Attractions nearby Carcassonne Airport

Carcassonne Airport is one of the main gateways to the Aude department of France, and is located approximately 3km, or 2 miles from the city of Carcassonne. It is however, one of the smaller French airports, with only around 450,000 passengers per annum. Tourists coming to enjoy the variety of Carcassonne attractions will arrive on flights offered by Ryanair, the sole airline carrier of the airport, and will find various transport options available from outside the terminal. Carcassonne, in the southern Languedoc-Roussillon region of the country, is one of the most popular destinations for visitors, as is offers attractions of all kinds. It can be described as one of the most spectacular medieval cities in the country, with over 2,500 years of history to explore.

As a result of historic wars and disputes that took place in the region of Carcassonne, this fortified French city consists of two main areas. These two areas are the fortified Cité de Carcassonne and the Ville Basse, which is the larger lower city division. As one can imagine, a city which is built around such impressive walls of protection houses many interesting sights for its visitors. The Cité area is contained within a concentric design of two huge outer walls which were built to ward off attacks by siege engines. The walls feature many intriguing towers and other impressive constructions. One should also notice the distinctive difference in the various parts of the walls of the city, as they were built during different time periods. One section is Roman, while another is notably medieval, with red bricks and shallow pitch terracotta tile roofs.

One of the interesting towers is known as the ‘Inquisition Tower’, and within is found the ‘Musée de la Torture’. Not for the faint hearted, but an extremely exciting museum to visit for all who can stomach the various displays of torture instruments from the Middle Ages. Many of which are the original equipment once used by the Catholic Church. In total, the magnificent wall of Carcassonne has 53 towers, and stretches for about three kilometres. It is also featured on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list. One of the best ways to fully appreciate the battlements is on foot between the double ring of ramparts, and many guided tours of the walls are offered for tourists. Within the Cité, reside a population of around 120 people, and it boasts a large number of shops and craftsmen. Throughout the maze of narrow cobbled streets there are plenty of interesting small shops to browse, mostly selling a variety of leather goods and artwork. Another important feature of the Cité is the La Bastide Saint Louis, which is one of France’s biggest bastides, and is the heart of the ancient city. Furthermore, the jewel of the Cité well worth a visit is the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, a cathedral dating back to the 11th and 14th centuries. Between the two walls there are also regular medieval jousting displays, which are always mentioned to be quite an entertaining display of horsemanship. 

Even more spectacular than the great walls themselves is the historic fortress, known as the Ville de Carcassonne. This castle is the main attraction of the old city parts of Carcassonne, and was featured in the movie ‘Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves’. It is an extraordinarily beautiful castle, amazingly well preserved, and the centrepiece of medieval Carcassonne. The castle was built in the 12th century, and features a magnificent drawbridge. Guided tours include exploration of the castle and the inner ramparts of the city. A more romantic way to immerse oneself in the history of Old Carcassonne is to take a tour in a horse-drawn carriage. The horses depart from Porte Narbonnaise. Alternatively, a mini-train is available for those who prefer a quicker sightseeing tour. The little train’s journey through the medieval city takes about twenty minutes.

Carcassonne attractions include a number of interesting museums as well. The Museum of Fine Arts displays European paintings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and Memorial House features a permanent exhibition of the works of Joë Bousquet. There is also the Museum of the Middle Ages, with a scale model of the Roman Medieval Walled city, and a wide variety of items from this era, including weapons and costumes. Here one can learn more about the defence techniques that were typically used in medieval castles.  The School Museum at 3 Rue du Plô has various displays of school furniture, documents and other items from the Jules Ferry years, and hosts several activities throughout the year.

In the more modern and expansive Ville Basse area of Carcassonne, visitors will find an excellent selection of shopping opportunities and restaurants. The city is also marked by the River Aude and the Canal du Midi, and most popular are boat cruises along the canal. The Canal du Midi is an 18th century engineering marvel, that was built to link the Atlantic and the Mediterranean for transport purposes, however, today it is mainly used for leisure rather than for business. The Canal runs nearby the main railway station of the city, and from here, cruises of between 90 minutes and two hours can be taken. Along the Canal is a scenic trail as well, which is wonderful for a quiet walk. The trail is referred to as the ‘Promenade du Canal’.

Carcassonne attractions in more detail are available from the main tourist office on the eastern edge of the Bastide St-Louis. The office is open from 09:00 to 18:00, Monday to Saturday, and from 09:00 to 13:00 on Sundays. Information is also available from the tourist desk within the terminal.