Top places to visit in Castelnaudary

Walking tour – Duration: 45 minutes – Distance: 2mi

Welcome to Castelnaudary! Castelnaudary is located in the south of France, in Languedoc Roussillon, and overlooks the Fresquel plain. It is the capital of Lauragais and the birthplace of the traditional dish "Le Cassoulet." It’s also where one of Le Boat’s bases is located, right on the Grand Bassin. Its brick houses and mansions tightly surround the présidial and the collegiate, reflecting in the waters of the Grand Bassin. Follow us on a walk around the town! It’s ideal for families because the path is well-marked with white/red and yellow markers. If you're walking with children, don't forget to bring water, binoculars, and some biscuits!

Table of contents:

Map of the walking tour of the top places to see in Castelnaudary

View the map of our walking tour around Castelnaudary

Le Grand Bassin Castelnaudary

Le Grand Bassin

Our walk starts at Le Boat’s base in Castelnaudary, situated at Le Grand Bassin. This water basin is unique for its size: with its 7 hectares, it’s as big as the medieval city of Carcassonne (within its walls). Strolling along Le Grand Bassin offers one of the most beautiful views of the city.

A little history of the Grand Bassin

Le Grand Bassin is exposed to strong winds, both the Cers (a violent and dry wind from the northwest of Narbonne, cold in winter and hot in summer) and the Autan (a southeast wind "that drives the locals mad," blowing for 1, 3, or 6 days at a time, followed by rain). Tired of falling into the water and seeing their boats fall as well, the inhabitants of the Bassin decided to build a breakwater island in 1754: the island of Cybèle.

Canal du Midi

At the end of Quai de la Cybèle, take the Old Bridge and continue to the left of Le Grand Bassin. You might spot the Swan Rodolphe and the coypus playing in the water! Let's continue along our route, passing in front of the train station. Keep going straight along the plane tree-lined promenade. Cross the street and take the Passage des Lavandières to reach the towpath next to the Canal du Midi. A better time than ever to take a little break and take photos, have a drink, and eat a sandwich under the majestic trees. Follow the path to the New Bridge, cross the street, and this time, turn left.

Eat Cassoulet in Castelnaudary!

Walk along the harbour and climb the Cours de la République until you reach the "Maison du Cassoulet," where you can taste the famous Cassoulet of the region.

Moulin de Cugarel

Place de la République & Le Moulin de Cugarel

From the Cours de la République, walk 200m up the street and turn left onto the Place de la République. Go around the square and turn right onto Place de la Liberté, cross rue de l'Arcade, continue on Place Saint-Louis, and pass under the gate of the old city walls. Continue straight on rue des Moulins and climb up the hill to see Moulin de Cugareland the panoramic view it offers of the Fresquel plain and the Montagne Noire. Moulin de Cugarel is the only remaining mill of the 32 that surrounded the city in the 17th century. It operated until 1921 when the city was one of the most important ports between Toulouse and the sea..

Saint-Jean-Baptiste church Castelnaudary

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church

Cross Place du Cugarel and descend rue de la Comédie, turn left onto rue de l'Horloge and Grand-rue. On your right is the old market (Les Halles), and on your left are bourgeois houses. Just after the Lapatie Mansion (1 Grand-rue), turn right onto rue Terrasse and stop at Place des Cordeliers. On your right, admire the Bataille Mansion (listed as a historical monument for its wrought ironwork), and right in front is the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church,a vestige of the former Cordeliers Convent (15th century). At the end of the street, why not take a little break at Square Victor Hugo?

Collégiale St-Michel and Lauragais Museum

Ready? Let's continue... Pass under the bell tower that crosses rue Saint Michel. This street was formerly known as the rue des 4 vents; “Street of the 4 winds”. Once there, you will be able to see that this street is truly deserving of its name.   At any given time and day of the year, the wind on this street is particularly strong. To the right of the street is the Collégiale Saint-Michel. Built in the 13th century, this college has one of the most beautiful carillons in the Midi;the bells chime every quarter of an hour, plus the Angelus at 12 pm and 7 pm. Follow rue du Collège to the Lauragais Museum   . Built in the 16th century by Catherine de' Medici, Queen of France and Countess of Lauragais, it was constructed on the ruins of the founding Castle of the city of Castèl nòu d'Ari. The museum is located in the old jail right next to the présidial of the city (civil and criminal court). 

Notre Dame de la Pitié and the Porte-Vieille

As you cross the street, look to your left. Can you see a chapel that looks abandoned and neglected? Take a chance, step inside and be prepared to be blown away. Notre Dame de la Pitié (Our Lady of Pity) features artisanal carpentry and interior decorations dating back to the 17th century. It consists of 10 meticulously carved wooden panels in Italian style depicting the Passion of Christ. 

Descend Rue des Batailleries and pass through Porte-Vieille, take the staircase on the left, and head back to "Le Grand Bassin".

Whether you're exploring the town's architectural marvels, indulging in the local gastronomy, or immersing yourself in the beauty of the Canal du Midi, Castelnaudary promises an unforgettable experience for every visitor. So, plan your visit to this charming town and embark on a journey filled with history, culture, and culinary delights!


What is Castelnaudary famous for?

Castelnaudary is renowned for being the capital of Lauragais and the birthplace of the traditional French dish called "Le Cassoulet." This hearty casserole typically includes white beans, various meats, and spices, making it a must-try culinary delight for visitors.

How can I explore Castelnaudary?

There are various ways to explore Castelnaudary. You can take a guided tour to learn about the city's history and culture, rent a bike to navigate the charming streets, or simply take a leisurely walk to discover the town's hidden gems, following the itinerary above.

Are there any day trips from Castelnaudary?

Yes, Castelnaudary serves as an excellent base for day trips to nearby attractions. You can visit the historic city of Carcassonne, explore the picturesque villages of Lauragais, or indulge in wine tasting in the nearby vineyards.

Can I rent a boat to cruise the Canal du Midi in Castelnaudary?

Absolutely! Castelnaudary is a popular starting point for renting boats to cruise along the scenic Canal du Midi. It offers a unique opportunity to discover the region's beauty at a leisurely pace and enjoy the tranquillity of the waterways.

Discover boating holidays on the Canal du Midi with Le Boat.

What are some of the cultural events taking place in Castelnaudary?

Throughout the year, Castelnaudary hosts various cultural events and festivals that showcase the region's traditions and heritage. The Cassoulet Festival, held annually in August, is a highlight where visitors can indulge in different variations of this beloved dish and enjoy live entertainment.

Ready to discover Castelnaudary and the Canal du Midi for yourself?

Explore Castelnaudary and the stunning Canal du Midi Region on a Le Boat cruise!