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How to Book a Hotel in Carcassonne
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Hotels of Carcassonne
A hotel in Carcassonne is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Carcassonne hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Carcassonne are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Carcassonne hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Carcassonne hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Carcassonne have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:
Upscale luxury hotels in Carcassonne
An upscale full service hotel facility in Carcassonne that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Carcassonne hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.
Full service hotels in Carcassonne
Full service Carcassonne hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.
Historic inns and boutique hotels in Carcassonne
Boutique hotels of Carcassonne are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Carcassonne boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Carcassonne may be classified as luxury hotels.
Focused or select service hotels in Carcassonne
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Carcassonne travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Carcassonne focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.
Economy and limited service hotels in Carcassonne
Small to medium-sized Carcassonne hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Carcassonne traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Carcassonne hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.
Guest houses and B&Bs in Carcassonne
A bed and breakfast in Carcassonne is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Carcassonne bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Carcassonne B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.
Hostels in Carcassonne
Carcassonne hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Carcassonne hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Carcassonne
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Carcassonne hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Carcassonne lack an on-site restaurant.
Timeshare and destination clubs in Carcassonne
Carcassonne timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Carcassonne often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Carcassonne on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.
Motels in Carcassonne
A Carcassonne motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Carcassonne for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Carcassonne motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.
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Travelling and vacation in Carcassonne
For other uses, see Carcassonne (disambiguation).
Prefecture and commune
Panorama of the Cité de Carcassonne
Coat of arms
Location within Occitanie region
Coordinates: / 43.21; 2.35 / 43.21; 2.35
Carcassonne-1, 2 and 3
• Mayor (2008–2014)
Jean-Claude Perez (PS)
65.08 km (25.13 sq mi)
730/km (1,900/sq mi)
• Summer (DST)
81–250 m (266–820 ft)
(avg. 111 m or 364 ft)
French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Carcassonne (French: [kaʁ.ka.sɔn]; Occitan: Carcassona[kaɾkaˈsunɔ]; Latin: Carcaso) is a fortified French town in the Aude department, of which it is the prefecture, in the Region of Occitanie.
Inhabited since the Neolithic period, Carcassonne is located in the Aude plain between historic trade routes, linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea and the Massif Central to the Pyrénées. Its strategic importance was quickly recognized by the Romans who occupied its hilltop until the demise of the Western Roman Empire and was later taken over in the fifth century by the Visigoths who founded the city. Its strategic location led successive rulers to expand its fortifications until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.
The city is famous for the Cité de Carcassonne, a medieval fortress restored by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1853 and added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997. Consequently, Carcassonne relies heavily on tourism but also counts manufacture and wine-making as some of its other key economic sectors.
Carcassonne is located in the south of France, about 80 kilometres east from the city of Toulouse. Its strategic location between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea has been known since the neolithic era.
The town's area is about 65 km (25 sq mi), which is significantly larger than the numerous small towns in the Aude department. The rivers Aude, Fresquel and the Canal du Midi flow through the town.
The first signs of settlement in this region have been dated to about 3500 BC, but the hill site of Carsac – a Celtic place-name that has been retained at other sites in the south – became an important trading place in the 6th century BC. The Volcae Tectosages fortified the oppidum.
The folk etymology – involving a châtelaine named Carcas, a ruse ending a siege and the joyous ringing of bells ("Carcas sona") – though memorialized in a neo-Gothic sculpture of Mme. Carcas on a column near the Narbonne Gate, is of modern invention. The name can be derived as an augmentative of the name Carcas.
Carcassonne became strategically identified when Romans fortified the hilltop around 100 BC and eventually made the colonia of Julia Carsaco, later Carcasum (by the process of swapping consonants known as metathesis). The main part of the lower courses of the northern ramparts dates from Gallo-Roman times. In 462 the Romans officially ceded Septimania to the Visigothic king Theodoric II who had held Carcassonne since 453. He built more fortifications at Carcassonne, which was a frontier post on the northern marches; traces of them still stand. Theodoric is thought to have begun the predecessor of the basilica that is now dedicated to Saint Nazaire. In 508 the Visigoths successfully foiled attacks by the Frankish king Clovis. Saracens from Barcelona took Carcassonne in 725, but King Pepin the Short (Pépin le Bref) drove them away in 759-60; though he took most of the south of France, he was unable to penetrate the impregnable fortress of Carcassonne.
A medieval fiefdom, the county of Carcassonne, controlled the city and its environs. It was often united with the County of Razès. The origins of Carcassonne as a county probably lie in local representatives of the Visigoths, but the first count known by name is Bello of the time of Charlemagne. Bello founded a dynasty, the Bellonids, which would rule many honores in Septimania and Catalonia for three centuries.
Cathars being expelled from Carcassonne in 1209
In 1067, Carcassonne became the property of Raimond-Bernard Trencavel, viscount of Albi and Nîmes, through his marriage with Ermengard, sister of the last count of Carcassonne. In the following centuries, the Trencavel family allied in succession either with the counts of Barcelona or of Toulouse. They built the Château Comtal and the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse. In 1096, Pope Urban II blessed the foundation stones of the new cathedral.
Carcassonne became famous for its role in the Albigensian Crusades, when the city was a stronghold of Occitan Cathars. In August 1209 the crusading army of the Papal Legate, Abbot Arnaud Amalric, forced its citizens to surrender. Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was imprisoned whilst negotiating his city's surrender and died in mysterious circumstances three months later in his own dungeon. The people of Carcassonne were allowed to leave - in effect, expelled from their city with nothing more than the shirt on their backs. Simon De Montfort was appointed the new viscount. He added to the fortifications.
In 1240, Trencavel's son tried to reconquer his old domain, but in vain. The city submitted to the rule of the kingdom of France in 1247. Carcassonne became a border fortress between France and the Crown of Aragon under the Treaty of Corbeil (1258). King Louis IX founded the new part of the town across the river. He and his successor Philip III built the outer ramparts. Contemporary opinion still considered the fortress impregnable. During the Hundred Years' War, Edward the Black Prince failed to take the city in 1355, although his troops destroyed the Lower Town.
View of Carcassonne in the late 19th century.
In 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees transferred the border province of Roussillon to France, and Carcassonne's military significance was reduced. Fortifications were abandoned, and the city became mainly an economic centre that concentrated on the woollen textile industry, for which a 1723 source quoted by Fernand Braudel found it "the manufacturing centre of Languedoc". It remained so until the Ottoman market collapsed at the end of the eighteenth century, thereafter reverting to a country town.
Carcassonne: Historical importance
Carcassonne was the first fortress to use hoardings in times of siege. Temporary wooden ramparts would be fitted to the upper walls of the fortress through square holes beneath the rampart itself. It provided protection to defenders on the wall and allowed defenders to go out past the wall to drop projectiles on attackers at the wall beneath.
Carcassonne: Main sights
Carcassonne: The fortified city
Fortified City Wall
Main article: Cité de Carcassonne
The fortified city itself consists essentially of a concentric design of two outer walls with 53 towers and barbicans to prevent attack by siege engines. The castle itself possesses its own drawbridge and ditch leading to a central keep. The walls consist of towers built over quite a long period. One section is Roman and is notably different from the medieval walls with the tell-tale red brick layers and the shallow pitch terracotta tile roofs. One of these towers housed the Catholic Inquisition in the 13th century and is still known as "The Inquisition Tower".
Carcassonne was demilitarised under Napoleon and the Restoration, and the fortified cité of Carcassonne fell into such disrepair that the French government decided that it should be demolished. A decree to that effect that was made official in 1849 caused an uproar. The antiquary and mayor of Carcassonne, Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille, and the writer Prosper Mérimée, the first inspector of ancient monuments, led a campaign to preserve the fortress as a historical monument. Later in the year the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, already at work restoring the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, was commissioned to renovate the place.
In 1853, work began with the west and southwest walls, followed by the towers of the porte Narbonnaise and the principal entrance to the cité. The fortifications were consolidated here and there, but the chief attention was paid to restoring the roofing of the towers and the ramparts, where Viollet-le-Duc ordered the destruction of structures that had encroached against the walls, some of them of considerable age. Viollet-le-Duc left copious notes and drawings on his death in 1879, when his pupil Paul Boeswillwald and, later, the architect Nodet continued the rehabilitation of Carcassonne.
The restoration was strongly criticized during Viollet-le-Duc's lifetime. Fresh from work in the north of France, he made the error of using slates and restoring the roofs as point-free environment. Yet, overall, Viollet-le-Duc's achievement at Carcassonne is agreed to be a work of genius, though not of the strictest authenticity.
Another bridge, Pont Marengo, crosses the Canal du Midi and provides access to the railway station. Lac de la Cavayère has been created as a recreational lake and is about five minutes from the city centre.
The fortified city of Carcassonne and the Pont Vieux crossing the Aude river
Further sights include:
the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse
Church of St. Vincent
Carcassonne has a hot-summer mediterranean climate typical of Southern France, with moderately wet and mild winters coupled with summers averaging above 28 °C (82 °F) during daytime with low rainfall.
Climate data for Carcassonne (1981–2010 averages)
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days
Average snowy days
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: Météo France
Source #2: Infoclimat.fr (humidity and snowy days, 1961–1990)
Ville Basse from the walled city
The newer part (Ville Basse) of the city on the other side of the Aude river (which dates back to the Middle Ages, after the crusades) manufactures shoes, rubber and textiles. It is also the centre of a major AOC wine-growing region. A major part of its income, however, comes from the tourism connected to the fortifications (Cité) and from boat cruising on the Canal du Midi. Carcassonne is also home to the MKE Performing Arts Academy. Carcassonne receives about three million visitors annually.
In the late 1990s Carcassonne airport started taking budget flights to and from European airports and by 2009 had regular flight connections with Porto, Bournemouth, Cork, Dublin, Frankfurt-Hahn, London-Stansted, Liverpool, East Midlands, Glasgow-Prestwick and Charleroi.
The Gare de Carcassonne railway station offers direct connections to Toulouse, Narbonne, Perpignan, Paris, Marseille and several regional destinations. The A61 motorway connects Carcassonne with Toulouse and Narbonne.
École nationale de l'aviation civile
Historically, the language spoken in Carcassonne and throughout Languedoc-Roussillon was not French but Occitan.
Bronze statue of Puig Aubert outside the Stade Albert Domec
In 2016 Carcasonne was the starting point for stage 11 of the 2016 Tour de France, previously it was the starting point for a stage in the 2004 Tour de France and a stage finish in the 2006 Tour de France.
As in the rest of the southwest of France, rugby union is popular in Carcassonne. The city is represented by Union Sportive Carcassonnaise, known locally simply as USC. The club have a proud history, having played in the French Championship Final in 1925, and currently compete in Pro D2, the second tier of French rugby.
Rugby league is also played, by the AS Carcassonne club. They are involved in the Elite One Championship. Puig Aubert is the most notable rugby league player to come from the Carcassonne club. There is a bronze statue of him outside the Stade Albert Domec at which the city's teams in both codes play.
Carcassonne: In culture
The French poet Gustave Nadaud made Carcassonne famous as a city. He wrote a poem about a man who dreamed of seeing but could not see before he died. His poem inspired many others and was translated into English several times. Georges Brassens has sung a musical version of the poem. Lord Dunsany wrote a short story "Carcassonne" (in A Dreamer's Tales) as did William Faulkner.
On 6 March 2000 France issued a stamp commemorating the fortress of Carcassonne.
The history of Carcassonne is re-told in the novels Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel by Kate Mosse.
A board game and a video game version of it are named after this town.
Portions of the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves were shot in and around Carcassonne.
A 1993 album by Stephan Eicher was named Carcassonne.
In the one-man show Sea Wall, starring Andrew Scott, Carcassonne is mentioned frequently as a setting.
Paul Lacombe, composer, 1837
Théophile Barrau, sculptor, 1848
Paul Sabatier, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1854
Gilbert Benausse, rugby league footballer, 1932
Michael Martchenko, illustrator, 1942
Maurice Sarrail, General of Division during the First World War, 1856
David Ferriol, rugby league player, 1979
Olivia Ruiz, pop singer, 1980
Fabrice Estebanez, rugby union player, 1981
Henry d'Estienne, Painter
Carcassonne: International relations
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in France
Carcassonne: Twin towns – sister cities
Carcassonne is twinned with:
"Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne". UNESCO. Accessed 13 February 2014.
Fernand Braudel, The Wheels of Commerce 1982, vol. II of Civilization and Capitalism, Brian Anderson.