The church was Carcassonne's cathedral until 1803 when the episcopal seat was transferred to Saint Michel in the Lower Town. St Nazaire was given a consolation prize in 1898, and became St Nazaire basilica !
But let's start our visit of the... basilica with a short walk outside. The great portal on the northern side of the nave (protected from violent winds) is the main entry. There is no statue carved in the stones of the central tympanum and the pier. Only the thin columns on the archway shafts are decorated with flowers, leaves, monsters and demons.
On the other side St Nazaire's choir is very characteristic of the gothic architecture, with its wide openings, its pinacles, gables and gargoyles that are looking at you !!!
The contrast with the romanesque style is blatant !
St Nazaire's organ is generally considered as the oldest one in France. It was already here in the 16th century. It underwent many restorations and enlargements since then.
Every sunday afternoon from June to September free concerts are performed by organists coming from all over the world.
On the north side aisle, the Rochefort's Chapel is a masterpiece of the 14th century. Bishop Pierre de Rochefort died in 1321, he now rests in this chapel which is one of the most finely sculpted works in St Nazaire : the bishop is standing between two archidiacres and the burial ceremony is represented just at their feet. Splendid !
The transept and the choir date back from the French time, when the conquerors imposed the gothic style coming from Ile de France and Paris. The construction began in 1269, the ensemble was completed in 1330.
The glassworks illuminating the Gothic part of St Nazaire are among the nicest in Southern France.
Saint Nazaire and Saint Celse Basilica is a masterpiece among masterpieces, and if there is a single place you should visit in Carcassonne, it would be this one !!