Karma’s latest acquisition inhabits a region steeped in history, beauty and the very best of French agrarian culture…
Located in the Toulouse-Montpellier-Barcelona triangle, Carcassonne has long been a vital link between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic – a major stop on trade routes going back thousands of years which provided a vital link between cultures and the movement of ideas and goods to all corners of Europe.
From the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Carcassonne’s La Cité (old medieval city) and the Canal du Midi, to the green hills of the Languedoc wine route, the region offers discerning travellers a very different slice of French provincial life.
Walking through history
No trip to Carcassonne is complete without a day spent wandering the cobbled lane ways of La Cité, the UNESCO listed medieval city that sits atop a hill with commanding of the surrounding countryside. As the only inhabited original fortified city in Europe, La Cité invites visitors to step back in time and imagine a different era. Walk through the main gates (complete with drawbridge) and pick a direction, you’ll wonder at the excellently preserved examples of Gothic architecture, while along the walls loom some 53 towers and barbicans which were used to repel attacking armies.
A moving feast – Vins de Pays to pâté campaign
Located as it is on the very western edge of France’s lauded Languedoc-Roussillon wine region, Carcassonne is close to the wineries of Limoux, Cabardés and Malepére – home to some of the region’s best AOC certified wines as well as some excellent Vins de Pays. Take a day trip to Limoux to experience some of the stunning geographic variation the region has to offer; the further you go south, the wilder it gets.
Many other primary producers in the region carry the AOC certification and are well worth exploring on the plate and the palate, such as Laguiole and Pélardon cheeses. Accordingly, the region’s restaurants are a homage to the very best in French provincial fare. Lovers of haute cuisine will relish La Barbacane, located in the old city; the gothic wood panel interiors and heraldic wallpaper will make you feel like royalty, while the menu features original and tempting dishes imbued with artistry and flair. Looking for something a little more rustique? Try Auberge de Dame Carcas, also located in La Cité, which specialises in local and regional dishes, such as Cassoulet with Duck Confit and La Plancha Beef.
Cruise down the Canal du Midi
Considered one of the great construction works of the 17th century, the Canal du Midi links the Garonne River to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean – a 241km-long waterway which carried people and goods between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The soft banks, stunning manicured forests and lush walking and cycling trails make a day trip a must.
The best way to see the Canal du Midi from Carcassonne is to walk or hire a bike for the day. Guided boat tours leave daily from April 1st each year. Head to one of Carcassonne’s many boutique groceries and stock up on the ultimate picnic, then spend the day exploring the Canal’s many locks, bridges and aqueducts.