Prefecture of the Aude department
Stage town for the 11th time
Population: 47,365 (Carcassonnais, Carcassonnaises), 115,930 in Carcassonne Agglo (82 communes)
Specialities: cassoulet (a universal cassoulet academy), petit carcassonnais (madeleine), Micheline, Or Kina (plant-based liqueur). Wines of the Aude: Minervois, Cabardes, Corbières, Malepère, Limoux...
Personalities: Fabre d'Eglantine (1750-1794, poet and revolutionary), André Chénier (1762-1794, poet and revolutionary), Paul Lacombe (1837-1927, composer), Jöe Bousquet (poet), Prosper Montagné (1865-1948, French chef), Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (rehabilitated the Cité), René Nelli (poet), Jean Camberoque (painter), Jean-Michel Signoles (industrialist), Claude Marti (Occitan singer, writer and poet), Olivia Ruiz (singer), Stephan Eicher (Swiss singer, recorded an album called Carcassonne in 1993), Automne Pavia (judo, European champion and Olympic and world medalist)
Sport: Union Sportive Carcassonne (rugby à XV for 117 years), Association Sportive Carcassonnaise (rugby à XIII, 14 French Cups and 11 French Championships).
Competitions : Aude Petanque Championship (March), Horse races at the Fajeolle racecourse, Spartam Race Carcassonne (obstacle course, May), Carcassonne Triathlon (May), International Swimming Meeting (June), Carcassonne Marathon and Half Marathon (June), Ronde des vendanges (pedestrian race, September), Swimrun de Carcassonne (September), Grand Raid des Cathares (October), Frappadingue Occitane X'Trem (obstacle race, October), Cross de la Cité (December) Cycling club: Avenir Cycliste Carcassonnais (ASC Cyclisme, created in 1920).
Culture: numerous events on the occasion of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the double signature of the UNESCO inscription of the Medieval City and the inscription of the Bastide St Louis in the Protected Area, now listed as Remarkable Heritage.
Festivals: Scènes d'enfance (March), Festival de Carcassonne (110 shows on 10 stages, July), Embrasement de la Cité (14 July, 700,000 spectators), Feria de Carcassonne (August), Fête du Vin (October), International Political Film Festival (December), Magie de Noël (December)
Economy: tourism since the 19th century after the restoration of the Cité (2,450,000 visitors per year). Business tourism with the new Convention Centre in the heart of the city. Sud de France Carcassonne airport. University (2,000 students). ENAC (National School of Civil Aviation). Nine vineyards in the commune of Carcassonne.
Labels: 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the Canal du Midi since 1996 and the Medieval City since 1997) / City of Art and History / Tourist Office classified in category 1 / Quality Tourism / Tourist resort.
Websites and social networks: www.carcassonne.org / www.tourisme-carcassonne.fr / www.carcassonne-agglo.fr / www.aude.fr / www.audetourisme.com / www.laregion.fr / www.sud-de-france.com / www.facebook.com/VilledeCarcassonne / www.facebook.com/tourismecarcassonne / www.facebook.com/departementdelaude / fr-fr.facebook.com/CarcassonneAgglo/ / twitter.com/CarcaInfos / @Occitanie / www.youtube.com/user/carcassonneville / www.pinterest.fr/Otgrandcarca / www.flickr.com/photos/villedecarcassonne
The year of the bicycle
For several years now, the town has been keen to develop a soft and environmentally friendly means of transport on its territory: it now has more than 30 km of cycle paths and does not intend to stop here, by linking the hamlets of the town to the town centre for the last phase. To complete its "green" offer, it offers the people of Carcassonne CYCLO'Lib, 50 self-service electrically-assisted bicycles: a service that has been a great success with the population.
Launched on the occasion of the Fête du Tour on 13 May 2021, the municipal tourist office is offering, on the "Carcassonne interactive" app, bike tours starting from Carcassonne to discover the surrounding heritage sites and buildings, five of which have been validated by the cyclist Laurent Jalabert, the sponsor of the operation in Carcassonne.
More broadly, the city's proactive sports policy has earned it several awards, such as "Active and Sporting City", "Sport and Health Centre", "Playing Field 2024", etc. A city where sport has its rightful place: a major challenge when one considers the benefits of physical activity in the daily lives of citizens.
CARCASSONNE AND CYCLING
The burning of the Cité, a grandiose pyrotechnical spectacle, attracts 700,000 people every year on the evening of 14 July. Among the riders who set Carcassonne on fire, Jean Stablinski won in 1962 in the middle of one of his best seasons, between a stage victory in the Tour of Spain, which he finished in sixth place, a new title of French champion and above all his world championship title.
The recent starts from Carcassonne have been a credit to the attackers who are ready to expose themselves whatever their pedigree. In 2014, it was on the road to Bagnères-de-Luchon that Michael Rogers was part of a large breakaway he outwitted in the finale to take his only Tour victory. Two years later, the Carcassonne-Montpellier syage ended with a famous duet between Chris Froome and Peter Sagan. With the last word going to the Slovak. And in 2018, it was again in Bagnères-de-Luchon that Julian Alaphilippe went to knit a sleeve of his polka dot jersey by winning in the Pyrenees. The day before, for the last finish in front of the city walls, it was Danish rider Magnus Cort Nielsen who won.
Albert Bourlon had a fireworks display in the 1947 Tour, going from the gun at the foot of the medieval city not to be seen again by the rest of the field before Bagnères-de-Luchon, the end of the stage. The former Renault worker went fishing for bonuses and ended up winning on the finish line, 16 minutes ahead of the next rider at the end of a 253 km breakaway, the longest in the history of the Tour. "I didn't expect to win the stage. I would have been content to pocket the bonuses, which represented twice my monthly salary," he explained.
It was also a form of revenge for this modest rider who had even been forgotten by the race commissaires in the classification of the stage contested two days earlier: "Did you see me this time? "he told them at the finish.
At more than 30 years of age, this exploit allowed him to finish 21st in the Tour de France. It was a one-off for Albert Bourlon, who set off on his longest breakaway in October 2013, at the age of 96.
The Medieval City
The medieval city of Carcassonne, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is emblematic of the city. Built on an oppidum used since the 8th century BC, the medieval city, its 3 kilometres of ramparts and 52 towers tell the story of 2,500 years of frontier history and feudalism, from the Gallo-Roman era, the domination of the Visigoths, the Saracen occupation, the Albigensian Crusade and up to the assertion of the royal authority in the 13th century
The Bastide Saint-Louis came into being under the impetus of King Saint Louis, who created a second medieval city, the Bastide Saint-Louis. Although burnt down by the Black Prince, the Bastide has kept its original orthogonal plan to this day. Its prosperity as a cloth-making town in the 17th century, and then the wine trade from the 19th century onwards, led to the construction of several mansions with remarkable architecture.
Today 700,000 visitors come on foot from the Cité, using the Pont Vieux (Old Bridge), to discover the original shops of the Bastide, in a southern town atmosphere, to the banks of the Canal du Midi.
Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi, built by Pierre-Paul Riquet in the 17th century to link the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, was once used to transport goods and people. Today it is used by many boaters and runners through the heart of the city of Carcassonne. Since 1996, the Canal du Midi has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Locks, bridges, aqueducts and canal bridges that run along the 240 km of waterway are evidence of both a technical feat and a work of art.
Museum of Fine Arts
Housed in the former Présidial in the heart of the bastide St Louis, it was created in 1845. The collections of the Fine Arts Museum present a rich panorama of Western painting from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, as well as a collection of earthenware, tapestries and objects but also temporary summer exhibitions.
The vineyards (living heritage)
The "Cité de Carcassonne" is an IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) appellation covering 3,000 hectares divided into 27 farms, 9 of which are located in the commune of Carcassonne, right under the ramparts of the Cité. The vineyards are an invitation to get away from it all and to discover large natural areas with changing landscapes: the Malepère, the Corbières, the Minervois, the Montagne Noire, offer Cévennes-like views with their deep chestnut groves, Tuscan atmospheres from the hills with their clusters of cypress trees.
The ultimate defence of the town, it was built in the 12th century by the Trencavels, Viscounts of Carcassonne, and was constantly modified over the following centuries. In the 13th century, the construction of the surrounding wall was undertaken to fortify it. This belt consists of a curtain wall, round towers, the entrance small castle, the barbican and the moat.
A church in the Languedoc Gothic style, dating from the 13th century, it became a cathedral in 1803 and was restored by Viollet le Duc after the fire of 1849. The plan of the cathedral is characterised by a relative simplicity. It forms a single nave with a height of 20 metres under the vaults and is bordered by several side chapels. The choir still has 14th-century stained-glass windows. The façade is very sober, the only decorative element being a large rose window eight metres in diameter, and the bell tower adjacent to this façade is quite massive.
The theatre, which is located inside the medieval city, was created in 1908, on the site of the old Saint-Nazaire cloister. It had nearly 6,000 seats (just over 3,000 authorised today) and the audience was seated on benches or simple chairs. In 1957, Jean Deschamps, an actor and director, created the famous Festival de la Cité, which has taken place every summer since then. The theatre was modified in 1972. As a tribute to the work of Jean Deschamps, the Grand Théâtre de la Cité was renamed the "Jean Deschamps Theatre" on 15 July 2006.
Fougasse aux fritons
Heir to an exceptional historical heritage, Carcassonne is also a gourmet stopover that reveals all the richness of the Languedoc region. Among the specialities to be savoured during a trip along the Canal du Midi, fougasse aux fritons is both simple and tasty. This peasant preparation was originally conceived to enrich the flavour of the bread with the remains of the pig.