By air: Ryanair flies from several UK destinations to Carcassonne from £12.99 one-way. The airport is a 10min drive from the city, and shuttle buses (€5) run 30 minutes after every scheduled flight (ryanair.com).
By rail: Trains from Paris via Narbonne or various other stations take from 5hr 20min.
Walking is the easiest and most enjoyable way to discover compact Carcassonne and it is largely pedestrianised, too. Bicycle rentals and tours are available, and make a great way to explore the See the two sides of Carcassonne on a weekend break Canal du Midi. Various private guided tours of castles, villages and vineyards are available from Vins et Merveilles (carcassonnetourism.com). WHERE TO STAY
Lara stayed at: Hôtel Aragon
5 Montée Combeleran 11000 Carcassonne Tel: (Fr) 4 68 47 16 31 hotelaragon.fr/en This modern hotel is conveniently located a five-minute walk from the gates of the Cité. While away any spare time at the small outdoor pool. Doubles from €88. two-for-one accommodation from 1 November to 5 March. Ask for the Bon Week-end à Carcassonne brochure at the tourist office.
WHERE TO EAT Lara ate at: Le Jardin de la Tour
11 Rue Porte d’aude 11000 Carcassonne Tel: (Fr) 4 68 25 71 24 mycarcassonne.com/ le-jardin-de-la-tour Within the walls of the Cité, this unpretentious restaurant serves excellent, locally inspired cuisine. The garden is the real selling point, with magnificent views up to the castle. Mains from €17, menu from €32.
Restaurant Robert Rodriguez
39 Rue Coste Reboulh 11000 Carcassonne Tel: (Fr) 4 68 47 37 80 web.lerelaisinternet. com/117846419 This Michelin-listed restaurant has a quirky vintage feel but the food is incredible. Chef Robert Rodriguez focuses on high-quality local produce and flavours. Mains from €20.
Le Puits du Trésor
21 Rue des 4 Châteaux 11600 Lastours Tel: (Fr) 4 68 77 50 24 lepuitsdutresor.com The food at this oneMichelin-star restaurant 18km from Carcassonne is exquisite, although the atmosphere is slightly lacking. The creativity of (requested) vegetarian dishes is particularly impressive. Menus from €47 (€67 with paired wines).
Domaine d’auriac Restaurant Bernard Rigaudis
2535 Route de Saint Hilaire 11009 Carcassonne Tel: (Fr) 4 68 25 72 22 domaine-d-auriac.com Located within a gorgeous Relais & Châteaux hotel, this one-michelin-star restaurant is extraordinary. Sit on the covered veranda on a fine day and enjoy the superbly crafted dishes and accompanying wines (largely local). Four-course Menu du Domaine from €79.
WHERE TO VISIT
Château et Remparts de la Cité de Carcassonne 1 Rue Viollet-le-duc La Cité 11000 Carcassonne Tel: (Fr) 4 68 11 70 72 remparts-carcassonne.fr Wander around the ramparts and see a variety of displays and exhibitions within the castle walls.
Musée des Beaux-arts
1 Rue de Verdun 11000 Carcassonne Tel: (Fr) 4 68 77 73 70 A diverse collection of European art from the 17th Century to present day.
Les Halles Market
Place Eggenfelden 11000 Carcassonne Covered market selling local produce including wines, cheeses and shellfish. Open Tues-sat mornings.
The area is crammed with things to do and see, such as the four Cathar castles of nearby Lastours and the small town of Caunes-minervois, which is famed for its red marble. There is also a wealth of vineyards and glorious scenery including the Canal du Midi.
ABOVE: The fortified Cité of Carcassonne; BELOW: The four Cathar castles of Lastours, north of Carcassonne
Many hotels and B&BS in Carcassonne offer