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Aude in southern France: Carcassonne, Narbonne and our tips

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Bonjour, la France! The idea of ​​a road trip through southern France has been buzzing in our heads for years. Thanks to our collaboration with Atout France (the French National Tourist Board), the plans have finally become a reality. For two weeks we explored the south of France. Our trip started with our days in the Aude department.

In this blog article we will tell you what awaits you on a holiday in the Aude region and which sights you should not miss. Another small tip: Be sure to read to the end of the article, because that’s where we also reveal our personal hotel tip. In Narbonne we were allowed to stay in one of the most beautiful accommodations of our whole trip to France. Great recommendation!

1. The Aude department in southern France The Aude department is located south-east of Toulouse in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. The best-known place in terms of tourism is clearly the medieval fortified city of Carcassonne. Next to it is the pretty town of Narbonne and the nearby coast In our opinion also definitely worth a stop.

On our road trip through France we stayed for two nights in the Aude , which we both spent in Narbonne. In our opinion, this is also the absolute minimum to see the most important places (Carcassonne, Narbonne, coast). But of course, as always, the more time, the better. Then you can also pay a visit to Lagrasse, for example. Located between Carcassonne and Narbonne, Lagrasse is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France.

2. Carcassonne: Medieval Fortified City The world-famous old town of Carcassonne is rightly a magnet for tourists and the main attraction of the Aude region. The old town – called “La Cité” – is enthroned on a hill. With the total 35 (!) Watchtowers and the fortress wall make Carcassonne a great photo motif from afar, but of course you shouldn’t miss a walk through the alleys of the old town either.

You can enter a large part of the old town, which lies within the castle walls, free of charge and at any time. There you will find narrow streets, lots of souvenir shops and some (of course quite touristy) restaurants. In order to visit the heart of the Cité – namely the castle (“Château et remparts de la cité de Carcassonne”) – you have to stick to their opening times. During the tour (either free or with a guide) you can, among other things, take a look at the premises and walk on the fortress walls. You should allow at least an hour for this.

The fortifications of Carcassonne are the largest in France and UNESCO World Heritage Site – that probably explains the comparatively quite large number of visitors. But don’t worry: you can always find a nice spot from which to take in the sights of the city.

Information on visiting the Cité of Carcassonne Castle opening hours: from April to September from 10 until 18: 18 Watch; from October to March from 9: 20 until 17 o’clock (Opening hours only apply to the castle, the rest of Carcassonne is round Accessible 24/7.)
Prices: 9 euros (self-guided tour with leaflet; the rest of Carcassonne is freely accessible)
Parking: e.g. in the car park opposite Porte Narbonnaise (subject to charge)

You can buy your ticket here in advance: Carcassonne Castle and Defense walls

By the way: Don’t be surprised by the yellow “stripes” on the castle walls that you see in this photo. This is a temporary art project that was only on view for a few weeks.

3. Narbonne: The cozy town on the Canal de la Robine Between Narbonne and us it sparked straight away. Narbonne exudes a very authentic southern French flair. In other words, the older generation meets here on the park bench to chat, while the youngsters use the promenade to go skateboarding. In short: You dive right into the life of the locals – and we have the impression that Narbonne is a pretty liveable city.

The Cathedral of Narbonne If you look for photos of Narbonne, you will come across a particular subject over and over again: that of Narbonne Cathedral, also known as Saint-Just-et-Saint-Pasteur Cathedral. It is quite impressive to look at from below.

The bird’s eye view tops the whole thing again. The best view of the cathedral is from the tower of the Palais des Archevêques. Because we think you shouldn’t leave Narbonne without seeing this view, here’s how to get there.

The most beautiful view in Narbonne: Palais des Archevêques That Palais des Archevêques is an architectural complex located right next to the Cathedral. It houses the city hall (Hôtel de Ville) and some art collections. The highlight, however, is the ascent of the tower, of the so-called Donjon Gilles Aycelin.

The ascent is a little sweaty, but it’s worth the effort: you have a from above) degree view over Narbonne and of course above all a great view of the cathedral. Another tip: the access to climb the tower is via the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville.

Market halls “Les Halles” The market halls of Narbonnes are definitely worth a visit. In the so-called “Les Halles” takes place at 365 days a year (!) the municipal market takes place. About 52 Market stalls here you will find regional and international delicacies, including fruit, vegetables, bread, meat, fish and of course lots of pastries.

By the way, the charming market hall is worth seeing in itself: The pavilion was built at the beginning of 20. Built at the end of the 19th century, its stone and metal architecture is quite an eye-catcher.

Information on visiting “Les Halles” Opening times: daily from 7 until about. 14 o’clock (peak time is definitely in the morning)

Address: 1 Cours Mirabeau, 11000 Narbonne, France

Our personal tip: Glacier Marguerite When we were a young resident after When we asked the best ice cream in Narbonne, she didn’t have to think long: the newly opened Glacier Marguerite was her absolute favourite. So of course we didn’t hesitate and got an idea of ​​it ourselves.

Our conclusion: Highly recommended! Not only is the interior completely to our liking, but the ice cream itself was incredibly delicious! We chose (how could it be otherwise) pistachio.

Address: 1 rue du Pont des Marchands, 11100 Narbonne, France

Dinner at Restaurant Gaia Our evening menu in the Gaia restaurant was not only our best in Narbonne, but one of the culinary highlights of our entire trip to southern France. The restaurant recently received the “Bib Gourmand” award from Michelin. And we can confirm that Gaia attaches great importance to regional, fresh products.

What we found particularly great: The menu says also a completely vegan menu. (And if you’re a vegetarian traveling through France for a longer period of time, then you really appreciate it.) The prices are absolutely reasonable, by the way. Eating out in France is quite expensive, but the value for money at the Gaia is definitely right. For example, the vegan menu has 24 Euro cost. Our bill has total for two people (with wine and water) 73 Euro agreed.

Address: 8 Avenue des Pyrenees, 11100 Narbonne, France (We recommend booking!)

Dinner at Les Grands Buffets Les Grands Buffets is a Narbonne institution. Nomen est omen: The buffet in this restaurant is really “grand”. In fact, it’s so extensive that you can’t even try nearly everything in one evening.

In several rooms you will find a cross-section of French cuisine. So if you want to try the really unusual specialties of France (frog legs!), then you’ve come to the right place. But don’t worry, there’s more down-to-earth food too, including plenty of fish, seafood and meat dishes. Only the selection of vegetarian dishes could be a bit larger.

A highlight is also the cheese and dessert buffet. We really have something there again reached (if yes, then yes). Conclusion: Of course you have to like the buffet character, but it is a nice change from a normal visit to a restaurant.

Address: Espace de Liberté, Rond Point de la Liberté, 11100 Narbonne, France
Price: 35,90 Euro per person (excl. drinks)

4. Water sports in Saint-Pierre-la-Mer Narbonne is not far from the Mediterranean coast: a good 20 minute drive separates you from the seaside resort of the same name: Narbonne Plage. However, we are a few minutes further north to the adjacent Saint -Pierre-la-Mer driven. Our destination: Glisse & Kite, a water sports school located directly on a lagoon.

If you like water sports then you will love it there. From kitesurfing to stand up paddling, wakeboarding, sailing, kayaking or windsu You can try everything or, of course, perfect it. Christophe, the owner, and his girlfriend Geraldine have created a wonderful and, above all, very idyllic place there – with a beach bar, lounge music and a view of the lagoon.

But we are not only came to enjoy the view, but were allowed to wakeboard for the first time in our lives. The whole thing works via a wakeboard lift, which pulls you over the water. The beginner session lasts only 20 minutes, but these 14 Minutes have it all, we can say!

All info and prices can be found on the official website: Glisse & Kite.

5. The fishing village of Gruissan If you’ve ever driven to the coast then we can highly recommend you, including the pretty fishing village of Gruissan to pay a visit. The old town is slightly raised on a small hill and is a nice photo motif even from a distance.

But it is definitely worth taking a walk through the alleys up to the Castle ruins to make. From there you have a wonderful 80 degree view over the city and bays. There are a few restaurants and souvenir shops in the alleyways, but all in all Gruissan can be explored quickly.

By the way: A few minutes’ drive from the old town is Gruissan Plage. This seaside resort is known for its boathouses built on stilts (to protect against flooding). The beach is incredibly wide and seemed very inviting to us. We would have loved to jump into the water!

6. Hotel tip for Narbonne: La Maison Gustave We spent two nights at La Maison Gustave in Narbonne and can only warmly recommend this accommodation Recommend! In our opinion, the name was chosen very aptly, because La Maison Gustave is located in an old, very charming and somewhat crooked building right in the center of Narbonne.

There are only 5 rooms, which are all very different and furnished with a lot of love for detail. We stayed in the junior suite “Explorateurs” and felt extremely comfortable. (Incidentally, it was so good that we found it really difficult to leave our room after two days.) We lacked nothing here: comfortable beds, air conditioning, a wonderful bathroom and fluffy towels.

The breakfast was placed in a basket in front of the room door at the desired time. (In the cheaper category, the room is served in the shared kitchen.) So you can imagine how much we celebrated our breakfast every morning. And the most important thing: thanks to the capsule coffee machine, we were also able to enjoy really good coffee, yay!

The location of La Maison Gustave couldn’t be better: we had a direct View of the Cathedral. All of Narbonne’s sights are within walking distance. Parking in the old town is a bit tedious, but with a little patience you can always find a parking space. (Note: there is a blue zone directly in front of the hotel, ie you have to pay here during the day.)

The only mini disadvantage: In the house there there is no elevator. This makes transporting the luggage a bit more difficult, but we were really happy to accept that! Unfortunately, La Maison Gustave is not suitable for people with restricted mobility. We heartily recommend it to everyone else!

You can book accommodation here: La Maison Gustave

Transparency: {Advertisement} For this blog article we have collaborated with the French National Tourist Board (Atout France). As part of the #facesoffrance nature campaign, we were allowed to travel through southern France for two weeks – including the Aude department. Of course, this cooperation has no influence on our opinion.

This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you ever been to the Aude – for example in Carcassonne or Narbonne? Or do you have any other tips for the region? Leave us a comment with your experiences!