresa, Diane & Chris
From the US
With their hostess in Lille, Northern France
David & Lindsay
From the US
Celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary in France
Sharon & Gary
from Canada
In Chambord castle - Loire Valley
Shirley & Bob
from the US
After a concert in Paris
The Rimlinger Family
from Australia
Came to find out about their French ancestors
Tonia & Peter
from Canada
at the Louvre Museum in Paris