Walt Disney is said to have been inspired by its towers, turrets, and ramparts and you can understand why when the sun rises up over the medieval city of Carcassonne in south east France. It’s easy too to imagine a knight galloping up the cobbled streets, and dashing through the portcullis to save his princess. In fact, Carcassonne, at the heart of Cathar country, was first recorded in pre-Roman times; it was, and continued to be for centuries, an important fortification with views up and down the Aude valley – west towards Castelnaudary and east to Narbonne and the Mediterranean; to the south tower the Pyrenees Mountains and to the north the Montagne Noir or Black Mountains.
Today, the city of Carcassonne – the capital of the Aude department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France – has two parts to entice full- or part-time residents and investors: The medieval Cité (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) up on a plateau on the right bank of the river Aude and the Bastide Saint Louis below the Cité on the left bank. The Bastide, commissioned by Saint- Louis in 1260, was built in an easy to navigate grid pattern. Though the medieval Cité is where the tourists head to, the Bastide is where most live.
Just 10-minutes drive from the center is a stunning 18- hole golf course, and a natural leisure park with freshwater swimming, hikes, and picnicking. Within an hour from Carcassonne you can be sunning yourself on the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean, and within 90 minutes skiing in the Pyrenees. There are thousands of acres of vineyards producing many award-wining wines to visit, the wilderness of the Black Mountains and the Corbières hills to explore, awe- inspiring medieval castles to discover, the cosmopolitan city of Toulouse an hour west along the freeway, and Spain just a hop and a skip across the border.