Although this city is one of France's top tourist destinations, drawing an average of three million visitors yearly, it mostly attracts Europeans, so it can feel especially exotic. Some describe it as a tourist-trap, and there are a bit too many shops hawking tacky souvenirs, but it is still and enchanting and interesting place to visit.
Knifes, swords, boards and other attributes of medieval weapon are on sale in each small shop.
To avoid problems at passage of border and customs I preferred not to buy anything of such weaponry.
After we arrived in the early morning, it was off to explore the biggest fortified city in Europe, Carcassonne. Although dating from the time of Charlemagne, it has been extensively restored and looks imposing and magnificent. You can walk along the ramparts, visit the Chateau Comptal, shop in the boutiques lining the cobbled streets, visit galleries and museums and get a feel of everyday life in the Middle Ages.
Well, let’s be honest about this, for the three girls I had along my visit to Carcassonne, it was impossible to pass L'Arbaletrier without having a look inside. Right here they use only the finest natural ingredients available to hand to make their products. They guarantee that none of their products contain any animal derived ingredienst and nothing is tested in animals. They say that they only test on humans and so they did to Paulien, Cyrille and Iris. A free hand wash and massage of the hands was their part. It was fun, refreshing and the lady of the shop was very polite.
OK, so you are wondering where all those kids running around with wooden swords, foam head bonkers, princess outfits and other touristy medieval goods, well in the NW section of the Cite, there is the shop l'Epoque Medieval where you can get all this stuff and more. Considering I was there in the off season, and there were still many boys charging around with their wooden swords smacking away at one another, I can just imagine how this would be during the summer.... OMG
Your kids will certainly want to play knights, squires, soldiers, and all that sorts of games which the visit of the high walls, the fortress, the drawbridges etc, may inspire tem. There are lots of shops where you can buy about everything related with knights and ladies. . . . and why not give them the pleasure to carry some sword (plastic), or wear an armour.
You see on the first picture that not only kids enjoy to play with fake weapons. .. . Here (picture 2) are some armours the kids may like and whilst they choose what they like, you can look for some postcards or buy some guide.
Souvenir shops, a lot and you can even find some specialised shops like this one selling white cotton clothes exclusively (picture 3), but when you look for souvenirs, don’t forget to look at the houses where the shops are located, there are some nice half timbered houses (picture 4), stone houses with low reliefs, or this house where the bricks décor give a nice personality to the house (picture 5).
This shop deals only in hand made lace and will even take made-to-order items or link names (letters).
What to buy: Lace is as portable a souvenir as a tourist can carry. Unfortunately local made lace is quite expensive. As you can see the prices (non-negotiable) were above 20 euro, 15 years ago. The imported lace from Asia (Vietnam) was half that or less. The places of origin are on the pieces. All are hand made. They do not warn you about the sources, just look or ask. I assume the prices are higher now.
What to pay: Look at the labels as to the place of origin; local lace above $20, Asian half that.
The Musee d'Arc sells a variety of large tapestries, and smaller items made from tapestry material. They tend to depict medieval scenes or are in traditional French colours.
The entry to the museum is E$5,00. Am not sure whether they will let you in to the tapestry room without charging you.
Guilaine (Jean) et Fabre (Daniel), dir., Histoire de Carcassonne,
Toulouse, Privat, 1990.
Guilaine (Jean), Vaquer (Jean), Rancoule (Guy), Carsac et les origines de Carcassonne,
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De la place forte au Monument : la restauration de la cité de Carcassonne au XIXe siècle.
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What to buy: Amiel (Christiane), Piniès (Jean-Pierre), La Cité des images - Voir habiter rêver, Garae - Hésiode, 1999.
Archives de la Commission des Monuments historiques.
Inventaire Languedoc-Roussillon. Ministère de la Culture - Direction du Patrimoine, 1982.
Blanc (Jean), Robion (Claude-Marie), Satgé (Philippe), La Cité de Carcassonne.
Des pierres et des hommes. Paris, éditions Jacques Grancher, 1999.
Brenon (Anne), Les Cathares. Pauvres du Christ ou Apôtres de Satan ?
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Comité du Patrimoine Mondial de l'UNESCO,
Carcassonne - Une cité patrimoine de l'Humanité. Éd. Bonnafous et fils, Carcassonne, 1999.
All kinds of souvenirs can be bought in the city. Original clothes in wool, some art,... whatever you like.
This is a souvenir-machine :) For 10 FF (1,5 euro) you can buy a commemorative coin...