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Carcassonne has been influenced by over 2,000 years of conquests, crusades, and the prosperous period of Catharism’s religion. Before its restoration, the Cité was an abandoned place in an outlying area in a town made wealthy by the wine trade and the clothes manufacturing industry. Today, Carcassonne offers a unique historical and architectural asset. In the absence of any heavy industry, tourism is undoubtedly the city’s strength both because of its geographic position and its exceptional heritage. The medieval walled town, the “Cité,” lies on the right bank of river Aude, and is still home to a population of around 120, with a large number of shops and craftsmen. On the left bank, the modern city Bastide Saint Louis has kept its historical roots. You will be amazed by its outstanding variety of architectural styles, including buildings dating from the 14th to the 18th century, such as the Saint Michel Cathedral.
The mix of modernity and historical wealth offer a very rich cultural life. Within a unique scenery and authenticity, the city has managed to provide all amenities for both tourists and business travellers. If you have time, the whole region has much more to show, like going on a “péniche” (or barge) on Canal du Midi or explore the huge vineyards. A closer look at the medieval fortress is of course something that should not be missed as well as the gothic-styled Saint-Michel Cathedral or why not see a concert outdoor at the Théâtre Jean Deschamps? You will for sure find plenty of exciting sites to explore when travelling to this historical and cultural city.
The Aude region offers an incredible variety of wines to be accompanied by special traditional dishes. Traditional local food is usually heavy, such as the Cassoulet, the famous specialty – a mixture of haricots and duck and pork. There are over fifty restaurants within the Cité walls, with great views all around. Those who love Mediterranean food will also find heaps of everything to fulfil their appetite. Expect great food!
The coffee culture in France is pretty impressive, most people start their day with an espresso shot and finish their lunch with a coffee. They also indulge in various types of coffee during the day. Of course, Carcassonne is no exception and you can find a large number of brasseries and coffee shops spread out all over town.
Carcassonne at night is simply magical, the walls and monuments are highlighted with golden lights. On your way to a bar or a discotheque, walking through this open-air museum is something you won’t forget. Carcassonne is a small city, but as one of the top French tourism destinations, there is a wide range of trendy places to sample. Many people start the evening with an aperitif after a long day of visiting the medieval sites, and then go on to some great nightspots. Latino bars and clubs are very popular.
Although Carcassonne is not a shopping destination, the city do offers some unique items to bring back home. Antiques, books, souvenirs, food and wines are the most popular items for travellers to buy when here. Carcassonne has two distinct shopping areas, the modern lower city, Bastide Saint Louis, with a vast array of retailers and bookshops and then there is the walled Cité for more authentic shops and where many of the shops are very much aimed at tourists. There are many small shops and stalls to explore with a large variety of souvenirs as well as carefully crafted items and art in the citadel When here, you should not miss out the markets where to explore fresh produce and feel the Mediterranean ambience, it is for sure a true pleasure for all of your senses. The covered food market, Les Halles is a good example where to stroll around an explore the food culture in Carcassonne. Due to the location, in a rich wine-growing region, you will find plenty of shops along the narrow streets that offers a great selection of local and regional wines. You will for sure find some favourites to bring back home.
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