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How to have the perfect campervan trip to medieval Carcassonne

14 Jun

The medieval citadel of Carcassonne in southern France is a must-see destination. But can you park an RV, motorhome or campervan anywhere near this incredibly popular tourist destination? Read on to find out…

Carcassonne medieval citadel's ramparts

We can answer that Carcassonne parking question with our recent, personal experience. We just spent a couple of days in the region (recently renamed “Occitanie”), so thought we would share our most recent findings with you for visiting Carcassonne in a campervan.

Happily, we found RVs of all sizes are surprisingly welcome and well catered for considering what a busy spot this is.

Road sign in Carcassonne

This way to Carcassonne’s motorhome car park: P1

At many busy tourist attractions, parking for RVs can be miles away from the entrance. However, at Carcassonne provision has been made for motorhomes in a car park just 400 metres from the citadel. Be warned, though, there is absolutely no signage to guide you as you approach the city, and the first two car parks we tried had 2-metre-high barriers – definitely no good in a 3-metre-high motorhome!

We found the correct car park on our third attempt. It is Car Park 1 at Chemin de Montlegun, Carcassonne – follow signs for “P1” or for coaches and buses – as pictured right. We parked there for just under three hours and paid €6.50.

You could stay on the city campsite, or its adjacent “Aire de Service“, which is just below the citadel, about a 20-minute uphill walk. The campsite looks decent (see the entrance pictured below).

The entrance to La Cité Carcassonne Camping – municipal campsite and aire de service

However, we chose to stay in a more idyllic, rural spot. We spent three nights at Domaine d’Arnauteille, a Yelloh Village campsite in the village of Montclar (about a 20-minute drive from Carcassonne), in the heart of Cathar country.

Swimming pool complex at campsite near Carcassonne

View from our pitch of the wonderful pool complex at Yelloh Village Campsite d’Arnauteille near Carcassonne

This is our third stay on a “Yelloh Village” site.  We were very impressed and will use them more often, as they really do seem to offer consistently high standards. This stunning rural site has large, shaded pitches with great views, a nice little bar and restaurant, immaculate showers/loos, plus a really lovely, terraced pool complex (shown above). There are also some lovely hill walks around the site and the staff are smiley and accommodating.

Yelloh Village Campsite D'Arnauteille near Cacassonne

The countryside views from the Yelloh Village Campsite D’Arnauteille near Cacassonne

Carcassonne is truly magical. As you approach the city and start to catch glimpses of this vast, fairy tale castle you’ll hardly believe your eyes that it really exists. Viewing it from a distance, where you see the full impact and scale of it, is truly one of the most impressive sights you will ever see. Access to the citadel is free and you can wander around the ramparts or right into the centre of the Old City through a number of different gates.

The medieval citadel of Carcassonne

Carcassonnes’s impressive outer walls and ramparts

The centre is very, very touristy though, so if wall-to-wall souvenir shops and less-than-stellar-yet-expensive restaurants are not your thing, you might not want to linger too long here. You can take a guided tour, though our travelling companions had done this on a previous visit and said it was very slow. Our advice would be to head into the city as early as possible, well before the sun gets too hot and the place is filled with tourists. When you’ve had your fill, head out of town to a good vantage point and enjoy a great view of it while you dine from your campervan kitchen. The Carcassonne aire de service on the A61 autoroute, heading west, has one of the most magnificent views of the medieval citadel.

Shaded motorhome pitch at Domaine d'Arnauteille campsite

A lovely shaded spot at Domaine d’Arnauteille campsite

Booking a campsite

It is essential to book a campsite place now for July or August at either campsite mentioned above, and be prepared to find the “Aire de Service” full during those months. The Carcassonne Festival (1-31 July) is one of the biggest attractions in southern France, bringing in even more tourists than usual. It was busy here in early June, but will be absolutely bonkers during the school summer holidays.

Carcassonne is well worth a visit and parking for campervans has been thought through here. The region has lots more to offer too, especially along the Canal du Midi and into the Cathar country, so we would recommend a visit to this area. Tourism Carcassonne and Aude Tourism will help you plan your trip.