Visit Carcassonne

Set on the Aude Plain, Carcassonne is the prefectural town of the Aude department and has a population of about 46,000. It's an ideal base for exploring this region of France, with excellent travel links and plenty to do within the town and the surrounding area.

Carcassonne is best known for its medieval fortress, La Cité de Carcassonne, which served as an important frontier post from around 100 BC when the Romans first fortified the area, until 1659 when the province of Roussillon was transferred to France.

Following its redundancy for military purposes, the fortress fell into disrepair to the extent that, in 1849, the government decided it should be demolished. A campaign for its preservation as an historical monument was launched, and from 1853 work commenced on its renovation, overseen by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. La Cité de Carcassonne became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, and is one of France's most popular attractions.

To the east of La Cité, on the other side of the Aude river, is the Ville Basse. The centre of the town, the Bastide Saint Louis, has at its heart Place Canot, a large square surrounded by pavement cafés.

The Canal du Midi passes through the town. Once an important route for freight between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, it is now used by pleasure boaters.