Exploring the Medieval City of Carcassonne

Programs for this blog post

French Language & Culture

Authored By:

Christine Yardley

During the second weekend of the French Language & Culture program in Toulouse, the students participated in two different trips. One group visited Domaine du Thoré, where they experienced bread making, crafts, hikes, and more. The other group visited the UNESCO World Heritage city of Carcassonne, which is situated near the Pyrenees mountain range between Toulouse and the Mediterranean Sea.

La Cité Carcassonne
Danny van Leeuwen, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

With its massive defenses encircling the castle and the surrounding buildings including the Gothic basilica Saint Nazaire, Carcassonne is an incredible medieval fortified town. Carcassonne has 3 kilometers of ramparts, 52 towers, 1000 years of military architecture and 2500 years of history. Today Carcassonne is a major tourist attraction with many shops and restaurants as well as 50 permanent residences within the walled city, and it receives 4 million visitors each year .

Touring La Cité

From the moment we arrived, the students were amazed at the stunning views of the walled city as well as the charming views of the town below. The guided tour of La Cité of Carcassonne allowed us to walk past the fortifications, where we learned about the construction of the walls and towers. Then we entered the city through one of the four doors, learned about the defenses, building structures, and the beautiful basilica. After free time for lunch and exploring, the group visited Le Château Comtal, which included walking along the ramparts, a museum with artifacts dating back to the 3rd century AD, and even more incredible views of the towers, walls, and the town below.

Walking along the forti
Carcassonne ramparts and town

Since I first learned that we were visiting Carcassonne, I have been so excited because Carcassonne is a board game that my family has played for years. Published in 2000, the award-winning board game has sold over 12 million copies and has been translated into 22 languages. Inside the shops, there were many Carcassonne games, and I couldn’t resist purchasing one. I look forward to sharing the game with the students during free time on next weekend’s excursion to Domaine du Thoré, and I hope that the beauty and history of Carcassonne will stay with the students for many years.

Carcassone games
The shops sell many versions of the game. 
Carcassonne game in Carcassonne
The original Carcassonne game in Carcassonne      @vincent.photographie