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Carcassonne is an incredible city, steeped in history, surrounded by beautiful countryside and acres of vineyards it is a unique place to visit for a city break. We checked into a well-run hotel located in the countryside at Saint Martin.
The owners Alain and Isabel manage the family friendly, Hotel La Bastide Saint Martin, which is perfect for a relaxing break in a quiet location and only a short drive to the medieval city. Our room had beautiful French windows overlooking the rose garden and beyond toward the nearby picturesque Chateau Saint Martin.
It was nicely decorated with egg shell blue walls, traditional French furniture and marble and tiled floors. The bedroom was large with a spotlessly clean private bathroom and shower with lots of luxury toiletries. Did you know that more and more people are now booking hotels so they can get ideas for their own interior design at home? According to www.Booking.com more than half of travellers return from holiday so enthused by it, that they are inspired to undertake interior design work to their own home! Holiday accommodation with great interior design creates a more memorable experience for the majority of global travellers. More and more travellers seem to want to stay in accommodation with different interior design to their own home, to experience different styles that they wouldn’t be brave enough to replicate in their own home.
I can believe this, having been impressed by many of the hotels and their manicured gardens over the years it’s hard not to bring back some ideas, but some can be far too outrageous to trial on our Victorian home! However, I tend to focus on bed linen and with this hotel’s luxury Egyptian cotton sheets; this was a win for me!
The hotel has a wonderful outdoor heated swimming pool, large enough to work off the excellent breakfast provided by the hotel.
Fresh bread and buttered croissants, an assortment of cheese, ham and eggs, yoghurts and pancakes not to mention the freshly squeezed juices; it’s a feast to set you up until you take a late lunch in town! We were really pleased to find this hotel though which offered a warm family-run establishment.
The Cite de Carcassonne was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. It is made up of a collection of medieval buildings that are unique in Europe with regards to their size and their remarkable condition. The City is ringed by two belts of ramparts, an outer wall from the XIII century that stretches for 1650m and an interior wall that dates back to the IV century. The collection of buildings is made up of the Comtal Chateau which houses the gem merchants’ museum, the barbicans, a basilica, a drawbridge and 52 distinctive towers.
We were given a guided one hour tour with a costumed Knight of the XIII century. Meeting at the front of the Hotel Donjon in the medieval city, he enthusiastically showed us around describing the castle, details of the historical measures taken by the castle guards and defendants to ensure their safety when under attack! Some of the attractions are not for the faint hearted as we discovered when we visited the Museums of Inquisition and Instruments of Torture. Here you will find a crude collection of instruments dating back to the 12th century, including the 200 years of history that tells of persecution and the extermination of Cathares and Heretics not forgetting their horrific journey from trial to be burnt at the stake.
With over two million visitors a year, the old part of the city gets very busy, therefore it’s recommended that you visit the castle as early as possible. It’s particularly pleasant to visit in early evening when you can enjoy a spectacular sunset with a picnic overlooking the city. Take a walk to the centre of town, the Bastide St Louis, via the bridge, Le Pont-Vieux completed around 1320. From the bridge you will see the castle in all its glory overlooking the town. The centre is lively with many shops, cafes and restaurants. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings there is a fruit and vegetable market in the main square of the Bastide Saint Louis, the Place Carnot. Surrounding the square are cafes and bars so it’s perfect for people watching!
Carcassonne is on the famous Canal du Midi which too is classed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The canal runs through the centre it boasts 63 locks, 126 bridges, 55 aqueducts, 7 canal-tunnels, 6 dams and 1 tunnel. It’s possible to hire barge style boats without a permit and enjoy a cruising break for several days from the city.
Nearby La Cavayere Lake attracts walkers and nature lovers here you will discover wetlands, woodlands and fallow fields. Pedalos, mini gold, boules and beach volleyball courts all add to the attraction of the lake.
Carcassonne is famous for its gastronomy and beautiful wine. It has three Michelin starred restaurants to choose from or there are many traditional French restaurants where you can find typical dishes including grilled fish, local ham, terrine or escalope of duck foie gras.
The most famous and tasty of all their dishes is the unmissable Cassoulet its history dates back to the XVI century when beans arrived by ship from the Americas. Cassoulet is made with white beans, pork meat and rind, sausages and goose or duck confit and green beans it is served in a terracotta plate. The best place to try this dish is at the Chateau Saint Martin a formal restaurant located next to Hotel La Bastide Saint Martin.
Carcassonne and its Cite Medieval are the jewels of the Languedoc. They are seen as the capital and gateway to the vineyards of the AUDE department. You will not fail to notice the acres and acres of vineyards!
Look out for the name, Minervois. The Minervois region is located to the north-west and stretches across endless terraces, producing distinguished reds as well as white wines and rose that are fresh, rich and aromatic.
If you would like a city break with a lots of history, a dash of fine wine and excellent food with a good helping of rested nights in a lovey hotel, head to Carcassonne for a wonderful weekend.
Where to Stay:
Booking.com connects travellers with the world’s largest selection of incredible places to stay, including everything from apartments, vacation homes, and family-run B&Bs to 5-star luxury resorts, tree houses and even igloos. The Booking.com website and app, offer 1,683,037 properties, and cover 128,481 destinations in 228 countries worldwide.
Hotel La Bastide Saint Martin - Book: www.Booking.com
Double rooms are from £79 per night, Breakfast £12 per person. Car hire is advised or use taxis to get into the centre.
Where to eat:
La Cantine De St Roch, La Place Carnot
La Barbacane, 1 Michelin Star (situated in Hotel de la Cite)
The Domaine d’Auriacm 1 Michelin Star
Le Parc Franc Putelat, 2 Michelin Star
Chateau Saint Martin (Cassoulet) Tel; +00 33 (4) 68710973
How to get there:
Flights with Ryan Air to Carcassonne, only 30 minutes drive from the hotel
More information about Carcassonne:
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Press play to see just some of Kate's pictures of her stay at Carcassonne