The main focal point of the old center of Narbonne is a lovely square that reminds me very much of Munich. Very formal and gothic, yet a very lively square, surrounded by busy shops and cafes. I loved the medieval section of Narbonne, I was very impressed with the beauty and energy of this city.
Connecting the Archibiship's apartments and the Cathédrale St-Just-et-St-Pasteur is the very striking cloister. Built in the 14th century, the cloister is very beautiful, with intriquing worn down gargoyles, gothic arched walkways, and a lovely interior garden. I thought the cloister was one of the prettiest I had seen in France.
Outside of the Medieval section of town are grand Boulevards lined with rows of manacured trees and Edwardian and Art Nouveau townhomes. This part of Narbonne really reminded me of Paris, and was very pretty and quite unexpected. You will start to see these buildings on the east side of the canal as you walk towards the older gothic section.
This underground Roman warehouse is extremely atmospheric, unusual and well worth visiting. Only two of its 'wings' have been excavated so far, their 'cells' now housing bits of Roman statuary and carvings from elsewhere in the city.
..........make sure you see the elaborate altar piece, carved and painted in the 14th century, covered over in the 18th and rediscovered in 1981. It's damaged, but you can still see the complexity of its design and imagine how stunning it must have been when first unveiled.
The Robine Canal runs from the Aude River to provide a passage through the center of Narbonne. Promenades are present here on each side of the canal. Only a few boats are commercial in type stopping on each bank, most are for pleasure, without stopping. The parking for sightseeing is on the far bank from the famous sights. Neverless walking along the Canal is one of the things to do. On the parking side of the Canal is les Halles (with a bust of E. Ferroul).
The archaeological museum in the Palais Vieux contains beautiful Roman mosaics, stunning wall-paintings and a huge quantity of Roman artefacts of all types. It also has an excellent section devoted to the prehistory of the region, with some wonderful stone axes, trepanned skulls and examples af Paleolithic art. I was really impressed by the clear, accessible way the exhibits were displayed.................makes a nice change from some of the museums I have visited!
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.
The main facade inside the courtyard is the Grand Escalier and Balustrade. While at the southwest edge are the upper reaches of the Donjon of Gilles-Aycelin. At the east is the Tower St. Martial and running inward are the outer exit and the inner parts of the Passage de l'Ancre with a fine vaulted area. One of the sections contains the Salle des Synodes which leads is the Audience room, somewhat decreased in height in more recent times but still impressive. From here one visits the Art and History Museum.
Narbonnne has some lovely Medieval architecture in and around the Cathedral. Across the canal are some nice very old courtyards and squares near the very old Basilique St-Paul-Serge. This ancient church was built over a 4th century pagen temple.
The older palace surrounds the sections of the old Palace which enclose the Place de la Madeleine, which has on its East side the Tower of the Madeleine. The earliest section is along its western edge.
The pretty Canal de la Robine makes the town very relaxing and cool in the summer. Have a picnic lunch by the banks or just take a stroll, it's very nice and romantic. There are parks above the banks overlooking the canal.
The archeological museum occupies the main part of the Arch bishops' Old Palace. You will find an important collection of prehistoric, protohistoric and above all, Gallo-Roman collections. Almost all were found locally. I really loved the frescoes and the large Roman mosaic in the Paleo-Christian room..... This museum is worth a visit!
The very long choir is able to within it enclose sides accommodate entire sides of the cloister to the south. The bays are large and tall with tetragonal vaults but with different functions along each side with a Chapel of the Annunciation beyond the East Cloister side and an exit on the south side to the Archbishop's Palace. The sides were built between 1349 and 1417. A piece of fine belvedere was created above the church side of the cloister.
The west side of the palace is just south of the Cathedral. Next to its garden are fine pieces of fanciful bas-relief animals which are elements of the Musee holdings and are associated with other emblems and portrait items that are in the Synod rooms.