he Cros-Mayrevieille street is the one that welcomes you when you enter the Cité, passing under the Narbonne's Gate.
But maybe you'll be disappointed by what you will discover first, especially if you come in summer. Your first impressions may press you to turn back ! We don't mean this narrow lane is ugly, on the contrary... We exhort you to raise your nose and look at the nice houses and windows above you... At least if you can, because it may be dangerous to walk in the middle of that crowd, kids, dogs, souvenir shops, plastic swords, "cathar crosses" (horror !), etc...

Well, we are not going to be slanderous, because all those horrible souvenir shops are the ransom we have to pay for the enormous fame and success of the Cité. And when we were children, we all dreamed of an armour and a bow... The Cité belongs to everybody, isn't it a World Patrimony Monument ??

But just be prepared, and when you know what you are going to find there, everything is OK !!

Anyway, it is very easy to avoid all that crowd. Just turn right or left to an adjacent street, and you immediately get in very quiet places. The true Carcassonne begins there ! The Cité is not an immense open-air museum. It is a village with its 150 permanent inhabitants we call the "citadins". They all love their Cité, and we understand them very well...

Most of the old houses of the Cité possess cellars with gothic or romanesque vaultings, old wells, but it is naturally impossible to see them. Two big wells are however still standing in the streets of the old Cité : The "small well", on the Place du Plô, and the "big well", on the Place du Grand Puits (the Square of the Big Well !). This Big Well is 40 metres deep, its stones date back from the 16th century.

It gave birth to many fantastic stories and legends. It would give access to a secret underground passage, leading to Lastours castles (18 km away from Carcassonne !!!) or to fabulous treasures, it would be the home of the Devil, who would have throwned a priest into it... People even wrote poems to it !!!

The Place Marcou (Marcou was a former mayor of Carcassonne) is one of the most important touristic spots in the Cité. It is a beautiful shaded square, so typically mediterranean : at the centre stands a fountain where children like to play with the water, and all around cafés and restaurants. From that Place Marcou you will enjoy a nice view over the Narbonne's Gate.

On the eastern side of Place Marcou there is no house but a little garden with a big iron cross in the middle. At the place where people now lie in the grass or children play football stood two centuries ago one of the churches of the Cité. Church Saint Sernin was demolished during the Revolution in 1793. The only remains are the walls of the choir and the big gothic style window. The window was made on royal license in 1441, because the choir of the church was considered a little bit too dark. That's why we still see that amazing and finely sculptured hole in the city wall. We would expect only narrow and almost invisible openings.

There were formerly four churches inside of the Cité. There is only one left today, the Basilica. The Chapel of the Penitents on Place Saint Jean also disappeared during the Revolution. People in Carcassonne think there was also a cemetery near the chapel, because the owners of some houses on Place Saint Jean found human bones in their cellars ! No church now, but a very nice view on the Counts' Castle and the Basilica.
The fourth religious building was the chapel of the castle (also called St Mary Chapel), which leaned against the outer wall of the Counts' Castle. It was demolished before the Revolution (an exception !). Archeologists discovered human bones in the former crypt of the chapel, too. But they found only babies' skeletons, and nobody can explain why our medieval ancestors buried only small children there so far...

The French Revolution at the end of the 18th century was a very bad period for all our churches actually... The canonic enclosure of Saint Nazaire (convent, refectory and cemetery) was razed to the ground at that time, too. At the same place we see today the Grand Theatre.

Arriving on the little square in front of the Basilica, you are surrounded by many beautiful architectural specimens : one of the Cité's oldest houses is very easy to find thanks to its wooden framings.

These wooden pieces date back from the 15th century. Close to it you cannot miss the enormous Hôtel de la Cité. It was built at the very beginning of the 20th century in a nice neogothic style on the site of the former Bishop's Palace. This luxurious hotel possesses magnificent gardens looking onto the ramparts. It has been welcoming many famous personalities and stars, writers, singers, artists for a century now.

During your "promenade" through the narrow lanes of the Cité, you will probably walk along a big and austere building on the street leading to the Aude Gate and the ramparts. This is the House of the Inquisition. It was formerly directly connected with the wall.

The narrow and dark street which separates today the House of the Inquisition from the inner wall (rue du Four Saint Nazaire) is one of the most surprising places of Carcassonne. It is closed by very high walls on both sides. You hardly can see the roofs and crenellations of the towers and of the Counts' Castle. No noise. You really feel transported centuries ago !!!

The impressive fortifications which enclose the old town are not completely hermetic. Several gates (Rodez Gate, Saint Nazaire postern, etc...) make it possible to reach the Upper Lists or the Lower Lists.
Carcassonne > Visit > Streets of the Cité