Narbonne Things to Do

  • Paulien and I are reading a good book.
    Paulien and I are reading a good book.
    by Jerelis
  • Please don't disturb!
    Please don't disturb!
    by Jerelis
  • Just
    Just "into" the book!
    by Jerelis

Most Recent Things to Do in Narbonne

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    Reading a book!

    by Jerelis Written Apr 2, 2012

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    Paulien and I are reading a good book.
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    Wondering what to pack for your next vacation? Yes, we always have some stress related to this issue. As an experienced traveler I always combine some days to relax with some days to explore the surroundings, beautiful historical cities or hiking the amazing National Parks. So I can easily say that whenever I am on vacation, I often want to relax, escape and unwind. There is nothing quite like a good book to accomplish these things.

    Being away for many days on a vacation break will of course give you a great chance of getting your head into a good book or two, but which books should you choose to take with you? I do take along some ‘beach books’: a good beach book is engaging and a quick enough read that you can finish most of it on the beach before my sunscreen wears off. A beach book isn't necessarily literature, but a beach book that will entertain. With these beach books in my hand, all I need to remember is my towel and sunscreen.

    But some literature is also coming along, because having a vacation, whatever the time of year, usually makes me turn my thoughts to which good book should we take with me? Sitting in my comfortable chair after a beautiful day with long walk, reading a good book in the evening makes it complete.

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    Canal de la Robine - Beautiful surroundings.

    by Jerelis Written Sep 9, 2011
    Les Halles as seen from the banks of the canal.
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    Trade has been one of the most important sectors in Narbonne since the city was founded and and due to the commercial success of the Canal du Midi the Narbonne traders demanded improved access to it. So in 1686 the Canal de la Robine was constructed by Vauban as a lockless open cut following an abandoned course of the Aude. In recent years, retailers have been an engine of growth for the city, especially the local offer. Don't, however, expect any large shops or chain-stores. Narbonne is not quite like that: it has more character. Part of this character is Les Halles de Narbonne (Marché) near Canal de la Robine, where you can buy any of the local specialties.

    After a visit to Les Halles we also had a walk on both side of the Canal de la Robine. Its base nautique is the starting point for many midi mariners embarking on a week or so of gentle adventure, exploring one of France's loveliest canals from water level. So our stretch of the legs had just the right balance of scenery, gastronomy and history.

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    Canal de la Robine - Pont des Marchands.

    by Jerelis Written Sep 9, 2011

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    View at the Pont des Marchands.
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    Whenever you follow the contours of the Canal de la Robine starting at Les Halles towards the old city center you will automatically find a very old bridge which also used to be part of the Via Domitia. This so called Pont des Marchands (Merchant Bridge) is a historic bridge and serves as a foundation for a row of houses and shops underneath which the Canal de la Robine runs through the old town. The Romans started to built this bridge in the 1ste century BCI and its segmental arch has a span of circa 15 m and. The structur of the original Roman bridge featured as many as six arches.

    Roman bridges, built by ancient Romans, were the first large and lasting bridges built. Their bridges were built with stone and had the arch as its basic structure of which the Pont des Marchants is a very good example. Most utilized concrete as well, which the Romans were the first to use for bridges. The Pont des Merchands crosses the canal in the center of Narbonne, but it used to cross the river Aude before that river changed its bed. It is a so-called living bridge, with houses and shops on top of it. Therefore, if you walk over the bridge you probably don´t even notice you are on a bridge.

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    Canal de la Robine - Why it is made.

    by Jerelis Written Sep 9, 2011
    Some vessels in the Canal de la Robine.
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    On our first walk in Narbonne we noticed the beautiful Canal de la Robine immediately, because we parked our car nearby. Just a walk alongside it did't made us realize that this canal was handmade and had a specific reason why it was made. We found that out later. The reason is as followed: Narbonne fell into a slow decline in the 14th century, due to a change in the course of the Aude River. Eager to maintain a link to important trade, the people of Narbonne began a very costly work trying to keep the Aude River's linked to the sea so that it would remain navigable to vessels.

    This major undertaking resulted in the construction of the Canal de la Robine, which was finally linked with the Canal du Midi via the Canal de Jonction in 1776. In the 19th century, the canal system in the south of France came into competition with an expanding rail network, but kept some importance due to the flourishing wine trade. Therefore Narbonne managed to hold on to its vital but limited importance as a trading route.

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    Via Domitia - Pont des Marchands.

    by Jerelis Written Aug 24, 2011

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    View at the Pont des Marchands.
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    Whenever you follow the contours of the Via Domitia at the main square toward the Canal de la Robine you will automatically find a very old bridge which also used to be part of the Via Domitia. This so called Pont des Marchands (Merchant Bridge) is a historic bridge and serves as a foundation for a row of houses and shops underneath which the Canal de la Robine runs through the old town. The Romans started to built this bridge in the 1ste century BCI and its segmental arch has a span of circa 15 m and. The structur of the original Roman bridge featured as many as six arches.

    Roman bridges, built by ancient Romans, were the first large and lasting bridges built. Their bridges were built with stone and had the arch as its basic structure of which the Pont des Marchants is a very good example. Most utilized concrete as well, which the Romans were the first to use for bridges. The Pont des Merchands crosses the canal in the center of Narbonne, but it used to cross the river Aude before that river changed its bed. It is a so-called living bridge, with houses and shops on top of it. Therefore, if you walk over the bridge you probably don´t even notice you are on a bridge.

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    Via Domitia - First Roman road built in Gaul.

    by Jerelis Updated Aug 24, 2011

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    Cyrille is showing the complete via Domitia.
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    Narbonne was founded in 118 BC, as a Roman port, on the Mediterranean coast. This sea-port was the capital of Gallia. Narbo Martius as it was called, was one of the most important ports in the Roman Empire. It became the capital of a province stretching from Toulouse to Geneva. Before we decided where we wanted to go during the summer of 2011 of course we did some research on Google about Narbonne. One of the things that intregued me immediately was the fact that there was a section of Via Domitia exposed right at the city centre of this old city. This route that the Romans regularised and paved was ancient when they set out to survey it, so old that it traces the mythic route travelled by Heracles. Hannibal traversed it on his way from Hispania to Italy.

    So right here at the city centre we saw the Via Domitia, the first Roman road built in Gaul, and Narbonne the first Roman colony there. Named after its constructor Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus - a Roman Consul, the Via Domitia linked Hispania to Italy. It is here in Narbonne that the Via Domitia met the Via Aquitania. Talking about history!

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    Via Domitia - Constructed in 118 BC.

    by Jerelis Written Aug 24, 2011

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    The Tabula Peutingeriana
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    Why was I so much intregued by visiting the Via Domitia? That answer is quite easy to be honest ... it beares so much history, please read what I learned:

    * The Via Domitia was constructed in 118 BC by the proconsul, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, whose name it bore;
    * Built around the same time the first Roman colony in Gaul, Colonia Narbo Martius (Narbonne) was founded;
    * The Via Domitia connected Italy to Hispania;
    * It crosses the Alps by the easiest passage, the Col de Montgenèvre (1850 m);
    * At Narbonne, it met the Via Aquitania (which led toward the Atlantic Ocean through Toulouse and Bordeaux);
    * Narbonne was a crucial strategic crossroads of the Via Domitia and the Via Aquitania, and it was an accessible, but well-defendable, port at that time;
    * In between the cities that it linked, the Via Domitia was provided with a series of mansiones at distances of a day's journey for a loaded cart, at which shelter, provender and fresh horses could be obtained for travellers on official business.

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    Palais des Archeveques - The palace garden.

    by Jerelis Written Aug 22, 2011
    The palace seen from the palace garden.
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    You'll find some plaquates with some interesting historical facts whenever you're just walking in and around the Archbishop's Palace. We read that the Archbishop's Palace was first designed in the 12th century and was intended to create a safe place of comfort for the residents of Narbonne, even whilst under attack. The military prowess of the building can still be seen from the large turrets that emanate from the top. in recent times the palace has become home to three of the citie favorite museums.

    We took a strawl around it and behind the palace we saw another plaquate. It said that the palace is built on the first wall of narbonne and this part can be seen at the palace garden where we were standing. Right here the first stone was laid when they started to built a 7th century old palace right at this spot. But anyway, we contineud our walk around the palace and when we were back at the front side we said to each other: together with the Cathedral of Saint-Just and Saint-Pasteur the Archbishop's Palace constitutes the key monument of the town of Narbonne.

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    Palais des Archeveques - Old and new Palace.

    by Jerelis Written Aug 22, 2011
    View at the Gilles Aycelin Keep.
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    The Archbishop's Palace was conceived as part fortress, part pleasure residence. It has three military-style towers from the 13th and 14th centuries. The Old Palace on the right dates from the 12th century, and the so-called "New Palace" on the left dates from the 14th. It's said that the old, arthritic, and sometimes very overweight archbishops used to be hauled up the interior's monumental Louis XIII -- style stairs on mules.

    We first decided to admire the facade for some time during a drink we had at a café at the main square. After that break it was time to explore this beautiful ancient building. We entered the main entrance, which is also the entrance of a luxurious hotel. Once we were at the inner square of the Palace we read a sign that stated that this palace is notable for its many towers, such as the Gilles Aycelin Keep (late 13th - early 14th century), which we could see from the very spot we were standing. Other important towers are the Saint Martial and Madeleine twoers (13th century) both made of Romanesque origin. After that we walked towards the new part of the palace and noticed some Gothic style remodelled towers of the 17th and 18th century.

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    Palais des Archeveques - Archbishop's Palace

    by Jerelis Written Aug 22, 2011
    Paulien and Cyrille in front of the Palais.
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    The historic town of Narbonne was a provincial capital in Roman times and is littered with ancient monuments, grand old buildings and various museums. Once we reached the main square of Narbonne we witnessed its rich cultural inheritance when we faced its historic facades, reconstructed by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, the Narbonne Cathedral and the remains of the Roman Via Domitia in front of the Palais des Archeveques (Archbishop's Palace).

    The very impressive Archbishop's Palace is built between the 12th and 14th century and is now the home of two notable museums. The Museum of Art occupies the first floor, refurbished during the 17th century for the Archbishops, and houses a very rich collection of paintings, aquarelles, and designs of the 17th- to 19th-century French school. There is also an important collection of faiences and ceramics. The Archeological Museum is located in the Palais Vieux (Old Palace), the rooms of which date from the Middle Ages. The collections consist of objects found during the excavations of various sites in Aude, ranging from prehistoric to the Middle Ages. The Antiquity section is particularly well-represented.

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    Narbonne Cathedral - Quite a history.

    by Jerelis Written Aug 18, 2011

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    The backside of the Narbonne Cathedral.
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    The cathedral is situated in the heart of the present city of Narbonne, but in the Middle Ages was located by the city wall. This placement was due to a long history of the site as a place of worship. We learned that in 313 a Constantinian basilica was erected on the same spot as the present cathedral. Ruined by a fire in 441 a Latin basilica was constructed here. Little remains of this building as it fell into ruin. The idea to build a Gothic cathedral was a plitical decision made in 1268 and started with the foundation of the current Chapelk of the Sacred Heart.

    The two towers, 60 metres tall and dating from 1480, provide a sweeping view of the surrounding countryside. The interior features a tall vaulted choir, fresoes and Flemish tapestries. The 14th and 15th century cloisters connect Norbonne Cathedral to the neighboring Archbishops' Palace. We were not able to see this part as we arrived to close to the closing time of 18:00u. Instead we took a strawl around the cathedral to see it in its full beauty.

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    Narbonne Cathedral - Lighting a candle.

    by Jerelis Written Aug 18, 2011

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    Cyrille and Sam just lighted a candle.
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    Although we were quite late when we first arrived at the Narbonne Cathedral we were still allowed to enter it. A huge advantage of our late arrival was the fact that there were almost no tourists left. Either the bus / coach had already left or everybody was drinking a beer in the pubs. Whenever we visit a cathedral the kids always want to burn a candle, it has become a bit of a tradition. The sight of burning votive candles - real or electronic - is common in most Catholic cathedrals. The candles are usually placed before statues of saints or at shrines. But how did this tradition get its start?

    According to A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals, by Ann Ball, the practice of lighting candles in order to obtain some favor probably has its origins in the custom of burning lights at the tombs of the martyrs in the catacombs. The lights burned as a sign of solidarity with Christians still on earth. Because the lights continually burned as a silent vigil, they became known as vigil lights. Vigil Lights (from the Latin vigilia, which means "waiting" or "watching") are traditionally accompanied by prayers of attention or waiting. Another common type of candle offering is the votive light. Such an offering is indicative of seeking some favor from the Lord or the saint before which the votive is placed. So for us lighting a candle is a way of extending our prayer and showing solidarity with the person on whose behalf our prayer is offered.

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    Narbonne Cathedral - Saint-Just-et-Saint-Pasteur.

    by Jerelis Written Aug 18, 2011

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    The main entrance of the Cathedral.
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    Built by decree from Rome in 188 BC as a trading post along the newly constructed Via Dolmitia, Narbonne (then known as narbo) grew to become the capital of the Roman province Narbonensis and one of the most important cities in southern Gaul. As a proof of its importance the Saint Just and Saint Pasteur Cathedral and the neighboring Archbishop's Palace form the centre of the city.

    It's nice to tell that the Narbonne Cathedral remains unfinished since the laying of the first stone in 1272. The old plans required a partial demolition of the ancient town wall, but the town council (fearing enemy invasions) refused to allow it at that time. This amazing fact has left Narbonne Cathedral with only the choir and transept completed. But anyway, it is a place definately worth a visit. It dominates the skyline of Narbonne, but it amazed us that the main road towards the main entrance is just a very small street. Don't miss it.

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    Always take a walk

    by Beausoleil Written Jul 22, 2010

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    Walk from Hotel de Ville to the Cathedral
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    Discover a place on foot and you will see a lot more. If you haven't been there before and want a quick overview, ride one of the little tourist trains. You will be accompanied by other tourists, mostly French, and mostly adult. It's a good way to get your bearings before you set off on foot.

    Or . . . visit the local Tourist Office and get a free map. That is a great help. They are also good at finding accomodation and recommending restaurants.

    In Narbonne, the Tourist Office is beside a canal lock and it's fun to watch boats going through the lock if your timing is good.

    If you arrive on market day, wander through the market and talk to the vendors. You will be given a lot of samples and may even find yourself buying a picnic.

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    Go to heaven

    by alza Written May 12, 2010

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    From the top of Saint-Just Cathedral in Narbonne

    we climbed to the top of the Cathedral in Narbonne and it's worth it. Great views!
    The Cathedral is called Saint-Just, which translates easily to St.Just, so everyone's happy. Justice is cool...

    I'm actually doing a test here, about building pages, making tips, etc. But I really think I might take this seriously and write about Narbonne, it's a great place in the Midi and I think it gets overlooked too easily. See you later!

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