Skip to Content

Carcassonne – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Are you looking for the most dazzling, historical, and romantic places to visit in France? Carcassonne is a world heritage site that oozes charm. With the best weather and food, it’s definitely one of the best places to visit on your France itinerary.

Growing up, every child wants to explore or live in a castle. You would think that with so many castles and medieval towns that we wouldn’t get too excited when we’re heading to another one. However, as soon as you come over the hill, Carcassonne takes your breath away. It is a stunning medieval walled city in Cathar country of the Occitanie region and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, truly one of the most beautiful in France.

Being such an iconic structure, needless to say, in the middle of summer there were plenty of people walking through the cobbled alleyways, sitting at sidewalk cafes, and annoyingly getting in my photos. It wasn’t always this way. In the middle of the 19th century, the fortifications were in such disrepair that they were scheduled for demolition (source). The mayor, knowing what he potentially had, turned it all around and convinced the government to invest money in reconstruction. How smart he was!

We arrived at the gate of the walled city around 9:00 in the morning. We’d been in the area for a few days, and we knew if we waited too much later that the sun would be sweltering and we would quickly become a bit testy. Luckily, we were out and about before too many people and were able to really enjoy the quaintly painted shopfronts, medieval-style business signs, and the many turrets, statues, as well as the stunning gothic cathedral and even a chateau. Yep! Carcassonne has it all.

In the center of the town, we saw one of the reasons that there were people everywhere. They were holding a summer music festival. There was a show that evening and we enjoyed watching the roadies preparing for the event.

One of our favorite parts of visiting the town was actually outside the gates. There we wandered into a centuries-old cemetery and wondered at the sizes of the tombs with massive angel statues guarding them through eternity.

After a few hours, we treated ourselves to our traditional French lunch by finding a small out-of-the-way place that has a “menu”. The French day menu usually consists of three courses for an extremely reasonable price of anywhere between 12 and 21 Euros. We’ve been amazed at what we can get for that, so we always tried to eat a larger lunch and a smaller dinner.

One of our favorite things to do is have the waiter or maitre d’ suggest the perfect local wine for us. If we like it, and we always do, after we were done eating we would go searching for that particular vineyard.

More often than not, the vineyards seemed almost deserted yet sported a sign that says “degustation” or tasting, so we knew that all we had to do is find someone and they would regale us with their selections. Not once did we leave without a case of mixed wines as well as a nice talk with the vintners.

If you happen to be in the south of France take the time to get to Carcassonne!

Other amazing world heritage sites in France include that we can highly recommend are: Scandola Nature Preserve, Mont St. Michel, and the Loire Valley.

The south of France has so many amazing travel opportunities and one of the ones on our bucket list is Cruising the Canal du Midi. Someday, someday.

Have you been to Carcassonne? How about searching out the vintner of your lunch wine? Any tips?

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

France – Easy Planning Tips

Flying into France, you’ll probably at least start in Paris, so spend a couple of days here before you move on. Here’s a few Paris tours that will ensure you’ve ticked off the most important sites:

Hop On Hop Off Tour Of Paris ($40)

Visit the Louvre and Take a Seine Cruise ($45)

Day Trip to the Palace of Versailles incl. Lunch ($80)

If you like doing it on your own, you may want to save money with the Paris Pass (good for transport and sightseeing for 2-6 days).

Where to Stay? There are so many great hotels in France and we love using for the ease of comparison and finding exactly what we want.

Some items you do not want to forget while packing for your France trip:

Sunglasses and sunscreen

– A rain jacket and umbrella

Memory Cards for your camera

Carcassonne World Heritage

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

If you enjoyed Carcassonne...

Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

Monday 17th of August 2015

Corinne you did a great job at getting photos without the squilions of people. I've been to Carcasonne a couple of times and prefer the look of it from outside the walls and like walking around the ramparts rather than the actual inside. I found it over-run with tacky "gothic" souvenir shops selling skulls, bats etc which ruined it for me. But the view from across the river is unbeatable, it really is the perfect fairy tale castle. Then the "new" town on the Canal du Midi is lovely too.

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 18th of August 2015

Phoebe, It is certainly a gorgeous place. Like I said, we went,walked around, and left rather early before too many people were there. We loved it.

Christy Swagerty

Wednesday 12th of August 2015

I LOVE your idea of hunting down the local wine after lunch! What a fun activity/mission together! I haven't been able to make it to Carcassonne yet, but am excited for the day I will! Great post!

Corinne Vail

Thursday 13th of August 2015

Christy, Hunting down wine can be done in so many places, too! You'll love Carcassonne.


Wednesday 12th of August 2015

I know how frustrating it can be when you go somewhere dreamy and have to share it with a billion people. I felt that way in New Zealand. It was always a challenge to take photos without people in them at really popular locations, especially once a tour bus pulled up. Great job getting some wonderful shots of this beautiful castle!!

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 12th of August 2015

Jacqueline, Thanks! It takes patience, but it usually can be done!


Tuesday 11th of August 2015

Hi Corrine! WOW! This is just so gorgeous. Rapunzel could certainly have let her hair down from the top of one on those turrets :) Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 12th of August 2015

Nancie, It is a beautiful place, and yes, you can imagine princesses stuck in the towers!

Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault

Tuesday 11th of August 2015

We have the board game Carcassonne and play it absolutely loads. Our current dream is to visit the city and play it there! #AllABoutFrance

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 12th of August 2015

Rosie, That would be great! I hope it happens soon.