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The ancient city of Carcassonne is famed for the mammoth and monumental citadel that dominates the verdant hilltop. As France’s second most visited tourist attraction, this colossal structure allures millions of visitors with its talismanic turrets and unspoiled image of medieval majesty. Although many travellers only venture as far as the stout stone walls of the citadel, Carcassonne’s new town offers a modern melange of sleepy squares, quaint cafes and unappreciated architectural gems. Satisfy historical cravings without forgetting to explore the Carcassonne’s shy and secretive spots in order to maximise your time in this extraordinary city.
The evocative fortress of La Cite is deservedly Carcassonne’s most alluring attraction; 52 stone towers are topped with triangular roves and majestic main gateway grants entry to travellers wishing to explore the medieval tangle of cobbled lanes and quaint courtyards within. Escape the touristic hordes by ducking into Les Lices, passageways that run for 1kn around the castles exterior. Alternative sights within the citadel also include the beautiful Basilique St. Nazaire, an ethereal ecclesiastical structure famed for its Gothic grandeur and prismatic rose windows.
Enjoy an alternative cultural pursuit in Carcassonne with a visit to the New Town’s melange of the modern and the medieval; boasting a beautiful location upon the banks of the River Aude, the Bastide St-Louis Neighbourhood is decorated with stunning structures, most notable of which is the glorious covered market that sells an appetising array of traditional treats.
Boasting a prime location beside the imposing citadel, the tasty and traditional L’Escargot Restaurantserves fantastic French fare in a comfortable and casual atmosphere. Rustic décor and creative reworking of regional cuisine make this restaurant a sought after dining venue; sample tantalising tapas and of course the restaurants eponymous dish of snails while enjoying fine wines from the surrounding vineyards. (7 Rue Viollet le Duc, Carcassonne)