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Carcassonne car hire tips
Where to pick up your car
The most popular car hire location is Carcassonne Airport (CCF), just over 10 mins' drive from the centre (about 5km).
Top car rental brands
The most popular car rental brands in Carcassonne are Europcar, Firefly, Thrifty, Alamo and Avis.
Warmest month: July (23°C)
Coldest month: January (6°C)
Side of road
Hire a car in Carcassonne
Old meets new in the city of Carcassonne, creating a modern fairytale set in the south of France.
The fortified medieval city of Carcassonne sits on a rocky hilltop overlooking the more modern addition of the 'lower town'. Together, the Cité and Ville Basse have made Carcassonne one of France's most popular tourist destinations. The walled city is even a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy a long weekend of seeing all the sights that Carcassonne has to offer and learn more about the important role the city has played throughout history.
You don't necessarily need to have a hire car to explore Carcassonne itself, but there are many villages and towns nearby that you won't want to miss out on visiting. The city is surrounded by stunning countryside dotted with pretty little villages, such as Saissac and Lagrasse.
Highlights of the Cité
The medieval city is the must-see of Carcassonne. As you walk round you'll see double-walled fortifications and the numerous attractions based within them.
At the heart of the Cité is the castle Château Comal, which was built in the 12th century. It has many towers and ramparts that give breathtaking views out across the modern town, Aude River and the Canal du Midi.
Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus
This Roman Catholic minor basilica is a national monument and a stunning example of Gothic-Romanesque architecture. Take some time to appreciate the stained glass windows and serene atmosphere as you walk round the small church.
Another national monument, this 13th century building was originally a parish church and was elevated to cathedral status in 1803. Still a working place of worship, if you're lucky you'll be treated to the sounds of practising choral groups.
Canal du Midi
Just outside the walls of the Cité is a stretch of the mighty Canal du Midi. The tree-lined canal banks are perfect for taking a walk down and watching as boaters come past on the water.
Carcassonne driving tips
- Once you've collected your hire car from Carcassonne Airport, it's just a 10-minute drive into the centre of the city.
- You'll need to park your hire car in the lower town during the day throughout summer, as cars aren't allowed within the walls of the Cité.
- If you want to visit nearby places of interest, such as the Cathar castles in the Corbières, you'll need a car to get you there.
- Carcassonne is within a wine-producing region, so you won't have to drive far to sample some local tipples!
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Money saving tips
Many of the shops within the Cité are designed for tourists and therefore sell the usual commercialised souvenirs that can be expensive. You'll find more bargains and overall better value for money in the shops of the modern town.
When to visit
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Carcassonne – as summers can be very hot and the city packed with tourists. There is a popular Christmas market, but you'll find many of the city's attractions will be closed or have limited opening hours in winter.
Times of day
You may find that exploring Carcassonne is easiest early in the mornings or later on in the evenings. Coaches of tourists tend to arrive around lunchtime most days and you might find yourself competing for space!
Best for shopping
Bastide Saint Louis
The modern lower town has several markets to browse. The central square, Place Carnot, is full of stalls bursting with a range of fresh produce and local delicacies. On a Saturday morning it's a great place to sit and people-watch as you sip a coffee and soak up the lively Mediterranean atmosphere.