Travel through some of France’s most breathtaking scenery and back through time by taking the train to Carcassonne. The medieval city, home to an iconic medieval citadel, is one of southern France’s most enchanting destinations. Carcassonne train station was built in 1857 and is located in the centre of the town. High-speed TGV lines, including services from Lille and Marseille, make the train journey from Toulouse to Carcassonne just 40 minutes long, while Montpellier-Saint-Roch is 1h23mins away. Intercity routes also serve Carcassonne, as well as regional TER trains, which cover the Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions, making getting the train to Carcassonne easy from all over France.
Those travelling by train to Carcassonne find themselves a pleasant 30-minute stroll away from this small city’s centrepiece — its ‘Sleeping Beauty castle’. However, visitors shouldn’t rush to get to this site! Although it is France’s second most-visited site (after the Eiffel Tower), it’s worth spending some time in the streets that lead to it. Walking from Carcassonne train station to its citadel takes visitors past the new town’s central square, full of welcoming street-side cafes and, on some days, a bustling market. Once travellers cross the Aude at Pont Vieux (one of the few remaining medieval arched bridges in France), they have officially stepped back in time! Entering the Cité de Carcassonne through its main gate, Porte Narbonnaise, leads to an unforgettable maze of cobblestone streets and courtyards.
The curious can simply follow their noses for a fascinating tour of yesteryear! Alternatively, a 5-minute stroll takes tourists to the Gothic Basilique Saint-Nazaire, which houses southern France’s largest organ and has beautiful rose windows. Château Comtal, built during the 12th century and a 3-minute walk from the basilica, is the only building that asks an entry fee. Entrance includes access to the city’s ramparts with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside and across to the Pyrenees. If all that works up an appetite, there’s plenty of places to eat within the walls of the Cité de Carcassonne itself, as well as along Rue Trivalle, the street that leads back to Carcassonne train station. Regional dishes include the slow-cooked Cassoulet — a hearty casserole made from beans and duck. The surrounding vineyards of Corbières or the Minervois produce excellent wine to accompany it too!