I had no idea what was in Narbonne, but on our recent trip to Carcassonne, we were looking for day trip options and it came highly recommended. I can see why. Narbonne was utterly beautiful, full of big clean open spaces, gorgeous buildings, lots of history and a good selection of cafes and restaurants. If you’re in the south of France then it’s really worth adding to your itinerary, and I think it makes for a perfect weekend break destination as well as you can combine it with nearby Fontfroide Abbey.
Here are 10 fun things to do in this amazing city.
1. Narbonne Cathedral
Narbonne Cathedral, or le Cathédrale Saint-Just et Saint-Pasteur, was built in the 1200s, although a church has existed on the site since 313! It’s a stunning cathedral with interesting architecture inside and beautiful stained glass and high ceilings inside.
2. Don Jon Tower
One of my favourite things to do in Narbonne was to climb the Don Jon Tower. This is located just off the main square (the tower covered in flowers in my photos below). Interestingly all the translations call it a dungeon (i.e. Don Jon), but the actual translation means ‘watch tower’ – so you’re not going in to a dungeon, you’re going upwards instead. And wow are the views from the top spectacular.
3. Cathedral Cloisters
I love cloisters, I think they are beautiful and Narbonne’s were no exception. I loved the fact they’ve planted a rose garden in the middle – it was just beautiful in the hot summer sunshine.
4. Old Town
Narbonne is a town which is fun to just stroll around. It spans quite a large area, and it’s full of pretty streets and alleys to explore. I just loved it!
5. Roman Tunnels
One of the most famous attractions in Narbonne is Horreum, an underground network of tunnels built as warehouse storage by the Romans – dating back to the 1st Century BC! They are amazing and I always marvel at how on earth they built these sort of things so long ago without any modern technology or tools.
6. Roman Road
Another Roman reminder in Narbonne is a section of original Roman road, which has been uncovered and is open to look at and step on. Isn’t it crazy that there will be thousands of these all over the world, just built on top on like here. You can see how deep underground it would be if it hadn’t been uncovered!
7. Archbishop’s Palace
The Palace of the Archbishops of Narbonne is a testament to the power of the ancient archbishops of the city, with the cloister and the proximity of the cathedral, a set that evokes the City of the Popes of Avignon.
The oldest parts of the building date from the twelfth century, reworkings and enlargements were then made in the fourteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The main things to see is the Palais Neuf, which is home to a rather grand staircase entrance and an interesting art museum inside.
8. Les Halles
Les Halles has been voted the best market in France and is a great stop for a spot of lunch – it’s home to cheese stands, meat stands, sweet treats and everything in between.
9. Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi is an amazing waterway of 240km, manually constructed in the 1600s. At the time it was one of the most difficult projects ever undertaken, with engineers saying whilst it was possible to build the canal – it was not possible to fill it with water!! But a solution was found to bring the water down from natural springs in the mountains and so we have the Canal du Midi!
10. Merchant’s Bridge
The Merchant’s Bridge is amazing. From the outside, there is a clear bridge, but as you walk across it it’s surrounded by shops so you have no idea you’re walking over the water! The bridge itself is also beautiful, made out of the local pink marble for which the region is famous.
I really loved Narbonne, and found it to be the perfect place to spend a day. What do you think? Would you like to visit one day? Thank you for reading – as always, stay safe and happy travelling.