Carcassonne, France in the Languedoc Region (South of France)

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We spent New Year’s Eve
In Carcassonne, France!


Every book we read about the South of France suggested or insisted that Carcassonne Castle was not to be missed and they were all exceedingly right. We reluctantly left Albi a couple of days before the new year was to begin and decided to spend New Year’s Eve in Carcassonne.

Where to Stay in Carcassonne

carcassonne castle carcassonne, france peace love travel light

It was too late to get a room inside the castle walls where there are several hotels, but we got one just outside the walls  so it was easy to walk up to the fortress/citadel/castle, whatever you want to call it. It’s massive, a whole town in and of itself, and a total wonderland if you are into medieval culture. If you can, I do recommend booking inside the castle and if we go back we will do that. At any rate, be sure to stay near the castle instead of down the hill in the town. If you stay down in the town you would need to get a bus or taxi up to the castle. I use to book all my hotels. 

Here it is from the air. I got this from a postcard. It was too cold to walk up to the hills west of there to capture this scene.

It’s way up on a hillside, so it was protected from marauding soldiers in medieval times, but it did fall to the Crusaders in the 12th century when they drove out the Cathars. (a very sad time in European history)

The space between the 2 sets of outer walls used to be filled with water making a moat, and you enter through the main gate which is really a draw bridge. So cool!

Carcassonne France Medieval Castle
Carcassonne, France Medieval Castle

I think it’s exactly as it always was;  just the shops are a little more modern. There are restaurants galore and we ate there for every meal in different ones. There are darling shops selling everything you could want or need. It’s behind castle walls, which was fortified and surrounded by the moat.

Maybe you can tell that the streets are very narrow, barely able to fit a car on, but some of the shopkeepers do drive through there to take their wares in for selling. When they do everyone scatters inside shops to get out of their way as there is no extra room!

If it were not so cold we would have spent all day and night there, but it was -17 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill factor or -27 Celsius if you use that thermometer. It was bone chilling cold! We kept having to go back to our hotel room to warm up every few hours. But that didn’t keep us from loving it!

This is another postcard view. It was the middle of Winter when we were there, so not very much Green on the hills.

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Carcassonne Castle, Carcassonne, France

 It was like stepping back in time. Most of the shopkeepers wore period clothing too, so it was an all day costume party, and it was New Year’s so everyone was in a great mood. And right at the edge of it we were in for a surprise, as it has a beautiful cathedral, complete with wonderful stained glass.

I almost didn’t take photos those couple of days because my hands were freezing when I would try to use my camera, but I had to take photos of the cathedral!

Carcassonne Cathedral
Carcassonne, France

Here’s one of the magnificent round windows in the Carcassonne cathedral! We were so mesmerized by the stained glass there, as it was completely unexpected that we would find such a beautiful cathedral in such an old city. It dates from before the Crusades! But that’s the norm in Europe anyway. Ancient churches with incredible architecture and stained glass. Our minds were blown!

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Carcassonne France Cathedral Rose Window

Photo © Heather Burns, 2015. Please do not copy.
Here’s another one:

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Carcassonne France Stained Glass Window

Photo © Heather Burns, 2015. Please do not copy.
Here’s the set of stained glass windows around the main altar:

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Stained Glass at Carcassonne Cathedral

Photo © Heather Burns, 2015. Please do not copy.

If you love photos of stained glass, this book has stunning ones of many of the cathedrals in Europe with incredible stained glass.

stained glass carcassonne france

Here’s an Angel in the sanctuary:

Angel, Carcassone Cathedral
Carcassonne Cathedral

Photo © Heather Burns, 2015. Please do not copy.

Where to Eat in Carcassonne

On New Year’s Eve we spent the day wandering inside the castle walls, and had dinner with a British couple we met. One thing we really like about traveling in Europe is the camaraderie of travelers everywhere. On the trains, in restaurants, even on the street, fellow travelers are kind and helpful and share stories and tips. We met so many wonderful people while traveling! I would definitely say to plan on eating inside the castle in one of their many cute restaurants, both for the atmosphere, and for the experience of eating in a castle! 

Later they had massive fireworks so we went a little down the hill to capture this scene:

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Carcassonne Fireworks

You can see that the castle sits way up on the hill! Easy for them to see anyone approaching from miles away. This was a spectacular way for us to ring in the New Year, don’t you think?

If you go to France, don’t miss Carcassonne Castle!