Carcassonne, one of the best UNESCO World Heritage site in France
France boasts 41 UNESCO sites, but many of them fly under the tourist radar. Here’s a peek at Carcasonne, one of the World Heritage havens.
A medieval fortress town bordered by an impressive canal, Carcassonne offers two UNESCO World Heritage sites in the space of a few square miles.
Fans of the knights-in-shining-armor era will find their happy place in this bustling city in south-central France. In fact, Carcassone represents one of the biggest and best preserved fortified cities in Europe.
With 53 watchtowers and about 1.5 miles of ramparts open to the public, visitors will want to devote a full day to exploring this real-life Magic Kingdom. Take a stroll behind the high stone walls of Carcassonne's old town for a view of the Languedoc vineyards that skirt the city, or hop on the “Petit Train” to see the sights in retro, open-air comfort.
But there’s more. Winding through Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi—a World Heritage site since 1996, a year before the fortified city was designated—was constructed at the behest of Louis XIV, who dictated that the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea be joined to facilitate the transportation of wheat. Today navigated by river cruises and houseboats, the placid 150-mile waterway was the Three Gorges Dam of the 17th century in terms of engineering.
Crowd-pleasing Carcassonne is a popular destination during school vacations and in the summer (especially during July and August), so best plan accordingly. One strategy: Enjoy the medieval city early in the day, break for lunch on a shady veranda, and continue your visit with an afternoon promenade—on foot or by bike—along one of the well-marked trails between Carcassonne and the shaded banks of the Canal du Midi.
source: National Geographic