Castelnaudary travel guide

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Visit Castelnaudary (Occitanie, France)

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Castelnaudary is a town in the Aude department of Languedoc-Roussillon, between Toulouse and Carcassonne.

A pleasant town to explore, the most interesting part of the town for visitors centres around a large port area on the Canal du Midi called the Grand Bassin.

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France This Way review: Castelnaudary would not usually be the centre of a holiday in France, but makes an interesting diversion - for example if you are travelling along the motorway between Touloue and Carcassonne.

Castelnaudary is an important port on the Canal du Midi and you will see lots of pleasure boats tied up here in the port: the canal is very popular with visitors taking a barge holiday in France.

The section of the town around the Grand Bassin - the old 'canal port' - is scenically the most impressive part of Castelnaudary, although the rest of this pleasant yet untouristy town also deserves to be explored. The port has been awarded the 'pavillon bleu' award (also called the 'blue flag' award, this is more commonly associated with beaches than inland harbours).

Statue in Castelnaudary town centre

The old town is centred around the Place de Verdun, historically the market place of Castelnaudary, and still a shady square surrounded by shops and cafes.

The square and surrounding streets contain some interesting and decorative 18th - 19th century grand townhouses (the Castelnaudary tourist office can provide you with a useful guide to where the best examples can be seen).

Much the most important monument here is the Collegiale Church of Saint-Michel, a substantial 13th century church originally built in the roman style of architecture popular at that time although numerous later modifications up to the 19th century have resulted in the modern structure being largely in the gothic style.


Another interesting religious monument in Castelnaudary is the Chapel Notre-Dame de la Pitié, which contains some exceptional wooden carvings depicting the life of Christ, while the building known as the Présidial was the 16th century centre of the courts in Castelnaudary (and now contains a small local museum).

A short stroll up the hill through the town is the Moulin de Cugarel. This restored 17th century windmill is well worth visiting above all because it has very far-reaching views across the countryside and a table d'orientation to explain what you are looking at.

The region around Castelnaudary once had numerous windmills (the Aude department is one of the windiest in France) and the department is now an important centre for wind produced energy using the much larger modern aeolian windmills.

Fountain in Castelnaudary

Cathars: Historically Castelnaudary is said to have been the birthplace of the cathars, a religious movement popular in the south of France in the 12th century until it was brutally suppressed by the Albigensian crusade (see cathars for information). The town fell in the hands of the cathars in 1211, to be recaptured by the catholics in 1221.

Cassoulet: More importantly the town is also said to be the birthplace of cassoulet, the delicious local dish made primarily from confit de canard and white beans. Be sure to try it in a restaurant when you are travelling near Castelnaudary, it is one of the highlights of traditional French cuisine and in the town itself there are a lot of restaurants offering cassoulet on the menu.

Places to visit near Castelnaudary

Boat trips around the bassin and along the canal du midi are a very popular excursion from the town, with excursions typically lasting one - two hours.

If you take 'the long route' between Castelnaudary and Carcassonne you can visit several picturesque villages such as Revel, Saissac, Soreze and Montolieu, each with their own particular charm. The tiny village of La Pomarede, with its imposing medieval castle, also merits a détour.

You can find more travel ideas in the Aude guide and the Languedoc-Roussillon guide.

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Photos of Castelnaudary

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Map of Castelnaudary and places nearby


Visit near Castelnaudary with France This Way reviews

La Pomarede

La Pomarede

Very tiny so don't travel for ages to get here but if you are passing the village of La Pomarede it is a lovely place for a stroll and a picnic

La Pomarede guide


The large arcaded square in the centre of Revel contains one of the biggest medieval market halls to be found in France

Revel guide


The abbey-school and numerous ancient colombage houses are among the interesting finds in the village of Soreze

Soreze guide


In Saissac the highlights include the views from the top of the village and the castle at the bottom of the village

Saissac guide


Built on the edge of a deep ravine, Montolieu is well known as a centre for historic books and book production

Montolieu guide


In Mirepoix it is the beautifully preserved centre of the bastide town that is the highlight for visitors

Mirepoix guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Aude

Address: Castelnaudary, Carcassonne, Languedoc-Roussillon, 11400, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 43.3192, longitude 1.95444

Plan your visit to Castelnaudary, Aude

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Revel: recommended detour (16 km)
  • Parc aux Bambous: remarkable garden (25 km)
  • Jardin et parc du château de Loubens: remarkable garden (31 km)
  • Camon: most beautiful village (33 km)
  • Carcassonne: heritage site (35 km)
  • Carcassonne City: grand site of france (35 km)
  • Cité de Carcassonne: site of natural beauty (35 km)
  • Limoux: recommended detour (36 km)
  • Jardin de l'Évêché: remarkable garden (39 km)
  • Gouffre de Cabrespine: site of natural beauty (41 km)
  • Fontaine Intermittente de Fontestorbes: site of natural beauty (46 km)
  • Jardin Royal de Toulouse: remarkable garden (51 km)

Market days in Castelnaudary, France

Regular market(s) are held in Castelnaudary each Monday all day. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Castelnaudary (Francais)