Deep in the rural sprawl of Southern France lies a place like no other; the fortified city of Carcassonne. It’s actually a tale of two cities. The first dates back to the Middle Ages and is filled with typically French cafés, restaurants, and bakeries lining its charmingly atmospheric streets. The second is a towering, majestic citadel which looms large over its other half and provides one of the most striking tourist experiences in all of mainland Europe.
‘La Cité’ (the Citadel), as it’s known by locals, is the second most popular tourist spot in France, after the unbeatable Eiffel Tower. Reportedly an inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the fairy tale turrets, spires and cobbled alleyways are immediately evocative, and they helped cement Carcassonne’s place as one of France’s premier UNESCO World Heritage Sites.