Cite de Carcassonne
Drawing thousands of visitors each year, the medieval fortifications of Carcassonne completely dominate its skyline and sprawl. Known as ‘La Cite’, the citadel unfolds into an extravagant mass of 53 towers, draw-bridges, heavy barbicans, concentric walls and a moat.
You won’t have a wide variety of hotels within the citadel walls, but those that are, enjoy a medieval splendour that can’t be found elsewhere in the city. Hotel Best Western Le Donjon offers individually appointed rooms surrounded by the ramparts, while the Hotel de la Cite is the city’s most luxurious hotel, boasting a Michelin-starred restaurant and a pool overlooking Saint Nazaire Basilica.
La Ville Basse
While it may be smaller and lesser known that its hilltop counterpart, Carcassonne’s lower town, La Ville Basse, is a typically French village complete with cobbled laneways, petite bistros and charming cafes. Drink in the convivial atmosphere of the city’s best shopping boulevards, weekly food market and cosy bars that spill out on the streets.
You won’t be hard pressed finding somewhere to set up base as the majority of Carcassonne hotels are located here. For a little slice of familiarity, Hotel Ibis is a great and affordable option, or you could spoil yourself with a boutique apartment at the lavish 42 Rue Victor Hugo.
Carcassonnne is France’s most popular tourist attraction (second to the Eiffel Tower) so you may find yourself tackling the crowds as you make your way up to the citadel. For a slower pace, head North West to Toulouse, a historic Roman settlement or see the delights of Albi, a quaint World Heritage-listed town.
Though, if you prefer to make the most of your time exploring Carcassonne, but could do without the crowds, consider staying further afield in a chateau for not only some peace and quiet, but a quintessential French experience. Chateau de Floure and Chateau de Blomac will welcome you in true 17th Century style.