Situated just nine miles from the Mediterranean Sea, the once prosperous port town of Narbonne in southwestern France is now enjoyed for its beaches, relaxing boat rides along the canal running through the town center and its proximity to the surrounding vineyards.
If you are driving to Narbonne, take the A61 motorway from Toulouse in the west, the A75 if travelling from Paris and Clermont Ferrand or the A9 should you be heading to the city from over the Spanish border or from Perpignan in the south.
The nearest airport is located at Carcassonne which is a half hour drive away. The airports at Beziers, Perpignan and Montpellier are also within easy driving distance of Narbonne.
The city is serviced by good rail and bus links. The regional train service connects Narbonne to Bordeaux, Marseille, Toulouse and Tarascon – Port-Bou. The TGV high-speed rail also runs to Narbonne daily, linking the city with Perpignan, Paris, Lille, Toulouse and Lyon. The city itself has a network of buses, with six routes servicing the city and another six to the outer-lying suburbs.
Narbonne dates back to the Roman period, however much of this heritage has since been destroyed. It then flourished as a major port until the 15th century, at which time the Aude River changed its course and the harbour silted-up. Today, the town thrives on visitors to the surrounding wine country.
Amongst Narbonne’s main attractions are:
- Canal de la Robine which cuts through the middle of the town and is lined with trees and colourful barges. Every Sunday a good market runs on both sides of the canal. If you continue to cruise along the canal via the aqueduct at Guery, the amazing staircase locks provide access to the famous wine-growing areas of Fonsérannes to Béziers.
- Cathedrale St-Just et St-Saveur, a stunning Gothic built in 1272 cathedral featuring stained glass and tapestries. The first stone laid during its construction was sent from Rome by Pope Clement IV.
- Dating back to the Roman era the Horreum is an underground maze of granaries.
- Musee d’Archeologie et de Prehistoire has displays explaining Narbonne’s Roman history.
- Palais des Archevêques was the palace of the Archbishops of Narbonne and consists of a mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
- The remains of Via Domitia, the first Roman road built in Gaul can be seen in the city center.
- Every morning there is a food market in Les Halles selling fresh local produce, cheeses, pastries and wines.