NEED TO KNOW
LOCATION Carcassonne is in the southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon
POPULATION Around 44,000
VISITORS PER YEAR Around 3 million
DAYTIME TEMPERATURES Jan: 43°F (6°C); Apr: 54°F (12°C); Jul: 73°F (23°C); Oct: 59°F (15°C)
It may be a highly regarded attraction today, but Carcassonne’s walled city, known as “La Cité,” was very nearly lost to history: in 1849, the French government announced that it was in such disrepair that it would have to be demolished.
Following a public outcry, the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, who was also responsible for work on Notre-Dame de Paris, was commissioned to restore the fortifications as a monument of historical importance.
Today, it is possible to take tours of the castle and its ramparts, and the Romanesque and Gothic St. Nazaire Basilica is a very popular sight. The Ville Basse (Lower Town), outside the walls, boasts two handsome 13th-century churches.
Carcassonne is linked by air to several cities in the UK and Ireland, including London and Dublin. The town is also easily reached by train from other cities in France.
When to Go
The temperate climate means that Carcassonne can be visited throughout the year, but it is at its busiest in the summer months. Some attractions are closed in winter.