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Languedoc Area of Southern France

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The Canal du Midi


The fairytale walled citadel of Carcassonne is the most impressive example of a medieval fortified town left in Western Europe. Standing on high ground above the river Aude, the oldest parts dating from the Roman period, it is defended by 52 sturdy towers, with pointed roofs and huge heavily fortified entrance gate-houses linked by three kilometres of crenulated double ramparts. In the 13th century it was a stronghold for the Cathars in their battle for independence from the North. In 1850 the citadel was under a destruction order and stones from the walls were being auctioned off but Eugene Viollet le Duc set about restoring it. The fortress and cathedral were repaired, the towers and gates rebuilt with their conical roofs added once more and new crenulations were added throughout to the walls. Gradually over the next half century Carcassonne was restored to a 13th century fortress.


  Market days Tuesday and Saturday Mornings


Once you are inside, Carcassonne is as compact as you would expect of a citadel, with sinewy streets that seek out every crevice. The buff stone and brown plaster walls are topped with their terra cotta roof-tiles, and have a comfortable feeling. In summer the walls and even whole courtyards are covered with vines, a perfect place to rest from the sun surrounded by houses, shops, restaurants  & cafes. Enclosed with the fortifications is the superb Chateau Comtal, the Counts' Castle of 1125. The church, Eglise St. Nazaire combines 11th century Romanesque nave with 13th century Gothic choir. The tower has magnificent views over the Aude valley and the 'new' town of Carcassonne 2km away.  Originally, Carcassonne was not on the route of the Canal du Midi and it was only in 1810 that the port, close to the railway station, was opened.   In 1998 Carcassonne was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

To see and visit in the fortified town of Carcassonne :
The Pont Vieux
The Lapidaire Museum
The Château Comtal
The Saint-Nazaire Cathedral

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