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Perched on a rocky hilltop and bristling with zig-zag battlements, stout walls and spiky turrets, from afar the fortified city of Carcassonne looks like something out of a children’s storybook. It is most people’s perfect idea of a medieval castle and it is undoubtedly an impressive spectacle. Beneath the old town sprawls the Ville Basse (lower town), an altogether more contemporary grid of grey streets, open squares and busy shops. The two towns are linked by a brace of bridges across the Canal du Midi: the modern Pont-Neuf road bridge and the much older and prettier Pont-Vieux, a pedestrian-only bridge built during the 14th century and rebuilt in the 19th century.
This wonderful 4 night / 5 day luxury holiday by First Class rail is from £1,195 per person (based on two people travelling together in low season, departing on a Sunday and sharing a twin/double room)
Your holiday begins this morning at the ‘cathedral of railways’, the wonderfully restored London St. Pancras International. Take the time to discover this destination station and admire its impressive curved glass roof. Then sit back, relax and watch the countryside glide past as you travel by Eurostar to Paris. Enjoy the light meal and drinks served on board in your Standard Premier service (Eurostar’s 1st class for leisure travellers) as you reach speeds of up to 186 mph.
On arrival at the Gare du Nord your private taxi transfer takes you to the Gare de Lyon where you continue your journey southwards through France to Narbonne. Here you connect with the InterCity service to the nearby beautiful walled city of Carcassonne. On arrival, make your way to the elegant Hotel de la Cité (5 star) for your four-night stay.
Make the most of three full days to explore this magnificent city. Set high up on a hill, Carcassonne’s ancient walled city is Disneyworld-perfect. This fairy-tale collection of drawbridges, towers and atmospheric cobbled streets was reputedly the inspiration for Walt Disney’s The Sleeping Beauty. Carcassonne is actually two cities in one.
The citadel of the upper town is the major sight with the lower town (Ville Basse) dating back to the Middle Ages and featuring typically French bars, cafés, restaurants and a handful of charming boutiques. Once you have explored the upper town, why not enjoy a picnic by the Pont Vieux and the banks of the Aude? The bridge dates from the fourteenth century and boasts a Gothic chapel at its western end dating from 1538.
Should you wish to venture further afield, you could take the train to nearby Arles. This beautiful city was once home to Vincent van Gogh, and its Roman centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Another popular option is Avignon, with its fascinating walled old town.
Today you bid farewell to Carcassonne as you make your way back to the station and join the InterCity train to Bordeaux. Here you connect with the high-speed TGV service back to Paris. Sit back and relax as the train whisks you northwards through France to the Gare Montparnasse in Paris. In the French capital you are transferred by private taxi to the Gare du Nord where you join the Eurostar back to London.
Take time to reflect on the magnificent sights, sounds and tastes which you have enjoyed on your holiday as you enjoy a light meal and drinks before your arrival into London St Pancras, and your onward journey home.
Set in Carcassonne’s circular walls, Hotel de la Cite Carcassonne – MGallery Collection (5 star) is set in a Medieval-style chateau. The hotel features gardens and an outdoor pool with views of Saint Nazaire Basilica. Free WiFi and wired internet access is available.Classic or Provencal-style decoration and an iPod docking station feature in all of the guest rooms at Hotel de la Cite. Homemade pastries are served at breakfast and regional dishes are offered in the brasserie and summer restaurant. Guests can also dine at the Michelin-starred Barbacane restaurant or enjoy a cocktail in the bar. Guests can go wine tasting in the on-site cellar or organize a river cruise at the 24-hour reception. The hotel has a shuttle service and a valet service available for guests using the private car park.
Throughout the year and tailor-made to suit your holiday needs
For information and booking Tel: 01347 825292 or email firstname.lastname@example.org