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The 7 Best Things You NEED to Do in Carcassonne, France

Carcassonne, located in southern France, is a historic fortified city renowned for its medieval architecture. It boasts an impressive double-walled citadel, complete with towers and a drawbridge. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts visitors with its charming cobblestone streets, picturesque views, and rich cultural heritage. Keep reading for the best things to do in Carcassonne, France.

Carcassonne Best Things to Do:

1. Visit Carcassonne Medieval Cité

Top things to do Carcassonne – explore the medieval city.

The Carcassonne Medieval Cité is a fortified city located in Carcassonne, France.

It is one of the most well-preserved and largest medieval citadels in Europe. The Cité features a double-walled structure with 52 towers, a drawbridge, and a moat.

Within its walls, visitors can explore narrow streets, ancient buildings, and historical sites such as the Château Comtal, a medieval castle within the citadel.

When you visit Carcassonne medieval city, you should definitely do an Audio Tour of the Castle & Ramparts.

The self-guided tour only costs around €11 per person and tells you so many interesting facts about the history of the medieval fortification.

There are also lots of restaurants and bars within the medieval city, as well as gift shops and artisan food stalls.

If you’re planning a trip to the Occitanie Region, you should try to come in July. The 14th July Carcassonne firework display is a spectacular event over the medieval city and definitely one of the 10 best things to do in France.

2. Explore Carcassonne’s New Town

Carcassonne’s new town, also known as Bastide Saint-Louis, is a vibrant and modern part of the city located outside the walls of the medieval Cité.

It was established in the 13th century and designed in a grid pattern, typical of many bastide towns of that era.

The new town offers a contrast to the medieval charm of the Cité and provides visitors and residents with a lively urban atmosphere.

Wondering what to see in Carcassonne in a day? It’s more than possible to explore both the old city and the new town in one day due to its small size.

The new town is also great for shopping, with loads of clothing boutiques and cute homeware stores.

Must-Visit Attractions in Carcassonne New Town:

  • Saint-Michel Cathedral
  • Place Carnot
  • Saint-Vincent Tower
  • Square Gambetta
  • Portail des Jacobins

3. Walk Over the Pont Vieux

Carcassonne things to do for history lovers – walk over the remarkable ancient bridge.

In Carcassonne, France, there is a famous bridge called the Pont Vieux, which translates to “Old Bridge.”

It is a stone bridge that spans the Aude River and connects the modern city to the medieval Cité.

The Pont Vieux dates back to the 14th century and is a remarkable architectural structure with multiple arches.

Today, the Pont Vieux stands as a symbol of the city’s rich heritage and is a picturesque spot for visitors to enjoy scenic views of the surrounding area.

Be sure to walk over the historic Pont Vieux at night, with the medieval cité lit up in the background.

4. Go Swimming at Carcassonne Beach


Summer in inland France? I can guarantee you’ll find some amazing swimming lakes near your destination! For your next trip to France, Google ‘swimming lakes near X’ and you’ll be able to find some beautiful swimming spots with sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Lots of them have lifeguards too! This is Carcassonne Plage or Lac de la Cavayère, a stunning swimming lake just 10 minutes’ drive from the medieval city. There’s also an aqua park, pedalo hire and stunning hiking trails. 📍Lac de la Cavayère, Carcassonne, France #lakeswimming #francetourisme #carcassonne #southoffrance

♬ (It Goes Like) Nanana – Edit – Peggy Gou

Wondering what to do in Carcassonne on a hot summer’s day?

One of the fun facts about Carcassonne is that it has a beautiful inland beach!

Plage de Carcassonne is a sandy beach located on the shores of Lac de la Cavayère.

It offers a scenic setting with crystal-clear waters, recreational activities such as swimming and water sports, and amenities like sun loungers and restaurants.

The swimming lake is about a 10 minute drive from Carcassonne centre, or you can get the Line 2 public bus for just €1 each way.

The lake has lifeguards and an aquapark with inflatables and slides, as well as beautiful hiking trails.

On a summer’s day in the South of France, there’s no better way to escape the heat. But, you can consider for convenient car rental services to enhance your travel experience.

5. Enjoy a Wine Tasting of Local French Wines

Epic things to do in Carcassonne France – visit a vineyard and try their wine.

Wine making in Occitanie, France, boasts a long and esteemed tradition.

The region’s diverse terroirs and Mediterranean climate contribute to producing a wide range of high-quality wines, including renowned varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Grenache.

In Carcassonne you can have a unique wine tasting experience at a wine cave in the old town.

Alternatively, if you want to visit a vineyard in the French countryside you can book a winery visit with food and wine.

For things to do in and around Carcassonne for wine lovers, you can’t miss local award-winning winery O’Vineyards.

It’s the best winery to visit in the area, offering vineyard tours, wine tastings and dining experiences amongst the vines.

6. Take a Day Trip to Toulouse, Montpellier or Narbonne

Train travel from Carcassonne offers convenient connections to major French cities like Toulouse, Montpellier, even Bordeaux and Barcelona!

Carcassonne is a small city, so if you’re visiting for a couple of days I can highly recommend doing a day trip on the train to explore another part of the region.

The best day trips from Carcassonne by train include Toulouse, with a journey time of 45 minutes.

Alternatively, you could visit the picturesque city of Montpellier or head towards Narbonne and visit the beach to escape the summer heat.

When considering things to do in France outside of Paris, Toulouse is a fantastic choice with amazing food, culture and sights (but less tourists!).

7. Try Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a hearty French dish originating from the region of Occitanie.

It features slow-cooked white beans, sausages, and meat (often duck or pork), creating a flavorful and comforting one-pot meal.

The best places to try Cassoulet are Restaurant Le Chaudron in the old town or Brasserie de la Comédie in the new town.

These are two of the best restaurants in Carcassonne.

I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best things to do in Carcassonne (France), don’t miss my guide to the best things to do in Bordeaux France here!

Did you know there is a famous board game based on the medieval city of Carcassonne? You can buy the Carcassonne 20th Anniversary board game on Amazon here!