The Fortress city of Carcassonne is like something right out of a fairy tale, and it is easy to be impressed. The fortress was built in several stages from about year 200, but most of the current structure is from year 1200 – and 1300’s. In year 1849 it was decided to demolish the whole fortress, after it had lapsed over the years. Fortunately someone stopped the demolition, and a large-scale restoration was started.
Today it is a vibrant medieval city within the walls, with small shops and restaurants. This part of the city they call Cité de Carcassonne. On the other side of the river lays the newer part of town: Ville Basse. This is a quite big town (about 45,000 inhabitants).
Festival de Carcassonne
Every year throughout most of the summer, the Festival de Carcassonne, with a number of elements takes place in Carcassonne. See the official site for more information: http://www.festivaldecarcassonne.fr/festival_EN.nsf/vuetitre/festivaldecarcassonne
There is no lack of restaurants inside the walled city. The quality of these restaurants are unfortunately somewhat variable, as one might expect in such areas. But the surroundings are good and there are exceptions. In the Ville Basse you generally get more for your money, so that might be an option.
For a nice view of the castle you can dine at Le Quai, located along the river at the Ville Basse side of the Old Town Bridge .
The local specialty is Cassoulet, a stew of meat and beans, and is available in most restaurants in Carcassonne. This can be very good, but it’s a pretty heavy dish to eat in the heat.
There are some hotels in the fortress of different quality. Common to them is that they are quite expensive for what you get, but off season you might be lucky. It may be a good option to stay in the Ville Basse instead.
We can recommend the Hotel du Pont Vieux, just outside the city walls, between the fortress and the Ville Basse. It is a charming small hotel.
Carcassonne is located along the main road between Narbonne and Toulouse and the roads are good. There is a train line along the same route. The city also has its own airport where it might be possible to get domestic flights.