Carcassone is the prefecture of Aude, a French department of the south of France. The town is located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean which gives it a strategic location. The climate is a Mediterranean one; summer is dry and hot, winter and autumn are mild and springtime is a bit rainy. Snowfalls are rare (about 7 days a year between December and March) and melts quickly.
Carcassonne is known for the City of Carcassonne (“Cité de Carcassonne” in French), a very well-preserved medieval architectural site listed as part of the Unesco World Heritage since 1997. Carcassonne is actually two towns in one. The Cité de Carcassonne, usually called the upper part of the town, is situated on a high promontory surrounded by thick ramparts since the Middle-Ages. The old town really expanded outside the city’s walls only in 1247; this is called the lower part of the town or Bastide Saint-Louis. This part of the town is much more modern than the other. From historical visits to sport escapades with quiet moments next to a lake or on the Canal du Midi, every type of activities is possible.
The industrial economy is limited and the heavy industry absent; that’s why the town is currently trying to attract new industries. This is the same for agriculture which is limited to wine-growing. However, the craft industry is developed in the town as well as tourism (significant economic resource thanks to the Cité de Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi). The town thus improved its welcome with numerous restaurants, luxury hotels, campsites, B & B, youth hostels…
Carcassonne is made of a majority of ancient houses often built with stones. However, since 1999, more and more houses have been built, so you can either pitch on an old typical house or a new one. 88.3% of properties are main homes divided at 53.9% in individual houses and at 46.1% in apartments (against respectively 59.1% and 48% in the Languedoc-Roussillon region).
A property in Carcassonne is sold €1,595 / sq m (€3,197 / sq m in France on average) and rentals are worth €7.71 / sq m a month (€12.22 / sq m / month in France).
Most properties possess 4 rooms and there are thus few studio flats (little demand for small properties). As a result, the town holds large properties due to the non restrictive space, which enables this type of constructions. If you are looking for an investment (buy-to-let) or a second home, it may be attractive for you to buy a studio as there is no competition. On the contrary, if you are looking for a main home (or a second home as well), you will be pleased to get a large land.
To get updated info about the property prices in the Aude departement, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Carcassonne has a lot going for it and it would be just not possible to give an comprehensive list; it is far enough south so the weather is mild; the city is a world heritage site (twice!); gastronomy is worth tasting…
History and monuments: as already explained, the Cité de Carcassonne has been a World Heritage site since 1997 and the highest touristy place of the 2000-year-old town since more than two million visitors come there each year amongst which 300,000 visit the castle and its ramparts. It is the second most visited place of interest in France. Made up of 52 towers, the city has 2 surrounding walls for a total of 3 kilometres of ramparts. This medieval set is unique in France due to its size and to its conservation state. The castle of earls and the Saint-Nazaire basilica are both part of the old walled city of Carcassonne. The castle of earls is a stronghold which used to house Carcassonne’s viscounts. This location soon became a place for powerful people. You can visit the castle and have access to the ramparts all year long. You may also discover the lapidary museum and attend a continuous show on the City’s restoration during the 19th century. The Saint-Nazaire basilica is a Roman church dating from the 11th century. Outside, it is made of sandstone. Inside, you may see two different styles (Roman and Gothic) on the stained glass windows, on the sculptures and on all the decors of the church.
Gastronomy: Carcassonne’s cuisine is mainly based on farm produce such as vegetables and poultry (typical cuisine from the South West of France). Thus you may taste some of the specialities of Carcassonne in the town centre such as knuckle of ham, conflict of poultry gizzard, conflict of duck and goose, artichoke salad, cassoulet (pork skin, haricot beans and meat - typically pork sausages, pork, goose, duck, partridge and sometimes mutton -), French or broad bean fricassee, fish soup… Several vineyards around Carcassonne produce local wines which are generally used to make local dishes such as stew cooking/casserole cooking or wine stew.
Australian park: just 3 minutes from Carcassonne’s medieval centre you can discover Australia over an area of 5 hectares! Local craft industry, traditional paintings, gold diggers, native Australians, boomerangs, you will enter into another world where fauna is amazing and where you may attend demos, play the traditional games, pan for gold, blow in a didgeridoo (a wind instrument originally played by native Australians) and gaze at several kangaroo species! There is also a picnic area and a very special nursery in which your kids can come face-to-face with baby kangaroos!!
Cultural heritage: two theatres were set up in Carcassonne. The Jean-Deschamps theatre is an open-air theatre located in the heart of the medieval town and offers a special setting for the city festival (“le festival de la cité” in French) which occurs every summer. The second one, the Jean-Alary local theatre was built during the interwar years (inside, the painted decors are antique) and is now a World Heritage site. Carcassonnes’s most famous museum is certainly the Fine Arts Museum situated in the lower town. It offers an western painting collection of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, an earthenware collection, tapestries and art objects.
Transport links: Carcassonne is located on the major communication way between Toulouse and the Mediterranean coast. The A61 motorway is accessible by the south of the town and leads to Toulouse or Montpellier. By train, Carcassonne is reachable thanks to the Toulouse-Sète line (via Narbonne) or to the Carcassonne-Rivesaltes line (via Narbonne). By plane, you may easily reach England (London, Liverpool, Bournemouth and Nottingham), Ireland (Dublin, Cork and Shannon), Scotland (Edinburgh) and Belgium (Charleroi) thanks to Ryanair airline. As regards public transports, 11 bus lines furrow the town and lead to the airport and the railway station amongst others.
Mas: this is a traditional farmhouse originally from the Provence region of France, usually self-sufficient and made of inexpensive local materials (stones and wood). The size depends on the wealth of the owner and the number of occupants. Nowadays, mas in France are sought-after and are in general transformed into holiday homes.
Stone houses: most ancient properties in Carcassonne are built with stones and thus give an authentic charm to the town. With wooden shutters and generally symmetrical, you can either find a property with a pool, a terrace and a garden as second home or a stone-built village house to buy and let if you are looking for an investment.
Click here for more info about the Languedoc-Roussillon Architecture.
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