Count's Castle in Carcassone Citadel (Chateau Comtal)
Visitors to Château Comtal can explore on a guided or self-guided tour, learn more about the history of the cité and the counts of Carcassonne, and admire exhibitions of medieval art and artifacts. The highlight of a visit is the chance to walk the ramparts, which run for 1.9 miles (3 kilometers), including four city gates and 52 towers, affording views over the citadel below.
A walking tour of the cité of Carcassonne is a popular way to explore the medieval citadel, and booking skip-the-line tickets to the château is highly recommended, especially in peak season. Half-day tours to the cité of Carcassonne run from nearby Toulouse, while full-day tours often combine a visit with other regional attractions, such as the Chateaux de Lastours castles or the Canal du Midi, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to Know Before You Go
Admission tickets to Château Comtal include access to the ramparts; entrance to the citadel itself is free.
Plan at least two hours to visit the castle and walk the ramparts.
Some of the best views of the castle and citadel are from afar—head into the modern town of Carcassonne and look up at the hilltop citadel from the banks of the River Aude.
Audio guides are available in multiple languages, including English.
There are several restrooms, shops, and restaurants in the citadel, as well as a visitor information office, an ATM, and paid parking outside the city gates.
Some areas of the château and citadel are wheelchair-accessible, but steps and steep cobblestone lanes render some areas off-limits.
How to Get There
Château Comtal is part of the Cité de Carcassonne, located just southeast of the modern town of Carcassonne. To reach the cité, walk uphill for about 20 minutes or take a bus, taxi, or the Little Train (summer season only) to the entrance gates. The closest gate to the château, on the citadel’s western edge, is the Aude Gate, from which it’s a short walk to the entrance (inside the city walls).
When to Get There
Open daily all year round, the château can get extremely busy, especially in July and August—aim for an early morning visit to beat the crowds. The most atmospheric time to visit is on Bastille Day (July 14), when a fireworks display takes place over the medieval citadel. Budget travelers can make the most of reduced-price admission to the castle and ramparts for the last hour of the day (although you’ll have to hurry to fit it all in).
Exploring the Cité de Carcassonne
Sprawling on a hilltop overlooking the River Aude, the Cité de Carcassonne is a huge medieval citadel and one of the most-visited historic sites in France. After visiting the château and walking the ramparts, visitors can explore the citadel on a walking tour or take a horse-drawn-carriage ride around the tiltyard. Inside the towering city walls, highlights include the Saint-Nazaire Basilica, known for its magnificent stained-glass windows; the 20-century Theatre de la Cité; a museum of medieval torture instruments; and the impressive 13th-century Narbonnaise Gate.