Upon entering the city through one of the city gates beneath the towering ramparts you'll be transported into medieval times. Carcassonne is one the best preserved medieval towns in existence. You'll find beautifully designed concentric walls, a drawbridge, 53 towers and barbicans used to defend against siege. Inside the town walls visitors will find souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants. La Cite, as the old walled town is known, is one of the Languedoc region's biggest tourist attractions as it draws in over 4 million visitors each year.
Perched on top of a hill this strategic position has been used as a defensive fortification for nigh on 2000 years - by the Gauls, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, Franks and Carthars, to name a few. Settlements here date back to 500 BC when the Celtic Gauls first built a fort on the hill. It remained this way until 100 BC when the Romans conquered the area and constructed a new stronger fort, some of which still remains to be seen today. Following the demise of the Roman Empire the Visigoths conquered the area in 453 AD. The site changed hands a few times and then eventually was gifted to the Count of Toulouse in 1000 AD. These Counts then upgraded the fortress in 1167 AD adding the inner castle. At the time the counts were more powerful than the French Kings and paid little to no mind to their orders until 1206 AD when the city was taken by the French crown. From then on Carcassonne was a hugely important defensive position near the bordering lands of Spain.
La Cite is largely free to roam around and explore but for a small fee you can walk along the ramparts and also have access to various rooms inside the Chateau Comtal, a keep built for the Viscounts of Carcassonne during the 12th century. From the top of the wall the views are simply stunning. There are jousting exhibitions that take place in the city during the peak months which are well worth your time. For a small fee you can witness and age old sport which exhibits entertaining displays of horsemanship and combative competition.
Exploring the surrounding countryside is highly recommended as you'll find truly majestic locations like no other. If you’ve rented a car you'll have the absolute freedom to explore off the beaten track that the majority of tour buses don’t travel along. In the hills you'll find beautiful quaint villages that each offer a unique experience.
You'll find a variety of cafes and restaurants located in Carcassonne that are sure to delight any hungry visitors. There’s also a vast range of bars and wine cellars where you can sample the local produce. The area has a lot of souvenir shops where you’ll find lovely replicas of nearly everything you’ve seen around Carcassonne.
Flying into Carcassonne and hiring a car is a great way to explore the southern France. From Carcassonne you can access Toulouse (under an hour away), Marseille (an hour and a half away), Perpignan (an hour away), and further afield. Those on ski holidays can hire a car and travel to a variety of ski resorts located in southern France, Spain, and Andorra, all with a few hours.
Europcar Carcassonne Airport allows you the freedom and flexibility to explore the majesty of La Cité, travel through scenic countryside, and even tour the entirety of southern France. Our location can cater to leisure customers and business customers, availing of the flexible short, medium and long term business fleet management service offered by Europcar and customers renting a van.