Before this trip, the only medieval experience I had ever had was the infamous Orlando dinner show, Medieval Times, when I was a teen. When you grow up in America, nothing is remotely close to being as old as the walled city of Carcassonne, so part time actors and trained horses try to do their best campy portrayal. But here, we were treated to the real deal.
It’s just an hour by train from Toulouse, making it an easy day trip but we were traveling to Barcelona with Tara after wards so we stayed a night. The modern city surrounding the castle is very compact, so we were able to walk to our airbnb from the train station.
I chose this airbnb because the host said it came with pets! A cat and a rabbit. Upon arrival, we learned that the rabbit had reached an untimely end, but the cat was still around. She was as sweet as she was vocal.
We immediately went out for lunch and to head to the castle. Since the city is quite small, it’s very easy to get around by just walking. We found a sidewalk cafe and enjoyed a classic southern France lunch.
From there, we crossed a footbridge on the canal and climbed the hilly streets up to the entrance of the castle.
A settlement has existed on this hill since pre-Roman times and over the centuries was fortified and in more recent times has been under extensive conservation. The outer ring of the medieval city is free to enter, but you can pay a nominal fee to enter the inner ramparts, known as Château Comtal.
When you enter the first wall, there are winding alleyways filled with tourist shops and cafes. I’ve heard it gets extremely crowded during the summer. The real medieval-ly stuff starts when you enter the inner ramparts, so I highly recommend that.
There’s plenty to explore within the walled city, including a Gothic cathedral with some of the most stained glass I’ve ever seen. We filled the whole day with sightseeing and then went out for dinner. The weather in April was perfect and I’ve raved about this trip to so many people since then.
If you’re ever near Toulouse, don’t miss Carcassonne!