Postcard from Carcassonne

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Today we’re in Carcassonne, a beautiful, fortified, hilltop city in the Aude in the Occitanie region, formefly known as Languedoc. Carcassonne is the capital of Aude and throughout history has held an important strategic position as well as being a trading post. Split into the “old” and “new” parts of the city, which are separated by the River Aude and linked by the Pont Vieux, Carcassonne is easily accessible from the UK, thanks to several Ryanair Flight options.

Best known for the Cité de Carcassonne, the UNESCO designated fortress which draws tourists from near and far, means tourism is one of Carcassonne’s biggest earners. In fact the city is the second most visited place in France after the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but this city is no one trick pony. It also profits from manufacturing and the wine industry, making it a reasonably wealthy city, albeit with a relatively modest population of only around 50,000. What this means is that for anyone seeking a new life in France, Carcassonne has much to offer.

From a leisure point of view, there’s a lovely leisure lake that’s just five minutes from the city centre; it’s called the Lac de la Cavayere. Recreational lakes are big news in France and are great no matter whether you have kids or not. The lakeside beaches here are perfect for catching a few rays or relaxing while the kids swim in the supervised swimming area. There are good facilities and tons of activities in season and even out of season it’s a great place to head on a sunny day for a picnic.

When it comes to the city itself, you’ll be bowled over by how stunning it is and how small it feels. Even though Carcassonne is officially classed as a city, it feels more like a town if truth be known. With the famous Canal du Midi running along the north west side of the city, visiting this city as part of a longer canal tour is the perfect way to do it.

While not the place to head if you’re looking to shop ‘til you drop (the shops in Carcassonne aren’t all that remarkable), the markets are busy, buzzing and colourful. Taking place in Place Carnot on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, this is a great way of stocking up on fresh produce for the day or for the week ahead. Thereafter there are plenty of great restaurants and for our evening meal we chose L’Escargot. L’Escargot is an unassuming restaurant but a popular one nonetheless. Seriously relaxed and atmospheric, we selected a range of tapas and a light coloured rosé wine, which was memorable to say the least.

When it comes to places to visit, as you can imagine, a city with such historic significance has its fair share. Here are just a few of the places that are well worth putting on your list: The Museum of Fine Arts. This museum boasts an impressive, permanent display of French and Dutch paintings from the 17th through to the 19th centuries. Hôtel de Rolland, which is now the town hall, is arguably one of the finest 18th century buildings in the city and it’s well worth popping inside to take a look at its inner courtyard. Thereafter you’ve got Porte des Jacobins, Cathedral de Saint-Michel, the Maison du Sénéchal and of course the chance of a canal cruise…the list goes on. That said; if you’re looking to be occupied throughout your visit, then Carcassonne will probably take a couple of days.

While we had a whistle-stop tour of Carcassonne, this whole area is a great place from which to either start a new life or to invest in a holiday home. If you fancy a new life in or near Carcassonne, or if you’d like to establish a base there, here is our portfolio of houses for sale in the Aude.


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