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Carcassonne, the Cité
The Bastide de Saint Louis
The Aude
The Languedoc
Carcassonne Photos
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Carcassonne Loft - Penthouse Apartment
in the Languedoc, South of France

The Bastide de Saint Louis - La Ville Basse


The bastide is a pentagonal medieval city organised around a central square.

It is packed with sites of interest to visitors.

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After French Crusaders dispossessed and killed the Viscount of Carcassonne in 1208, they had trouble controlling the local population, who still owed their allegiance the their Viscount's feudal suzerain, the King of Aragon. After an uprising in 1240 the French expelled the inhabitants of the original Cité of Carcassonne, not trusting them to help maintain the place against allies of the dispossessed Viscomtal family.

Citizens were permitted to build a new and indefensible town on a plain across the the river Aude. It was laid out in the latest fashion in a grid pattern and known as the Bastide de Saint Louis (after King Louis IX of France). Later, in the fourteenth century, the pentagonal city was fortified, with a city wall, defensive towers and defensive gates, and ditches outside the walls.

Today the bastide sits at the heart of the modern city, but you can still make out the layout of the road grid. It is bordered by boulevards constructed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These boulevards are build over the earlier defensive ditches (dry moats) outside the defensive city walls.

These walls (l’enceinte) were built between 1355 and 1359, on the Orders of the Comte d’Armagnac. They extended some 3,000 years (2,800 meters). Towers were built before 1359, but were replaced by bastions during the Wars of Religion in the Sixteenth century. The Bastion de Saint-Martial to the north-west corner., le Bastion de la Figuières to the north-east, le Bastion de Montmorency to the south-east, and the Tour Grosse (or Tour des Moulins) to the south-west..

At the eve ofthe Révolution in 1789, the bastide still possessed only four gateways into the bastide. Two of these are near to the apartment. One is the Gate of the Cordeliers, at the east end of the rue Aimé Ramond. The other, the southern one, is the Gateway Des Jacobins, just around the corner from the apartment. This gateway is classified (in the French inventaire supplémentaire Des Monuments Historiques).









Click on the following link for photographs of the nearby Cité


Things to see and do in the Bastide

The central square is la Place Carnot with la Fontaine de Neptune (1770) in its centre. In this square and in the superb eighteenth century Halle aux Grains a market is held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Restaurants, Bistros, Brasseries and bars (literally dozens)

Tourist Information Office (a few minutes' walk from the Penthouse)

Shops: boucheres, boulangeries, pattisseries, chocolateries, libraries (bookshops), etc

Markets, including les Halles

Tourist shops: art shops, jewellers, clothes shops, shoe shops, leather goods, etc

Other shops: estate agents, tour operators, tabacs,

Historic Buildings: Carcassonne possesses a number of large town houses from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries - they are known as hôtels particuliars.You can see many examples within a few minutes walk of the penthouse. Examples are:

  • The Hôtel de Rolland (rue Aimé Ramon) - now the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), located just over the road from the Penthouse. It was built between 1746 and 1761, and stayed in the same family until 1924. It has been the 'Hôtel de Ville de Carcassonne since 1978. The façade on the rue Aimé Ramon is decorated with sculptures, with balconies in wrought iron. Behind is a spectacular court yard.
  • L'Eveché - now the Prefecture (rue Jean Bringer) - built in 1760 by the bishop Armand Bazin de Bezons, who was also responsible for the boulevards and les Halles. At this date the cathedral was still in the Cité, but the bishop preferred to live in the more comfortable Ville Basse. In 1803, the hôtel became the Préfecture de l'Aude.
  • The Hôtel de Roux d'Alzonne (rue de Verdun) - now the Lycée André Chenier. The greater part dates from the Sixteenth century, but the façade dates from the 1750's. The mullioned windows date from the sixteenth century, and the door and fountain from the Eighteenth. Louis XIV stayed hereon his way to Saint Jean de Luz, where he married Marie Thérèse.
  • La Maison du Sénéchal. This is said to be the oldest house in the Ville Basse. It survived the great fire that ravaged the town when it was taken by the Black Prince in 1355. Despite the name, there is no evidence that the Kings seneschals lived here - they lived in the Cite. The ground floor with its windows and ogival door are the oldest part. The windows of the first floor date from the fourteenth century. The interior courtyard is pretty, with a small well, and decorated with columns dating from the sixteenth century. The rest was restored by the nineteenth century architect Viollet le Duc.
  • The Hôtel de Saint André (rue Jean Bringer) - The windows and porch are surmounted by decorations reminiscent of flower pots. A passage way leads to a courtyard containing a huge palm tree. On the left is the main entry door, sculpted in the Gothic style and dating from the time of Louis XII (end of the Fifteenth century).
  • Other notable hôtels include l'Hôtel de Murat, l'Hôtel Castanier-Laporterie and l'Hôtel de Franc de Cahuzac, la Maison Cotte

Cathedrals, churches and chapels. Including the Cathedral of saint Michel, and la Chapelle Des Dominicaines

Squares, Gardens, Parks and Boulevards

The Canal du Midi, a World Heritage site, where you can take various boat trips



What's On in the Bastide

Museums & Permanent things to do
in the Bastide Saint Louis

Independent tours of the Bastide
28, rue de Verdun
11890 Carcassonne Cédex 9
Tél :
Fax :

Every day, throughout the year
Admission for a fee

A tour through the heart of the Bastide Saint-Louis to view its many treasures (in French, English and Spanish).

3€ per audio guide. Duration: 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Reservation recommended.

Guided tours of the Bastide
28, rue de Verdun
11890 Carcassonne Cédex 9
Tél :
Fax :

From 12/6/2007 through 13/9/2007, every tuesday and thursday.
Reservations advised at the Municipal Tourist Office

Guided tours of the Bastide Saint Louis.

Discover its remains, its monuments and its private mansions, between the banks of the Aude and the Canal du Midi.

Price : - Adults: 5€ - Children : 5€ - Under 12 : free.

Boat Hire - Société Nautic
15, quai Riquet
Tél : 04 68 71 88 95

Entry fee

Boat hire, weekends and weekly.

Boats sleep 2 to 12 people.

Boat trip with Solal
Tél : 06 07 74 04 57

Open every day from April to October (except Mondays in off-season).
Entry fee

Duration 1:45hrs, or 2:30hrs to see the locks.

Departure from and return to the Carcassonne harbour. Guided visit in English, Spanish, French.

Memorial house
53, rue de Verdun
Tél : 04 68 72 45 55
Fax : 04 68 25 92 30

Open Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 12pm and from 2pm to 6pm.

This is the house where the poet Joë Bousquet lived as an invalid and invited all the major creators of the first half of the 20th century. A succession of painters, poets and scholars visited him in his room that still looks today as it did in his time. Permanent exhibition of the works of Joë Bousquet.

Temporary exhibition relating to the cultural heritage of the département or the works of various audois artists.

This building houses the offices of the René Nelli Centre for Cathar Studies and the Groupe Audois de Recherche et d'Animations Ethnographiques.

Museum of Fine Arts
1, rue de Verdun
Tél : 04 68 77 73 70

From 15/06 to 15/09, every day from 10am to 6pm. From 16/09 to 14/06, Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm, and the first Sunday of every month, October to June, from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

A panoramic picture of European paintings of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Guided tour on request.

In Carcassonne,
in addition to the Cité and the Bastide St Louis

Forest Acrobatic Park
Lac de la Cavayère
Tél : 06 07 96 04 55 /
06 63 12 36 96

Open every day from 1pm to 6pm during June, July and August. Otherwise open on Wednesdays, weekends, public holidays and school holidays from 1pm to 6pm between March and November. Winter opening by arrangement only.
Entry fee. From 8 € to 16 € depending on course (height restrictions apply).

Seven courses of varying difficulty with more than 80 workshops, including two Tyrolean traverses above Lac de la Cavayère.

Musée Beaubois
5 impasse des écoles
Tél : 04 68 71 42 62

Open for parties with advanced booking (phone between 12:00 pm - 2:00pm)

Exhibition of works by Jean Beaubois, - Temporary exhibitions, - Library of art books and books on art, - Children's library, - Storytelling workshop, - Restoration workshop.

Parc Australien

chemin des bartavelles
Tél : 04 68 25 05 07
Fax : 04 68 25 55 35

Open every day from 2pm from 1 April to 15 November. Open from 10.45am to 7.30pm during July and August.
Adults: 8 euros - Children: 7 euros (4-12 years old: 6 euros)

Rather bizarrely, an Australian nature art.

From kangaroos to emus, from gold prospectors to aborigines, from boomerangs to didgeridoos, share in the "Australian dream".


Carcassonne Golf Club (Golf de Carcassonne) Click here for more details of golf clubs in this area

Click on the following link to open in a new window an external site Acacia, a Carcassonne Tennis Club

Click on the following link to open in a new window an external site with Carcassonne's Official seasonal What's on (In French)







Just outside the main entrance to the Bastide -
a broad boulevard just a couple of minutes' walk from the Penthouse


The Porte Des Jacobins - the main entrance into the Bastide


Just inside the main entrance to the Bastide - the rue Aime Ramon and the Penthouse


The Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) in the rue Aimé Ramon.
A seventeenth century grand town house (hôtel particulaire)


Rear of the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), housed in the Hôtel de Rolland, once a private residence


Les Halles - a covered market, a few minutes walk away from the penthouse


The Banque de France is just round the corner from the Penthouse


Sea Jousting, an ancient sport, has recently been re-introduced in Carcassonne. Joustes are held each year on the Canal du Midi.


Nearby shops include jewellers, hat shops, antique shops, and numerous food shops


The 1920's style city theatre - less than two minutes walk from the Penthouse


Some architectural details in the bastide

A quiet side street


Some roads in the Bastide are named after French heroes of the Second World War
(Some identify the code-names of Resistance heroes)


The Dôme - exterior and interior - less than five minutes' walk from the Penthouse


A remaining part of the city walls - the seventeenth century Bastion Montmorency.
Three minutes walk from the Penthouse


A House built on the Bastion Montmorency


The Museum of Fine Arts (in an historic hôtel particuliare) - three minutes walk from the Penthouse


Carcassonne Railway Station, less than ten minutes walk from the penthouse


Boat trips on the picturesque Canal du Midi, less than ten minutes walk from the penthouse


The Canal du Midi which skirts the bastide, less than ten minutes walk from the penthouse


Tourists enjoying lunch by the Canal du Midi


A city view - one of several churches in the bastide


In France an "Hôtel" is a large town house.


War Memorial


An eighteenth century town house just outside the bastide


The City coat of arms on the pediment of a building


Some roads are named after famous French historical figures


Spanish dresses for sale at the Saturday market


The Cathedral of St Michel - two minutes walk from the penthouse












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© James McDonald, 2006-8LinksContact by e-mail