Rampart Museum and The List Circuit at Carcassonne

I was prepared to visit Carcassonne as a museum unto itself. I would discover museums within the museum. This is one I found in the Count’s Chambers, which opened to the public in 1927 and is free, but only accessible via a paid tour of the ramparts.  

These rooms were home to the Counts of Trenvacal during the 13th century and were later converted to house military garrisons when the castle became property of the King of France. It now houses sculptures that were salvaged during restoration work in the 19th century.

The Lapidary Museum had a fun collection ranging from Roman milestones to medieval era sculptures like this one:

Medieval face
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heather Daveno

This photo shows an effigy dated 1299 of Saint Louis (Louis IX), the only French king to ever be canonized. The piece below it is the arms of the Seneschal of Carcassonne which the placard seems to indicate as a modern reproduction.

The effigy & coat of arms
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heather Daveno

The Count’s Chamber had a barrel ceiling painted blue, and a fresco on the wall depicting the count’s battle against the Moors in Spain in 1118. In the center of this room was a large 12th century ablutions fountain carved from white marble.

Blue vaulting
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heather Daveno

The “Gothic Room” displayed a beautiful set of 14th century Gothic arches and an unknown 13th knight in repose. There’s a collection of stone cannon balls here, dating from the 14th century. Iron cannons and stone balls proved to be pretty fragile and were replaced with bronze cannons and iron balls in the 15th century.

Triple arches
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heather Daveno

The museum provided me with a rest between staircases and towers at about the halfway point on my trek around the city. After having completed my tour of the ramparts, I walked the path between the two walls which is called the List Circuit. It took me around the city again (about 2.5 miles) but was more level and an easier walk, as long as I payed attention to the large and erratically sized cobblestones.

PHOTOGRAPH BY Heather Daveno

Carcasso had been a Roman settlement since the 1st century BC. In Roman fashion, the wall had four entries at the compass points, and was constructed from stone, levelled with slabs of red brick. I looked for the levelling bricks between the stones which mark the Roman remains of the the inner wall, which you can see in the photo below.

Red brick leveled tower
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heather Daveno

The walk along the List Circuit is very picturesque, and I joined with others on this path in stopping frequently to get the perfect shot, and to stand back while others get their perfect shots as well.

More shots of the Museum:


More shots of the List Circuit:


Carcassonne is a living city, Since the Walled City is in fact a city, it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no admission. Individual shops, restaurants and other sites have their own hours. Watch for cars after 6 PM! Book a hotel within these walls, and plan on staying a couple of days.

Tours of various sites within the city, including the Ramparts, are available in both guided and self-guided formats. Check their website for availability and pricing, or the Tourist Information office just inside the walled city. https://www.tourisme-carcassonne.fr/en/prepare/visits/guided-tours/

The "Self-guided tour" gives access to the château comtal and its ramparts, its archaeological museum and its shop. It continues with a panoramic visit of the ramparts offering magnificent views of the landscape and the fortifications of the medieval city.


Accessibility notes:

This is a castle. There are no elevators. The main inner city has a brick surface and is not entirely level. The List (the area between the two walls) is heavily cobblestoned and might be problematic for wheelchairs and walkers. There are Many Stairs. Once you enter the tour of the Ramparts, you can only walk one direction and there are no shortcuts to get back down to the ground. There are no restrooms or water sources in the Ramparts. Expect 2-2.5 hours to complete that tour.

*    *    *

Heather Daveno

Heather Daveno hails from Seattle, Washington, where she works as an office manager by day and a self taught textile artisan by night. In her spare time she is a “hobby historian” and is currently researching the female side of her family history for a book she plans to write, titled: “The Matriarch Diaries.”

You can see her current textile projects at August Phoenix Mercantile and her travels at Daveno Travels.