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carcassonne or not: that is the question

if you were just going to do the evening walkaround, as rick suggests, and a three-hour morning, and if you knew it was not an out-of-the-way stop on a road trip, would you visit carcassonne? or just keep on goin'?

Posted by
655 posts

Hard to answer without knowing what your alternatives are. We went to Carcassonne but did not go to Barcellona. It was a mistake.

Posted by
212 posts

Alternatives are all behind or ahead of us in France. One alternative would be to spend that extra afternoon and the next morning back where we came from in the Dordogne (we have just two days there) or where we're headed, near Arles, where we also have less time than we could use.

Posted by
1878 posts

I would definitely stop in Carcassonne. To make the most of your short visit, stay right in La Cite. We stayed at the Best Western Hotel le Donjon. Go to L'Auberge du Grand Puits for a great, inexpensive dinner ... the best cassoulet we found in southern France. It will be a memorable evening and you'll get some fabulous photos.

Posted by
1986 posts

Definitely stop- even go out of our way to do it

Posted by
2060 posts

Nancy, with your follow-up comments of "just having 2 days in Dordogne" and "near Arles, where we also have less time than we could use", I'd say, definitely, pass up Carcassonne! Yes, I know it's cruel but it sounds like you feel short-changed in other areas, so why not enjoy those areas more!

Posted by
963 posts

IF it's on your way, pull over and walk around two or three hours, then keep going. I liked it but didn't feel it was worth an overnight- not as pretty as either the Dordogne or Provence, but I would go back. If you're there in the summer, you'll have plenty of daylight.

Posted by
5392 posts

Do it. You won't regret it. It's an amazing place - and if you go late, stay overnight, and depart before the crowds come back, it'll be great.

Posted by
1525 posts

From 6PM to an hour after sunset, it's a fantastic and memorable place to roam - definitely a place you will remember and enjoy the photos of. No reason not to stay the night within the walls, too, but leave first thing in the morning and move on to your next destination.

Posted by
1878 posts

Sounds like the trip that we did in 2003.. we also had two nights in Sarlat, two nights in Arles, an it was not enough. We stopped on the way at Carcassonne and did not regret it. I liked walking the ramparts after dark (but be careful, I sprained my ankle). Also took the tour the next morning. Such a cool stop - do it!

Posted by
212 posts

Thank you all. Will stop at end of travel day, enjoy the evening, stay inside the walls, take a quick tour if available in the morning, and head out.

Posted by
31 posts

I hope it's OK to jump into this discussion with an additional question. We are traveling by train from Paris to Arles and would like to stop in Carcassonne for 4-5 hours on route. RS says there is no baggage storage at the train station. Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas for what to do with bags while we we visit La Cite? Many thanks, Pam

Posted by
4125 posts

Pamela: Carcasonne is not on the main route to Arles. You would be making a big detour, comparable to stopping in Montreal on the way from Niagara Falls to Boston.

Posted by
9110 posts

What Adam said. I'm not a train guy, but I'd bet that to get from Paris to Carcassonne you'd have to go through Nimes or Avignon, both of which are within spitting distance of Arles. By road, it's bound to be over a couple hundred miles out of the way.

Posted by
31 posts

We could possibly leave Paris a day early if it's really worth getting to Carcassonne. From most of the posts, it seems that it is a great site to visit. We have only 4 nights in Arles and there is so much to see and do in Arles, Nimes, Camargue and the Cotes du Rhone villages so a side trip from there wouldn't seem possible. Can you think of a sensible way to see Carcassone given our itinarary or do you think we should just skip it and hope for a return visit? (Lots to do in Paris as well) I know train travel limits us in some ways but we find it less stressful overall. Thanks, Pam

Posted by
3551 posts

Yes for sure the ramparts are amazing. To see a medieval fortress still intact is a miracle. While I love the walls and the lights at night the inside of the fortress is mostly full of tacky stores and eateries. I would have really like at hot air ballon over this incredible sight. hope this helps alittle.

Posted by
83 posts

We just kept on goin' in years past . June '10: we stopped. Stayed one night near the walls at Hotel Espace Cite (see RS). Won't impress the Joneses but fine for us. EZ parking and short walk to the walls. Nice supper at an outdoor spot within the walls. Liked Carcassonne. The Euro families enjoy these medieval spots. Roots. This adds to the fun for we European-American visitors.

Posted by
83 posts

We traveled for 32 days in France during October and November. I would say one of our favorite places was Carcassone. Fun to walk around during the day and absolutely wonderful at night. Just follow Rick's walking tour--we did.

Posted by
4125 posts

Pamela, I think you should as you suggest save Carcassonne for another trip, perhaps combining it with the Dordogne and Lot valleys and with French Catalonia. I liked Carcassonne very much, but it is not in my view in the same class as the Roman antiquities in Provence, for instance. Many people here opine with some justification that it is overrated. So do not kick yourself if you can't do it. If you must visit this trip - and only you can decide this - I suppose the way would be to carve two days out of your itinerary, travel there from Provence either by car or train, spend an evening and a morning, and then continue on to Toulouse, from where you would fly home.

Posted by
9110 posts

"To see a medieval fortress still intact is a miracle" What you see is not exactly intact medieval stuff. The place went to pot after 1650 and restoration began about two hundred years later.

Posted by
8293 posts

Thanks, Ed, for bringing that up. The restoration has been criticized for for the last 100 years as not being historically accurate, just an architect's fanciful idea of what he thought it should look like, Violet le Duc being the culprit.

Posted by
249 posts

Pamela, I vote with Adam on saving it for your next trip. There's enough in Provence to cover your 4 days easily, I believe. Mike

Posted by
31 posts

thanks to all. I revisited my Paris itinerary last night and really don't have enough time to do all we want to do in Paris in 8 days. We plan to go to Antibes for 4 nights after leaving Arles and fly out of Nice so there doesn't seem to be a sensible way to get to Carcassonne in our limited time frame. So many places, so little time - I guess this is why my retired friends look so happy!!!! Pam