|La Bastide, Carcassonne, France
|The lower town grid was laid out in the 13th century and remains today.
La Bastide is the lower part of the town of Carcassone, a walled city laid out in a grid formation in the 13th century by King Louis IX, known as Saint-Louis. Think of it: a town grid that is 8 centuries old!
There's less for visitors to see in La Bastide than in the more dramatic La Cité, but it's interesting to stroll its narrow streets, visit its few historic churches, and sit for a drink, snack or meal at a café or restaurant on Place Carnot, La Bastide's only open square.
To get there from La Cité (the medieval fortress), simply walk down the hill and along the Rue Trivalle to the Pont Vieux (Old Bridge). This lovely bridge from the 14th century crosses the River Aude and provides wonderful views of La Cité. It's a footbridge now, with the nearby Pont Neuf handling car traffic.
Some of the city walls still remain around La Bastide, and there are also several hôtels particuliers, or private mansions, which can be visited.
The large Cathédrale St-Michel was built between the 13th and 19th centuries. It's at the southern end of La Bastide, near the Portail des Jacobins.
The Place Carnot, with its many restaurants and commercial businesses, is an open square in the center of La Bastide. It is near the old Halles (market) building) and also not far from the Église St-Vincent, which dates from the 14th and 15th centuries.
At the northern end of La Bastide you'll come to the Canal du Midi. A historic lock allows boats to pass, and there are a variety of excursion boats that can take you to visit different parts of this historic and beautiful canal.
On the eastern side, facing the Pont Neuf, is the Fine Arts Museum.
There is also a Tourist Information Office in La Bastide, at the corner of Rue de Verdun and Rue Jean Bringer.