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I learned a secret about Carcassonne France; something that the majority of the approximately 4 million people who visit each year don’t know. In order to fully appreciate and take in all of the wonderfulness that is Carcassonne France, you have to spend the night there. These tips will help you to find Carcassonne hotels on a budget.
This post will give you some ideas about how to plan your trip to Carcassonne France on a budget and still experience all of the wonders that the city has to offer.
Had I just had the experience of walking around in the herd of tourists during the day, past endless rows of overpriced restaurants and tacky souvenir shops, I would have gotten the impression that Carcassonne was nice, but perhaps not worth the hassle (especially considering that the South of France is filled with beautiful, post card worthy cities and villages).
I am very glad that we stuck around until after the sun went down.
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This medieval walled city becomes a completely different place after the hordes of photo snapping tourists leave.
The harried feeling of walking around in the endless crowds that fill the city during the day is replaced by a relaxed, laid back feeling of “joie de vivre” at night, when the air cools and the lights come on illuminating the stunning castle walls.
Sleeping in Carcassonne Hotels on a Budget:
There are quite a few Carcassonne hotels and bed and breakfast type places inside the walls of the Cite Medieval in various price ranges. If you are on a budget, you are in luck, as there are a couple of great budget options inside or near the city walls
TIP: When booking Carcassonne hotels, I think that you will be happiest staying inside or close to the walls of the Cite Medieval (Medieval City) in Carcasonne. There is also a newer part of Carcassonne, so pay attention to where your Carcassonne hotel is located.
Hostel Carcassonne: A safe and solid choice and conveniently located INSIDE the walls of the Cite Medieval, the provides a convenient base for your explorations.
As a member of the Hosteling International network, this hostel provides the standardized experience that one comes to expect from HI hostels: a clean, basic room in a safe, somewhat institutional facility with a family oriented atmosphere.
Some nice features of this hostel include a garden courtyard to relax in, breakfast included, as well as a common area with a bar open in the evenings. The best part? The location of the hostel puts you right at the heart of your own personal fairy tale once the tourist buses depart!
Notre Dame de l’Abbaye This hostel’s main features are a clean room at an incredibly cheap price just outside of the main gate to the Cite Medieval (about a 5 minute walk).
Notre Dame de l’Abbaye offers private rooms as well as dorm room accommodations Other than the price and the awesome location, some other nice features of this hostel include good, cheap parking (3 euros), free wifi and a decent breakfast for an additional 5 euros.
TIP: Make sure that you reconfirm what kind of room you have reserved. We had reserved a room in a four person dorm through a third party booking site, and when we arrived, we were in a 40 person dorm room. It wasn’t a big deal (it was Bastille Day and I was just happy to have a room close by) but it was a bit of a surprise.
Planning your Time in Carcassonne:
I suggest arriving late in the afternoon. You will be coming in just as the majority of tourists in the city are heading out. Check in to your accommodations stow your stuff and head out to snap some pictures of the incredible Cite Medieval and its windy, cobbled streets.
Plan for dinner at Restuarant Adelaide in the Cite Medieval. They offer a three course set menu including appetizer, entree and dessert for 14.50 euros. Wine was also of good quality and a good value. Make a reservation ahead of time for a table on the terrace with a spectacular evening view of the lit up castle walls!
Cassoulet is a regional food specialty. It is a hearty stew made out of beans, duck and sausage. The Cassoulet at Restaurant Adelaide was great; the duck meat was falling off of the bone tender and the stew was well seasoned and filling. My traveling companion ended up begging for pieces of my duck as he enjoyed my entree more than his.
After dinner, plan on putting on your walking shoes and heading outside of the city walls for some spectacular photo opportunities. The whole wall around the Cite Medieval is lit up at night.
We walked around the whole city, and this took about 2 hours. We took some great pictures and it was a nice, leisurely after dinner walk.
If you are not worn out at this point, a glass of wine at one of the endless sidewalk restaurants and perhaps a second dessert would be a lovely way to wrap up the evenings’ activities.
TIP: If you are a hard core photo taker who wants every possible shot, wear some hiking boots. Some of the paths around the castle wall that offer the best photo ops are also steep and sometimes rocky.
If you are just planning on seeing one part of the castle wall at night, I would suggest starting by the main gate, as this is one of the best spots for photos. Work your way down to one of the secondary gates and make a loop back to where you are staying.
In the morning, you can get up early and take some last photos before the crowds descend.
Once the buses come, the city turns back into a pumpkin and it becomes and entirely different and more stressful place. If you are staying for more than one night, perhaps you should consider taking a day trip to one of the nearby towns and returning again in the afternoon, once the crowds thin.