Carcassonne is actually 2 towns. I remember when I first arrived in the region and a friend suggested we meet for a coffee in the main square in Carcassonne. So I headed for the medieval town perched on the hill and walked into what seemed like the main square which is lined with restaurants and cafes. I chose a pretty spot to sit and order my coffee and waited for my friend to arrive. After 10 minutes she called me and asked where I was? I gave her the name of the cafe and she said there is no such cafe in the main square in Carcassonne, was I sure I was in place Carnot? Sure enough I was in the wrong place. I was in La Cité and she was in the bastide town below which all
locals call Carcassonne.
So to get your bearings; La Cité is the walled medieval fortified town that sits majestically on the hill on the banks of the Aude river. Directly below is the bas town, a cluster of houses, little chapels, cafes and restaurants that ooze towards Le Pont Vieux, the 12th century bridge that crosses the river Aude and takes you into Bastide Saint-Louis. This so called modern town was built during the reign of King Louis the sun King and was built as all bastide towns were, in a grid system and at the heart of it is place Carnot, the main square.
So what’s to see in these 3 distinctly different parts of Carcassonne, well let’s start with La Cité and work our way down the hill.