hotel de la cite

Photos courtesy of Hôtel de la Cité








Carcassonne was first built during Gallo Roman times. The Visigoths built the inner rampart, which repelled a siege by Clovis in 506. The Moors captured the city in 728 and were driven out 24 years later by Pepin the Short, father of Charlemagne. During one five-year siege by Charlemagne, the populace was on the verge of starvation and surrender when a woman named Dame Carcas had the idea of feeding the last bits of grain to a pig and then tossing the pig over the wall. The idea was that when it burst the invaders would see the grain and think there was an unlimited food supply inside the walls. This ruse must have worked, since the enemy abruptly ended their siege and left. In 1355, Edward, the infamous Black Prince, burned down the city.

Standing between the cathedral and the city wall, the Hôtel de la Cité was once the site of a bishop’s palace. A Who’s Who of the Middle Ages and Renaissance lived or visited here: Pope Urban II (1096), Pope Clement V (1309), King François I (1533), Charles IX and Catherine de Medicis (1565), Henri IV (1565), and Louis XIII (1662).

Pamela’s Perspective

The medieval city of Carcassonne conjures up romantic images of fair damsels, knights on horseback, and itinerant troubadours, but this magnificent fortress city also has a long and brutal history of warfare and continual sieges.

One of the great attractions of France, the only siege going on these days is by busloads of tourists. They do leave when the sun goes down, which makes staying in the old city so attractive. An early morning walk on out the ramparts will more than fulfill any medieval fantasies.


Hôtel de la Cité

An 11th-century palace


Place Auguste-Pierre Pont
11000 Carcassonne
Tel: ++33 (0)4 68 71 98 71
Hotel website
Reserve with

Fast facts

40 rooms and 21 suites

Double rooms: 199–450 euros
Suites: 385–875 euros
Rates do not include breakfast
Packages and discounts available

Open: all year

Getting there

Carcassonne is southeast of Toulouse. It is connected by train to all major cities. The hotel is inside the city wall near the Cathedral of Sainte-Nazaire.

What to do

On site: swimming pool
Nearby: the medieval city of Carcassonne; golf; tennis; horseback riding


Since 1906 the palace doors of the Hôtel de la Cité have been opened to paying guests.

In the late 1990s, the Hôtel de la Cité and the Dame Carcas hotels were acquired and refurbished by the Orient Express group, resulting in the most luxurious and elegant accommodations in all of Carcassonne.

The charming medieval touches of the old hotel fortunately still remain: the leaded Gothic windows, double-vaulted ceilings, and ceiling-high fireplaces.

Guest rooms may have four-poster beds, Louis XVI-style furnishings, or lovely contemporary decor. Some open up onto terraces and balconies with views of the ramparts or gardens.

Eating opportunities abound at the hotel. The gourmet dining restaurant, La Barbacane, is open for dinner only. Chez Saskia is a more casual affair for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. During the winter months, the stylish Côté Cheminée restaurant is warmed by a crackling log fire, and during the summer, enjoy a sumptuous meal outside in the Jardin de Eveque. If you want to relax with a drink, the library bar will provide.

Something special

curlicueHighly regarded restaurant—La Barbacane

curlicueWine cellar for small groups