A spectacular sight!

Guided tours are available for history buffs, but the Cité reveals its riches to any unsuspecting visitor who takes the time to wander through the narrow medieval streets and let their inner child become a knight or a damsel!
There are plenty of places to eat, whatever your budget, and even to stay overnight within the citadel walls.
There’s no shortage of activities, whatever the time of year: Carcassonne festival, summer knights’ tournament, medieval market, winter procession by torch light and, of course the famous 14 July firework display and bonfire! Legendary!

Technical form

Take the children

For the whole family and in all seasons

Average duration

Allow a full day to visit properly, including the castle

Admission fees

Free access to the Citadel, fees apply for the Counts’ Castle and the rampart walk.

Heritage

The site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage of Humanity list in 1997.

A troubled history

Did you know?

The legend of Dame Carcas:
the town of Carcassonne owes its name to a smart princess…

Find out more +

Visite de la Cité Carcassonne par la porte narbonnaise ©ADT de l'Aude

Carcassonne has existed for nearly 2,500 years. Over the centuries it has been a Roman villa and a medieval viscountcy under the Trencavels dynasty. It has fallen to the terror of the crusades, it has been destroyed, rebuilt, extended and fortified. It has been abandoned and later saved from destruction, before eventually being restored in the 19th century under a large-scale project undertaken by Viollet-le-Duc. It joined the UNESCO heritage list in 1997.
Each period of its history has left traces on the walls of this ancient Citadel, offering visitors a chance to admire a life-size history book!

Balade en couple à la Cité de Carcassonne ©Philippe Benoist-ADT de l'Aude

The ramparts

Balade dans la lice de la Cité de Carcassonne ©ADT de l'Aude

Bailey and rampart walks…

Before entering the Citadel, visit the Bailey, a large open space between the two rampart walls. You’ll get a feel for the monument’s sheer size and admire the architecture dating back 2,000 years, from the medieval Gallo-Roman towers to the walls that were restored during the 19th century. There are beautiful views over the lower town, the Montagne Noire and the Pyrenees!

The Counts' Castle

The palace of the Trencavels viscounts really is a “fortress within the fortress”.
Nowadays, it houses a museum, with sizeable collections and various remains from the Citadel and the surrounding region, including steles, sculptures, sarcophagi, wall paintings, statues, etc.
Carcassonne et sa Cité ©Office Municipal de Tourisme de Carcassonne

A top favourite

The tour begins with a film projection on a giant screen which explains the history of the castle and how it has evolved. English subtitles

Find out more +

Vue sur la cour du Château comtal dans la Cité de Carcassonne ©Monuments de France
Beware
Opening times vary throughout the year. To get the full benefit of your visit, be sure to arrive at least an hour before closing time!

For anyone visiting the Citadel, the castle tour is not to be missed ! Between towers, staircases and wall walks, there’s something to discover in every nook and cranny, new viewpoints from which to admire this monument, and plenty of hard facts on the highly elaborate defence systems set up by our ancestors to protect their town! Total immersion in the Middle Ages!

The tour also includes a rampart trail offering exclusive panoramic views over the region and the heart of the Citadel.

Discovering with applications

To enhance your visitor experience, you can follow in the footsteps of the Cathars with our mobile apps:
"Guide to Cathar Country" ,
pour une visite approfondie et interactive du site,
"Castrum" ,
an amusing app that makes culture fun.

An invitation to further explore the main sights of Cathar Country.

Visite de la Cité de Carcassonne ©Pierre Davy-ADT de l'Aude

Saint Nazaire basilica

What the expert says
Best visited early or late in the day, when the low sun brightens the colourful stained glass windows.
Contemplez les vitraux de la Basilique Saint Nazaire ©Monument de France

It was Pope Urbain II who, in 1096, came to Carcassonne and blessed the first stone laid for the construction of the cathedral. Its origins are indeed ancient.

In the early 19th century, it yielded its status to the cathedral of Saint Michel located in the lower part of Carcassonne.

It achieved its honorary status of Basilica in 1898. It is nonetheless one of the town’s key monuments and an absolute must-see.The juxtaposition of the Roman and Gothic parts is surprising, yet harmonious. The basilica boasts the most beautiful stained glass windows of the South of France.

At a stone’s throw, the lower town

Bastide
Saint Louis

Besides the medieval Citadel, Carcassonne also includes the lower town, or Bastide Saint Louis, a lively district which you can easily reach on foot by crossing the Pont Vieux, a medieval bridge that straddles the River Aude and offers a panoramic view of the Citadel.

There you’ll discover an abundance of sights (private mansions, churches and chapels, the market hall and Place Carnot where a market is held 3 times a week) and, above all, the Canal du Midi, another UNESCO World Heritage feature.

Carcassonne, cité, vigne

Experience

Medieval Carcassonne, a castle & cobblestone walkabout

1 day

Find out more

Find out more...

Besides its monumental status, the Cité of Carcassonne also offers a wide range of restaurants and accommodation. The luckiest visitors can even stay within the Citadel walls. An invitation to enjoy some unusual tours – discover all tourist attractions and facilities in the town and the surrounding area.

MUSÉE DE L'ÉCOLE

Museums CARCASSONNE

From 6€

Practical tips

Parking

There’s no shortage of easy parking, with pay car parks very close to the Cité.

Getting here

By car: via the A61 motorway, exit 24 (Carcassonne East, the nearest) or exit 23 (Carcassonne West).
By train: Carcassonne station, a 25 to 30 minute walk away. Taxis and public transport also available.
By plane: Carcassonne airport operates a number of links with the United Kingdom and Ireland.

What time of year?

The Cité can be visited all year round and each season adds its specific charm: in summer there are more visitors but there’s also more to do and more possibilities to enjoy a drink or a meal outside. The mild weather makes it pleasant to visit in spring and autumn. In winter, you may have the Citadel all to yourself and feel almost as if you’re in the Middle Ages!