Eurostar: Beautiful French city straight out of a fairy tale accessible by train from London in 8 hours which inspired Sleeping Beauty

You’d be forgiven if you were at all hesitant to fly right now following the recent airport chaos at London airports including Gatwick and Heathrow. However, don’t let that ruin your dreams of a summer getaway just yet – it’s entirely possible to get to many gorgeous European destinations entirely by train thanks to the Eurostar.

Take the gorgeous French city of Carcassonne, for example. Located in the Aude region of southern France, charming Carcassonne is only eight hours away and a relatively easy train journey via Eurostar and TGV from London St Pancras International.

The fairy-tale place is particularly known for its medieval hilltop citadel La Cité, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the southeastern part of the city which includes a 12th century castle, fortified walls and a moat. And if the network of turrets and watchtowers of this long, rectangular building sound familiar, well, there’s a reason.

READ MORE: “I took the Eurostar from London to Paris and will never fly again even though it’s much cheaper”

Aerial view of the medieval city of Carcassonne and the fortress castle

The old walled town, considered one of France’s must-see historical sites alongside The Mont Saint Michel, is said to have been Walt Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle, as well as the Bavarian palace of Neuschwanstein in Germany. Unsurprisingly, the scenic site draws Disney lovers and history buffs from afar to Carcassonne, with around two million visitors a year.

For this reason, it is best to leave as early in the day as possible if you want to take a leisurely stroll through the winding cobbled streets or take photos without tourists in front of old stone buildings like the Château Comtal. In the old town of Carcassonne it is also worth taking a stroll through the picturesque and narrow streets of the La Bastide district.

The medieval old town of Carcassonne with the gothic cathedral

The good news for foodies, meanwhile, is that Carcassonne is home to a number of brilliant creperies and other classic French eateries. For a reasonably priced, Tripadvisor-approved place in the center of the Old Town, look no further than The Secretwhich offers a fixed three-course menu.

Other inexpensive eateries in the center include The little spoon and Kitchen Anette. Or if you are looking for a chic outdoor terrace, typically South of France, as well as delicious authentic cuisine, The Plô Tower Garden will not disappoint you. A Tripadvisor member commented: “Went there with my kids. There was a nice variety of choices and the food was good. Charming courtyard leaning against a wall of the city. Very friendly service. Ideal for a romantic date and/or a good family dinner.”

The Garden of the Tour du Plô – our-delicious-garden

There are tons of wonderful options for staying in Carcassonne on, whether you want to stay inside the walls or enjoy stunning views of the fortified citadel from below. A particularly magical choice according to users is Domaine Le Couventin the village of Grèzes.

The duo of villas for rent is a 10-minute drive from Carcassonne and was once a convent and presbytery. Ideally to cope with the heat of the South of France, the properties share a swimming pool and garden, as well as their own private terraces each.

Another charming choice is Carcassonne guest house, a well-rated bed and breakfast with stunning views of the town’s castle and the Aude River. You can walk to the walled town in 10 minutes, find a mix of shops, bars and restaurants in just five minutes, and expect a continental breakfast every morning on the outdoor terrace.


How to get there

You can avoid the airport chaos by taking the train from London to Carcassonne. The journey takes eight and a half hours and only requires two changes. From London St Pancras, the route first takes you to Paris Gare du Nord aboard the Eurostar. Once in Paris, change stations for Paris Montparnasse on a high-speed TGV to Toulouse Matabiau, and take your last train to Carcassonne at the next station. Train tickets can be purchased via Railway line and Rail Europe.

Whether you’re looking to book a long-awaited sun and beach holiday, a trip to Disney World or a cosmopolitan city break somewhere amazing, travel agency TUI has just unveiled a promo code that could save you £300 on your vacation booking.

If you use the promotional code GO AWAY on the company website when booking holidays departing between May and October 2022 you will get £100 off bookings over £800, £200 off bookings over £2000 or £300 off bookings of over £3,500.

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Alternatively, it is also possible to travel to Carcassonne by air. Ryanair direct service to Carcassonne airport from London Stansted, with flights lasting 1h55. You can also fly from Heathrow or Gatwick to the nearby hub of Toulouse, then take a taxi or rental car to Carcassconne (1h10). British Airways flies from Heathrow, while EasyJet steals from gatwick.

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