Bordeaux to Carcassonne: A Modern Train to Medieval Adventure

It’s getting to be that time of year, when local Renaissance Faires are overtaken by the masses who wish to experience what medieval life was like. Many hours and much detail go into replicating medieval villages for the enjoyment of fair-goers, and a spectacular job is done. This year, why not explore a bit further past your town limits, and visit an authentic medieval European city. In this post, we’re sharing how to travel from Bordeaux to Carcassonne, and some of the best things to see and do in this medieval city of France.

Exploring the Medieval City of Carcassonne

Medieval Fortress of Carcassonne, France - at night

Medieval Fortress of Carcassonne, France – at night

Carcassonne is one of France’s best preserved medieval towns – visited by nearly three million people each year. This fortified city contains much to see and do. The city is actually split into two sections, the Cite de Carcassonne, which is the medieval fortress, and the lower city where you will find shops, hotels and other popular sights of the city.

Standing proud with nearly 2 miles of walls and 52 towers, the fortress was used in the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, due to its dramatic setting. Today, visitors can enjoy watching live jousting events, held twice a day between the two walls. This is an amazing display of horsemanship and competition – similar to what you might find at your local renaissance faire. There is a small fee to watch the jousting, but it’s money well spent when you go home with such vivid memories of your time in this medieval village.

In July and August, you can take part in the Festival de Carcassonne, a spectacular line-up of local and international artists in various themes such as music, dance, opera, circus, theater & concerts. Many of the acts you can enjoy for free, while others have a fee.

Stained glass window in Basilica de Saint Nazaire, Carcassonne France

Stained glass window in Basilica de Saint Nazaire, Carcassonne France. Photo Copyright © Laurent Bartkowski https://flic.kr/p/cQwgYo

You won’t want to miss out on the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, a gorgeous church, still in use. The stained glass windows of this basilica are spectacular and well worth a visit. Depending one when you go, you may be lucky enough to hear the sounds of the Russian Orthodox trio who perform a medley of songs from their CD, from Russian Orthodox songs to traditional christian hymns from around the world, the music just adds to the incredible ambiance of the church. Because the church is still active, upon your arrival there may be services taking place.

Some other places to visit are the School Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Memorial House and the  O2 Aventure Lac de la Cavayere – great fun for families!

There is much more to see and do in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Carcassonne, while this post does not offer an exhaustive list of ALL things to see and do while in Carcassonne, it’s a good start! Of course, the best way to get a true feel for any city is to get up and visit it – so with that said, let’s see how to get to Carcassonne!

Traveling From Bordeaux to Carcassonne by Train

TGV arriving in Carcassonne France. Photo Copyright © Buileshuibhne https://flic.kr/p/872EFq

TGV arriving in Carcassonne France. Photo Copyright © Buileshuibhne https://flic.kr/p/872EFq

You can easily reach the medieval town of Carcassonne by train from Bordeaux. There is direct TGV service a few times a day, or you can take a train connecting in Toulouse.

The direct TGV from Bordeaux to Carcassonne is just under three hours travel time. Fares start at $61 per person. This train is a TGV duplex meaning it has an upper and lower level of seating. You can be assured that wherever your seat, you will be comfortable and be able to take in the sights around you.

If you’re traveling throughout France with a rail pass, you will just need to purchase a reservation to ride the TGV, the fee is $11 per person.

In the coming weeks we’ll be posting about other medieval cities in Britain and Europe. What are some of your favorite medieval cities, towns & villages to explore? Have you been to Carcassonne?

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