Difference between revisions of "Carcassonne"
Revision as of 13:22, 8 July 2012
Carcassonne is divided into two main parts:
High speed TGV trains from Lille, Bruxelles, Dijon, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse call at Carcassone. Slower Corail Téoz between Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice and Paris towards Cerbère and Port-Bou (and overnight Corail Lunéa couchette trains between Paris and Cerbère / Port-Bou) also stop.
An extensive network of frequent, modern and comfortable regional services are provided by SNCF's TER Languedoc-Roussillon , with services to Toulouse, Narbonne, Marseille, Cerbère, Perpignan, Limoux and Quillan.
The train journey from Toulouse is around 1hr to 1hr 15min depending on the train type.
Carcassonne Airport (IATA: CCF)  is located 3km from the centre of Carcassonne.
Ryanair  serves the airport to/from Billund, Bournemouth, Brussels( Charleroi), Cork, Dublin, Eindhoven, Glasgow (Prestwick), Liverpool, London (Stansted), Nottingham (East Midlands airport) and Porto.
A shuttle bus (navette aéroport in French; 5€ per person) runs between the airport and Carcassonne town centre (SNCF railway station). Some shuttle buses (but not all) also stop at the Cité. The shuttle bus timetable is available at the airport website: 
A taxi between the airport and Carcassonne town centre costs around 10€ to 15€, whilst a taxi between the airport and the Cité costs around 15€ to 20€.
The Cité is around 20 minutes by foot from the railway station. The main tourist sights in Carcassonne are situated within easy walking distance of each other.
Left luggage: There are no left luggage facilities at the train station, though you can leave your luggage at the Hotel La Bastide Saint Louis (42 rue Barbes 11000 Carcassonne; 3€ for 1/2 day and 5€ for 1 day), which is useful if you wish to visit Carcassonne before catching a flight from Carcassonne airport.
Much to see in this somewhat neglected region of France. Get into the hills and visit little villages like Minerve. Try using the Michelin maps but forsake the red roads and take to the little white roads. You will be rewarded by seeing lovely little places that tour buses etc never visit.
Carcassonne can also be visited departing from Toulouse.
Medieval jousting displays are held twice a day between the two walls. Whilst this may sound like a typical tourist activity, this is actually a very impressive and entertaining display of horsemanship and combative competition. Entry is €10 for adults as of Summer 2008 - certainly one of best €10 that we we spent on our Summer trip.
If you're up to it, the Torture Museum is also worth a visit. It's small but filled with torture instruments from the Middle Ages. Not for the squeamish!
There are regular barge trips along the historic Canal du Midi, and these are a very relaxing way of spending some time. The boats leave from the jetty just outside the main train station, and tickets can be bought from clearly signposted vendors at the canal-side (just beside the lock). Multilingual commentary is provided on the history of the canal and the various sights along the way.
Festival de Carcassonne is held in July and August . Around half of July there is huge firework show (second biggest in France).
Don't leave Carcassonne without trying cassoulet, a local dish made of beans, sausage and duck. Foie gras is also a speciality of the region, so expect it to be on many menus.
There are bars around the train station (la gare) that offer cheap eats. There are a few restaurants on rue Trivalle, the road that connects the town centre with the Cité. Le Trivalou (69 rue Trivalle) has very friendly service and delicious home-made dishes, including cassoulet (16€). There are also quite a few restaurants clustered around the main square inside the Cité, the majority of which have outside tables so you can people-watch and enjoy the buzz of the square on summer evenings!
Budget permitting, there are several excellent restaurants inside the Cité, serving really good regional food. Among them are La Barbacane, Chez Saskia, Restaurant Comte Roger and the Brasserie le Donjon. These all serve divine food and the service is, as you would expect, impeccable.
As Carcassonne can get quite touristy during the summer season, restaurants can become crowded and the prices charged can be a bit over the top. You may therefore wish to eat away from the Cité, perhaps in the town centre instead, or better in one of the enchanting villages away from Carcassonne.
Be careful not to get to the town late when your hotel is far away from the city centre, because it is difficult to get a taxi.
The hotels in the town centre around the train station are convenient but better book earlier in high season.