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Carcassonne

Traveling through Languedoc, this is a "must-see" for kids. "Carcassonne is every child's dream of a walled city," says a friend.
Carcassonne began as a Roman city (Carcaso), more defenses were added by the Visigoths, and the citadel was really fortified in the 10th-13th centuries. The city was the target of two major sieges, but withstood the attacks. In the 19th century, Carcassonne was restored, and it's one our favorite castles in Europe for kids to explore.

On our blog: Tips for Visiting Carcassonne.

Carcassonne Photo Album
    The "Cité"– Today, the Cité is one of the largest of it's kind – two-walled stronghold, with numerous towers and ramparts, enclosing a medieval town, castle and church.
    The 12th century Chateau Comtal is a fortified castle, with dry moat, bridge, watchtowers and walls. Moat is perfect grassy area where kids can run around.
    Inside the castle is a museum with model of the fortress, carved stone artifacts - statue of a medieval knight dressed in armor, Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus, Roman era portraits of people and animals.
    Walking through the rooms, imagine the tall tower where Trencavel family lived, and facilities such as kitchen, bakery, chapel, stables, forge, watchtowers and arsenal with war machines.
    From the castle, explore the North Ramparts, or West Ramparts.
    North Ramparts – Start at the large castle courtyard with tree in the center (Cour du Midi), follow the walls, some of the towers are 4th century Roman. You'll pass through the Tresau Tower, where the royal treasure was stored, exit at Narbonne Gate.
    West Ramparts – Begin at Cour d' Honneur courtyard. These wall walks are medieval era, including a tower for the Inquisition. Exit the walls near Saint-Nazaire Cathedral, or keep going all the way around to the Narbonne Gate.
    Saint-Nazaire Basilica, Romanesque and Gothic style church with lovely stained glass windows, tombs of medieval bishops, statues of Virgin Mary, and the apostles.
    School Museum (Musee de l'Ecole ) – Visit the School Museum (3 Rue du Plo) to see a 19th - early 20th century century classroom and try writing with an old fashioned pen
    Narbonne Gate (Port Narbonnaise)
    The main entrance to the city on the east side is dramatic – two big guard towers with slits, where archers stood ready to release their arrows. Statue is legendary Dame Carcas, a brave woman who defended the city.
    - Petit Train de la Cite – Take the tram around the medieval city, a good introduction to the Cite, gives you a sense of how big an area is enclosed in the walls.
    - Tour the inner walls in a horse drawn carriage.
    Below the fortress, cross over the Old Bridge (Pont Vieux), linking the Cité with the town or follow paths along the River Aude.
    In town (Ville Basse), walk the tow paths along the Canal du Midi and watch the locks in operation.
    Outside of Carcassonne, at Cavayere Lake (Lac de la Cavayere), go swimming and pedal boating.
family hotels carcassonne

There's lots of fun things to do in and around Carcassone, but you'll need a fun place to stay. Here's our list of best family hotels for Carcassonne:

Carcassonne family hotels
kids books carcassonne
     
knightology  
Knightology
Dugald Steer

Go on an adventure with the knights of history arms and armor, famous battles, sieges of castles, jousts, tournaments, knights of legend, the greatest knight of all. A jeweled shield glows on the cover, inside on every page are fold-out maps, drawings, illustrations, a golden chalice, plus puzzle to solve. (Oversize picture book)

 

     
DKfindout! Castles
Phillip Steele

Essential guide to castles – different types of castles, defenses and weapons, real-life trebuchet, great hall, dungeons, lords and ladies, entertainments, foods and feasts, peasant life, timeline of castle age, illustrated with detailed photos, maps, models and medieval artifacts. (Picture book)

 

 
     
 
Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections Castle
Richard Platt, Stephen Biesty

Wonderful details of a 14th century castle, how it was built, supplying the castle with food, what was it like when it was attacked, how did the lord of the castle live, feasting, tournaments, all illustrated with fascinating miniature scenes. (Picture book)

 

     
Knights and Castles
(Magic Tree House Research Guide)
Will Osborne, Mary Pope Osborne

A nonfiction companion book to The Knight at Dawn, find out how castles were built, fairs and feasts, tournaments, battles, arms and armor. Packed with historical details and drawings, perfect to bring on your trip. (Easy reader)

 

 
     
 
The Hawk of the Castle
Danna Smith, Bagram Ibatoulline

A falconer trains a hawk to hunt, preparing the hawk with bells, once outdoors, he releases the bird, and watches the hawk soar in the air, hunting for food. Gorgeous illustrations of this ancient sport. (Picture book)

 

(More children's books on other France pages)
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