We visited Carcassonne twice, on our first RV trip in 2002 and on our third in 2005. I don't think we will ever forget the first time it suddenly was spread out before us as we rounded a bend in the road. It was a fortress on a hill, taking up the whole horizen before us from left to right, with crenolated walls and conical turrets, some orange, some black. Both of us gasped simultaneously. We had never and have not since, seen anything like this, except possibly in a Disney movie. We learned later that this walled city was used in Kevin Costner's Robin Hood movie.
Carcassonne is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site in Langedoc, which is in southern France west of Provence, located 51 miles southwest of Toulouse and 139 miles west of Arles.  Its first settlements date from pre-Roman times but the present city was rebuilt in the 19th century. The city has two parts, the walled city and the town next to it. It has a long and rich cultural and religious history (for more, go to this link). In Roman times it was a fortified trading city. In the medieval period it was Christian and unsuccessfully attacked by the Merovingian King Clovis. The Saracens successfully took the city in 725 and held it for 34 years. In the 1200's the city was ruled by the Cathars whose religion was antithetical to Christianity. Catholics fought against it in what became known as the Albigensian Crusade, eventually taking the city. The resident Cathars were not slaughtered but were driven naked from the city. From that time, the city saw unsuccessful attempts to retake it by Cathars and seiges during the Hundred Years' Wars, including one unsuccessful attack by England's Black Prince. The use of canons in the 1600's and 1700's made the walls obsolete and the city fell into ruins. But when a decision was made to tear the walls down, there was a huge uproar by the local inhabitants of the town and others who cherished the walled city. As a result the city was rebuilt.
The city is fortified by two walls, an inner and an outer. The area between the two is now a walkway around the city, and also has served as a jousting ground. The walled city boasts narrow cobblestone streets, many shops selling pottery, restaurants and cafes serving a local food favorite, cassoulet, at least three churches and a Cathedral among its attractions. There is also a very pleasant square where, on our first trip, we had coffee sitting at a shaded table hearing a band play and watching children dancing.
Visit Carcassonne by Mouse
Tourist Office    City Web Site (Includes a virtual tour)   Map   Our photos   Slideshow   Other  photos   
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