Carcassonne is one of France’s most famous walled cities. Its image is used frequently so when visiting the Languedoc region of France, Carcassonne seemed to be the perfect place to stay. Close to both Limoux (famous for its wines, including being the birthplace of sparking wine), and Minervios, home of delicious reds, Carcassonne allowed us easy access. Villefranche de Conflent on the other hand was a small (244 people to be exact) walled ‘city’ that @benton8tor was determined to see because of its historic and beautiful pink stone. We only spent an afternoon in VilleFranche however but that is enough time.
Carcassonne is very beautiful and very touristy.
In fact 1 day is definitely enough time. Carcassonne is much larger than the old walled city but if you are going to Carcassonne you are going to see the walled city. It is full of shops, restaurants, and hotels. Many of them are very touristy bordering on cheesy but there are some amazing places to eat, interesting items to but, and local specialties to try… if you keep looking. My parents happened to be with us when we traveled to Carcassonne and my mother is an excellent shopping scout, bordering n full blown shopaholic. She managed to find local specialties including soaps to buy. In fact we noticed her staggering towards us under the weight of many bags. She had bought a bunch of things including soap, she has a weakness for French soap.
‘How many did you buy?’ my dad asks. ‘Seven” she says. I am skeptical and ask her how many she really bought. 13 she answers. I ask again. 21 she replies. Satisfied but thinking it is a bit much we start walking down to find a restaurant and I don’t believe her so I ask again. 27 she sighs. I still have no idea if she bought more.
However as good as she is at shopping, she is terrible at picking restaurants. That is @Benton8tors strength and Carcassonne’s wall boast surprisingly many good choices. We lucked out each of our 3 nights in Carcassonne with remarkably good restaurants. If you are in Carcassonne though you are probably going to try the cassoulet, one of the most famous regional dishes. We had great cassoulet at Les Terraces de cite http://www.lesterrassesdelacite.com/fr/carte-et-menus and at Le Trouvere (which had a super old coaching inn vibe that I loved) https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g187151-d1207632-Reviews-Le_Trouvere-Carcassonne_Aude_Occitanie.html. But you will need a break from cassoulet so head over to Brasserie Donjon for a break with some lighter choices http://www.cite-hotels.com/nos-restaurants/restaurant-brasserie-donjon/
Food was all well and good but I was there for wine. Not having a clue where I was going but knowing I could set the GPS for Minervios and we’d be sure to find some wineries. Well that worked but I would suggest doing research before as I made Ben drive around aimlessly for a couple of hours before finding a tiny little winery. But the winery was well well worth the trip! Small and the tasting in a kitchen, these Minervios reds were amazing. Minervios was definitely worth exploring.
That said we were off to Limoux for its famous sparking wines. After the quaint tastings in Minervios that were so successful we arrived in Limoux at the Maison Antech. It is the complete opposite of the Minervois tasting. Modern and beautiful, @benton8tor decided the wine couldn’t be any good. Luckily we all ignored him and after the tastings, he too was a convert.
The cremants were particularly tasting with subtle toasty notes but still clean and refreshing. http://www.antech-limoux.fr/contents.php?la=en&site=oui&sp=l
Villefranche de Conflent is tiny. A small walled city in South West France near the Mediterranean, Pyrenees, and Spain, Villefranche is easy to miss. A walled city smaller than a North American Shopping mall. It is beautiful. famous for its pink stone lining the streets and building, Villefranche de Conflent is a sight to behold. It also boasts famous pottery (sorry suitcase) and some great restaurants including le patio with a fabulous gazpacho, and great local wines https://www.lepatio-66.com/ and the more famous and tasty Auberge Saint Paul. We didn’t spend a lot of time here and you don’t need to but it is worth the trip.
Overall the walled cities are interesting, fun but don’t plan a ton of time there. Go to the countryside, try the local restaurants an scout out some of the very underrated Languedoc wines. You won’t be disappointed.