Carcassonne is a walled city of about 120 residents, and is called the greatest fortress city of France. It is one of the few double-walled cities and that one of the reasons that it was extremely secure and hard to overtake. It is split into 2 parts, "La Cite" or the fortress and then the lower city .. we never went into the lower city and only spent time in the walled medieval city. The inner fortifications were built in the 5th century by the Visigoths and then more walls were built in the 12th century by Louis IX and Philip the Bold.

Unfortunately for us, we happened to get there on the only day of our vacation where it was 1 degree celcius and snowing! A large number of shops were closed and there were only a few brave souls wandering around.

Our hotel was quite nice and our room was outside of the main building in this little courtyard. As you can see, this is us arriving in the snow and you can see the snow on the ground as well as falling. BRRRRR .. we didn't pack for winter!

This is the site of a previous church, which no longer exists.

City walls

This is Basilique St-Nazaire and it was one of the few things open in the snow. As normal, you get a view of the inside of the church as well as the organ.

The church dates from the 11th century with stained glass windows from the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries including 2 rose windows.

More ramparts

Susan huddled inside one of the entrances. We ended up parking outside of the walls although in theory, our hotel had parking inside. However, we had to wait until 6pm to bring the car in, and we thought it was wiser not to after seeing the experienced hotel shuttle driver going in and out of the city and these doors. We preferred to leave the car outside and not pay Avis for damaging both sides of the car when we nailed the stone walls :-)

Hotel de la Cite, which used to be a palace for whenever the Bishop happened to be in town. We went inside and the ground floor has been restored to literally the 18th century and it has a sign on the wall that talks about how it has been certified as authentic from that era. Quite impressive.

This is the Chateau Comtal, or the Dukes Palace and is a restored 12th century fortress. Since it was raining and most of the tour was outside, we skipped going through this, which is also the only way to walk the ramparts.

There are (or were) 22 wells in the city, and this (as the sign behind would indicate) is the "grand well".

And what is a vacation without La Cure Gourmand?? This is a cookie and candy place we first found in Strasbourg and they have locations everywhere!

I really like a couple of the cookies.