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Review of Carcassonne Center

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County antrim
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
49 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 September 2009

Carcassonne is two cities in one separated by the Aude river which flows down from the high Pyrenees.

The old "Cite" , which most tourists come to see, dates back to pre-Roman times. It is the most impressively preserved wall city in Europe and has a thriving center of numerous restaurants, hotels and gift shops.
It's position on the old border between the kingdoms of France and Spain -in the middle of the wide plain between the high Pyrenees and the southern tip of the Massif Central, made it the center of power in this area of France.
Carcassonne's most interesting passage of history is the medieval times when the Cathar religion flourished in this region. With a separate religion,language and culture it could well have been a separate country by now associated with the neighboring Spanish Catalonia rather than modern France.
However the Pope,King of France and northern nobility had different ideas and a Crusade followed by the inquisition sorted that out for good.

The lower town or the "New Town" dates back to the 13th century.
It is a Bastide town built as a symbol of the new order with grid-iron streets with central square and defensive walls.
This part of the city is often overlooked by tourists who come to see the old "Cite".
It is a thriving modern town with excellent shopping and many good restaurants and cafes. It is worthy of a visit by itself being the contrast of the tourist haven of the "Cite" which overlooks it.
The Canal Du Midi passes along the northern end of the lower town and it is well worth a stroll along the tree-lined banks.

Carcassonne is well worth a weekend break or a longer stay as the base for visiting the numerous tourist venues all within a hour's drive. To name a few worth visiting:

The four towers of Lastours along with the cave systems of Limousis and Cabrespine all within 10mins of each other and 20 mins drive from Carcassone.

Drive from Carcassone to Montolieu, the picturesque book village and then onto Saissac with impressive views of the Pyrenees and beautiful village with Cathar castle onto St. Ferreol lake for a walk or swim and onto Revel - a smaller Bastide town with beautiful Sat. morning market.-Return via Castlenaudary along the Canal du Midi.

Visit Limoux and the surrounding producers of the sparkling white wine named after it and which surpasses the quality of Champagne any day! The nearly spa town of Rennes Les Bains and the upper valleys of the Aude river with impressive river gorges.

A trip to the med is within a hour on the motorway although a more picturesque route is following the Canal Du Midi as is meanders along the countryside towards the sea.
The road passes through Trebes as is crosses over the canal.
Along this route try to take in some of the sights- Minerve(slightly off the road),the Olive oil factory at Bize-Minervois, Le Somail-incredibly picturesque hamlet on the canal,L'Oppidum d'Ensérune-a roman settlement on a hill overlooking the canal and curious l'Etang de Montady, the Seven connected locks at Fonséranes on the edge of Bezier onto Narbonne with is half finished cathedral and Roman Via Domita in the central square.
The beach at Narbonne Plage is only 10 mins away although if you want something more picturesque try Le Franqui or Leucate some 20mins further down the coast towards Spain.

Slightly further afield is a trip up the Orb valley following the course the river from Cessenon Sur Orb with nearby rapids at Reals onto Roquebrun (beautiful village) onto the Gorges D'Heric(stunningly beautiful high mountain river gorges accessible on foot from car park near village of Mons) onto Olarges (beautiful village). Make your way back to Carcassonne through the Minervois and visit the numerous wine producers or Caunes Minervois with it's beautiful Abbey.

26 Thank CambridgeK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
31 helpful votes
“Carcassonne and Disability”
Reviewed 18 September 2009

You don’t see a great deal on this site – or indeed on any other travel site – about accessibility of popular tourist locations to the disabled. There are many forms of disability and I can only speak for the physically disabled since I don’t have experience of any other. Moreover, how accessible a place is will depend on the severity of your disability but I think it would be a step forward to have one particular disabled person’s experience of visiting Carcassonne in France. Why Carcassonne? Firstly, because I went there. Secondly, because it’s a major tourist attraction with high visitor numbers – some of those considering a visit must be disabled to some extent and thirdly, because what little information I could find before going tended to be on the negative side. The latter is probably understandable because of Carcassonne’s position and layout.

For this post to be of any use to another disabled person you need to know how disabled I am to judge your position against. Two years ago, I had an accident leaving me with a spinal cord injury that now restricts my walking to about 25m with two sticks and I am heavily dependent on an electric mobility scooter to have any meaningful independence and freedom. My wife and I have a camping car for travel and the scooter rides on a bicycle rack at the rear. France is somewhere we go from time to time for relaxation from a business life and Carcassonne has been high on the list of places to visit for many years but somehow it never happened before the accident. Clearly, it seemed a different proposition now. We should not have worried.

Carcassonne consists of two adjacent small cities on either bank of the river Aude. On the right hand bank is the much more famous mediaeval, fortified city which dates from roman times while a short distance away over the Pont Vieux on the left bank is a later bastide of 14thC construction and later. We parked up the motorcaravan in a campsite just south of the bastide which, while only a 10 min walk away, was too far for me and unsuitable for the scooter. Taxi’s, however, abound and we called one up to take us plus scooter to the Porte Narbonnaise – principle entrance to the mediaeval city. The first port of call was to be the tourism office just inside the gate as that seemed likely to be the most suitable place to get advice on how to approach the visit. Not a good move. To my astonishment, the office is located down a dozen steep stone steps in the base of one of the towers. With some difficulty, and not without some risk, I did get down but wished I hadn’t bothered. I spoke to a surly young man who, when asked for his advice, just shrugged his shoulders in a Gallic fashion and said I would find it very difficult and wouldn’t be able to visit much at all. Back up the hazardous steps again all the more determined.

The mediaeval city is cobbled throughout. By experience, I’ve become quite an authority on cobbles and wheelchairs/scooters etc. To the fit person cobbles are all much the same but they actually vary considerably in size, shape and height. What’s important to the wheelchair user is whether they are round or flat-topped, their height above the cement grout and how wide each cobble is. Those at Carcassonne are mostly flat-topped, set reasonably low into the grout and quite wide. At slow speed, they are perfectly passable – even if you get shook up a bit! Wheelchair pushers are in for a harder time, not because of the cobbles, but because of the inclines which can be quite steep.

What can’t you do? For me, the chateau and ramparts were a no-no – as I expect they would be for any but the most lightly disabled. The problem there is the steps. That’s not the end of the world since you can do a virtual tour on the web which gives you some idea of what you might be missing. We also took a small train ride, which leaves from outside the Porte Narbonnaise, around the fortifications so that you get a very good impression of the overall layout as a whole and gives an insight into the sheer size of the construction.

Everything else in the mediaeval city was accessible. The Basilique St.-Nazaire (well worth a look) is easily wheelchair/scooter available via a simple two inch step from the roadway. For drinks and food, prices tend to be as high as you might expect in a tourist honey-trap but we had a very reasonable lunch off the beaten track near the Place Marcou.

The Ville Basse is easier going. No cobbles – just a typical bastide town with a grid layout of streets which is easy to find your way around. The route between the two cities is no more than 10 mins and mostly wheelchair/scooter friendly with wide pavements. Occasionally, you have to use the road but there are not many cars and the Pont Vieux is traffic-free with stunning views. One thing the French seem not to have quite come to terms with is dropped pavements. There are some but you have to search them out and plan your route accordingly.

St Michael’s Cathedral, unfortunately, was completely off-limits to me as a descending staircase of twenty stone steps without handrails guarded the main entrance on both sides but go and sit at one of the numerous pavement cafes in the Place Carnot with a beer and watch the world go by. You’ll see why the French are different.

Carcassonne is more accessible to most disabled people than reports (and the tourism office!) might lead you to believe. Go and see it with some confidence and let your imagination roam.

31 Thank Portiaman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
27 helpful votes
“Old interesting city, little else”
Reviewed 13 September 2009

Nicely preserved walled fortress city, now only has tourist shops and restaurants inside. The shops weren't too bad though, some interesting local artisan shops and shady plazas with restaurants. Outside the walled city which is filled with tourists there is little else though.

Thank Poseiden
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
31 helpful votes
“History comes to life! but visit the "new town" as well”
Reviewed 21 June 2009

Stunning place to visit, the tour of the Castle is well worth doing, but you can walk around the outside of the ramparts if you just want to take in the stunning vistas. We stayed inside the walled city itself, which was crowded and hot during the day, but lovely in the evening when the coach parties had departed. Huge choice of eateries of all shapes and sizes, lots of bars and "tourist" shopping. About a 10 minute walk down into the actual town of Carcassonne, over the old bridge. Market on Saturday morning, fruit and veg etc in the town square, and a more general market on the outskirts but interesting and very multicultural. If you walk through the centre of the town you will come to the Canal du Mide. We enjoyed a short cruise along the Canal, not a huge amount to see, we went through one lock, but very peaceful and tranquil. Lots of restaurants and bars in the "new" town, everyone very friendly and if visiting again would probably choose to stay in that part of the town.

3 Thank Pinkscatty1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Carcassonne, France
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
15 helpful votes
“Best B&B in Carcassonne, France!”
Reviewed 9 May 2009

My wife and I just stayed in the Bed and Breakfast of our dreams! Domaine Saint Pierre de Trapel, a magnificent former wine estate 5 minutes from the fabulous medieval walled city of Carcassonne in southern France. I can’t ever remember seeing more elegant bedrooms and bathrooms, each one completely different, each one reflecting the refined taste and originality of the charming owners, Catherine and Christophe Pariset. Nearby Carcassonne airport with RyanAir flights to Belgium, the UK and Ireland. Restaurants galore from the simple to Michelin Star quality all nearby. And the icing on the cake: the Parisets have spent the last 10 years exploring – and falling in love with – the marvelous wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon region and Christophe has selected a few of the best to share with their guests. We WILL go back!

4 Thank Timgeorge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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