Narbonne

With its 2500 years of history, Narbonne is a city with a rich and varied historical and cultural heritage: it was the oldest Roman colony in Gaul.
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In the heart of Occitania, Narbonne is one of its most famous cities. The city centre, with its cultural heritage spanning more than 2000 years of history, can easily be visited in a day. If you plan to explore its surroundings as well, we recommend extending your stay by a couple of days.

With its mild and sunny climate, this interesting Mediterranean city of Roman origin holds many historical treasures and is surrounded by fine sandy beaches amidst unspoilt nature: you are in the Narbonnaise Regional Natural Park, surrounded by lagoons and vineyards.

Things to do in Narbonne

A city of art and history, Narbonne is the oldest Roman colony in Gaul. Rightly nicknamed the eldest daughter of Rome outside Italy, its historic centre bears witness to twenty-three centuries of history.

The city is traversed by the Canal de la Robine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its lively market, museums, religious buildings and rich historical heritage, Narbonne is a year-round destination.

Via Domitia

1VC Giratoire de la Liberté, 11100 Narbonne, France

Narbonne (Narbo Martius from its Latin name), founded in 118 BC, was the first and one of the richest Roman colonies outside Italy. It still preserves a real treasure: a piece of the Via Domizia, which you can admire in the city centre.

In fact, this incredible vestige of the ancient road that connected Italy to Spain in the 2nd century BC was discovered in 1997: beautifully restored, it now characterises Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, in the heart of the Cité district.

Much loved by children, the Via Domizia is an original place where locals like to gather to chat.

Archbishops' Palace

2Palace of the Archbishops, Pl. de l'Hôtel de Ville, 11100 Narbonne, France

Next to the town hall of Narbonne is the Palais Neuf and the former flats of the archbishops. Modelled and extended over more than eight centuries, the palace forms an architectural ensemble that is simultaneously civil, military and religious.

The building houses some rich art collections, majolica and beautiful paintings painted between the 16th and 19th centuries. The architecture and decoration of the rooms alone, such as the frescoed ceilings, are true works of art. The museum also has a collection of archaeological pieces and furniture covering local history from prehistory to the Middle Ages.

Don’t forget to climb the 162 steps of the 42-metre-high keep, built between 1295 and 1306 by Archbishop Gilles Aycelin: it will give you a magnificent view over the city and the Mediterranean. In addition, every year, the Festival Ma Vigne en Musique organises concerts in the main hall of the synods.

Narbo Via Museum

32 Av. André Mècle, 11100 Narbonne, France (Website)

A work designed by the famous British architect Norman Foster, the Narbo Via Museum, opening in May 2021, bears witness to the richness of the ancient city of Narbo Martius on almost 3200 square metres of exhibition space.

In order to best portray the six-century-long Roman history of Narbonne, the rooms are organised around a chrono-thematic thread that starts at the time of the founding of the colony and city of Narbo Martius at the end of the 2nd century BC and ends in 462 when the city finally came under the rule of the Visigoths.

Situated at the eastern entrance to the city and along the Robine Canal, the Narbo Via Museum allows visitors to discover the riches of the ancient city, the first Roman colony founded in Gaul in 118 B.C.: you can admire a collection of more than 7,000 items, including wall paintings and an exceptional set of 760 fragments of funerary monuments scattered on an animated wall unique in Europe.

Narbo Via is also a facility dedicated to research. As such, it has a restoration laboratory, a study room for the collections, a documentation room and an auditorium with almost 200 seats that can host conferences and conventions.

The cathedral of Saint-Just and Saint-Pasteur

4Rue Armand Gauthier, 11100 Narbonne, France

In radiant Gothic style, the cathedral of Saint-Just and Saint-Pasteur has a bold architecture. Dominating the city, it was built between the 13th and 14th centuries. Its vaults of over 40 metres will make you dizzy.

Built between 1272 and 1340, the cathedral remained unfinished as the Consuls refused, in those turbulent times, to destroy the ramparts to continue construction. The axial chapel Notre Dame de Bethléem features a 14th-century altarpiece in polychrome stone. The Treasury room, also known as the acoustic room, offers a rich and valuable collection of liturgical objects, ivories, goldwork and tapestries.

Les Halles de Narbonne

5Halles centrales de Narbonne Boulevard docteur Ferroul, 1 Cr Mirabeau, 11100 Narbonne, France (Website)

The covered market of Narbonne consists of more than 66 traders offering their colourful stalls. The building, in the Baltard style, was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century. Its pillars, its stone doors and the transparency of its large windows lend a majestic air to this large market.

Here you can breathe in the Mediterranean air and it is a must-see place during your visit to the city. Locals frequent the market for its warm atmosphere and friendly traders. It is a welcoming place, especially on Sunday mornings or just before noon for an aperitif.

Don’t hesitate to sample the region’s typical products and linger in the many small restaurants inside, where you can dine on tapas de la Clape, fresh oysters and grilled meat from Bébelle.

Horreum

67 Rue Rouget de Lisle, 11100 Narbonne, France (Website)

The horreum is one of the few vestiges of Roman antiquity still accessible. In the heart of the modern city, it consists of underground tunnels built in the 1st century BC 5 metres underground. They must have formed the foundations of a building, no doubt a market or warehouse, which archaeologists are still investigating.

This building was located south of the forum, on the edge of the cardo (north-south axis) of the Roman city of Narbo Martius. The underground tunnels have survived over the centuries through various alterations and their partial re-use as private cellars. Officially discovered in 1838, they were classified as Historical Monuments in 1961, then fitted out and opened to the public in 1976.

Canal de la Robine

7Canal de la Robine, 11100 Narbonne, France

A link between the Aube and the Mediterranean, the canal is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Travelling along it on foot or by bicycle means treating yourself to a relaxing escape from the city, as well as crossing a variety of landscapes, going as far as the outskirts of Narbonne. In fact, the canal skirts the Bages and Sigean ponds, heading towards the Sainte-Lucie Island nature reserve before flowing into the Mediterranean at Port-la-Nouvelle.

Don’t miss the Merchants’ Bridge, of Roman origin, overlooked by houses with pretty coloured facades. This bridge consisted of seven arches and allowed people to enter the ancient city from the south. Located today in the heart of the old town, it is surrounded by shopping streets.

Surrounded by magnificent pine trees, the Canal crosses Sallèles-d’Aude and joins the Canal du Midi, which passes to the north of Narbonne.

Best day trips from Narbonne

Abbey of Sainte-Marie de Fontfroide

If you have time to spare, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the magnificent surroundings of Narbonne, where you can choose from nature reserves, lagoons, navigable canals and beautiful sandy beaches.

Plage des Chalets

Just a 20-minute drive from the city centre, the seaside resort of Narbonne boasts 5 km of fine sandy beaches.

Surrounded by a promenade of over 2 km, you can relax on this unspoilt beach, characterised by chalets on stilts, at the foot of the Massif de la Clape, a stone’s throw from the Camargue and its unique landscapes.

Massif de la Clape

A protected, natural and wild area, the Clape massif is well worth the diversions. You can explore the massif and its vineyards on foot or by bicycle, taking the belvedere road to Narbonne Plage.

The massif is an ancient wooded island with 15,000 hectares of protected nature, 17 km long and about 8 km wide: it covers 15,000 hectares and culminates at Pech Redon, 214 metres above sea level. This area is home to no less than 33 protected plant species and almost 62 bird species have been recorded. It offers a unique landscape composed of a succession of rocky plateaus separated by narrow ravines. Facing the sea, extensive pine forests consisting mainly of Aleppo pine can be observed, while holm oaks and maritime pines dominate to the west.

In this extraordinary natural site, there are many hikes that can be done on foot, by bicycle or even on horseback.

Fontfroide Abbey

10RD 613 Chem. de Fontfroide, 11100 Narbonne, France (Website)

Ten minutes from Narbonne, in the heart of the Regional Natural Park of Narbonnaise, hides a treasure from the Middle Ages, which preserves within its walls all the spirituality of the Cistercian monks alongside the originality of Gustave Fayet, artist and patron, who bought Fontfroide in 1908.

Fontfroide Abbey was founded at the end of the 11th century and quickly became one of the richest abbeys in Europe, before suffering a slow decline until the French Revolution. In 1908, the estate was saved by Gustave Fayet, a friend of Paul Gauguin. Under his leadership, Fontfroide became a place of artistic encounters and creative effervescence. Today, the abbey is still passionately maintained by his heirs.

The abbey has thus preserved intact the 12th-century cloister and abbey church, the chapter house, the monks’ refectory and dormitory and the magnificent 17th-century courtyards. We recommend you visit the terraced gardens and rose gardens, an invitation to contemplation and silence, and then immerse yourself in the busy programmes of music and culture promoted by internationally renowned artists, who are regularly welcomed to this special place.

Terra Vinea

11Chem. des Plâtrières, 11490 Portel-des-Corbières, France (Website)

For almost 200 years, this mine with 35 kilometres of underground galleries housed tons of gypsum. After the quarry closed its doors in 1992, the village winegrowers wanted to continue the miners’ adventure and turned these exceptionally large old galleries into an ageing cellar for wine and a place to discover.

A little train will transport you to the gates of the depths of the earth, to descend 80 metres below the Corbières massif and experience a journey through time, discovering the vestiges of the history of vines and wine in Narbonnaise, from antiquity to the present day.

The descent from the Galerie Boisée will take you to the heart of the wine cellar: here, Terra Vinea today stores 1,500 225-litre barrels at a constant temperature of 16°C . The visit continues through various rooms in the underground galleries for almost a kilometre. In 1 hour and 30 minutes, a sound and light show, virtual animations and a tasting of several carefully selected local wines await you.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Where to stay in Narbonne

The hotel offer in Narbonne is vast and diversified: from hotels in the centre to campsites in the countryside, from cottages by the sea to nights on a boat.

You can easily find the solution that suits your needs, depending on the type of holiday you have in mind.

Bourg Quarter

The medieval quarter of Bourg was born in the 5th century and remained the economic heart of the city for a long time, with taverns, workshops and workers’ houses. It lies between the Cité and Bourg districts and borders the Canal de la Robine. The latter is crossed by the Marchands bridge and is lined with houses with beautiful colourful facades.

Choosing a hotel in the heart of Narbonne allows you to stroll through the labyrinth of narrow, picturesque streets of the district, admire the remains of ancient medieval vestiges and pretty half-timbered houses.

Moreover, the historical centre is conveniently located for visiting the city’s must-see sights, such as the Saint-Paul Church, Place des Quatre Fontaines and Les Halles. An atmosphere at once touristy and popular pleasantly pervades the alleys of the old town.

Cité district

Also in the city centre, the Cité quarter is separated from the old town by the Robine canal: it once housed the nobility and the clergy.

Sleeping in Narbonne in this district throws you into the heart of the city of art and history. At the same time, this area is perfect for your evenings and moments of relaxation, thanks to the presence of numerous bars and restaurants between Place Thérèse-Léon Blum and the streets adjacent to the Cours Mirabeau.

Narbonne-Plage

Outside the city, a few kilometres away, Narbonne-Plage is the ideal place to enjoy the sea. Growing from 2,500 permanent residents to more than 30,000 in summer, Narbonne-Plage offers a range of accommodation and hotels suitable for holidaymakers.

There are many family-friendly recreational activities here such as water parks, a market located on the seafront and almost 5 kilometres of beach, ponds and fishing huts. Narbonne-Plage is also a typical marina, with a nautical base, a diving and fishing club, a sailing school and cruises along the coast.

Horte-Neuve

If you want to sleep in Narbonne in a decentralised area but not too far from the tourist attractions, then you can choose Horte-Neuve.

This residential area is a 5-minute drive and a 30-minute walk from the city centre. Its location and the tranquillity of the neighbourhood make it an ideal base for exploring the city or discovering the Clape massif and the nearby Mediterranean beaches, such as Narbonne-Plage or Gruissan .

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How to get to Narbonne

50 minutes from Carcassonne and Perpignan, the city of Narbonne is located at the crossroads of the sea, the Corbières and the Catalan Pyrenees.

By plane

The most convenient way to reach Narbonne is to take a direct flight to Toulouse Airport or a flight with a stopover to Montpellier airport. From there you can rent a car and drive to your destination.

By car

Narbonne is located at the junction of the A9 (to Perthus, Spain) and A61 (to Toulouse) motorways. It is located approx:

By train

If you plan to travel by train, know that the city of Narbonne is served by the regional train and TGV lines:

Narbonne Weather

What's the weather at Narbonne? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Narbonne for the next few days.

Saturday 2
15°
Sunday 3
11°
Monday 4
13°
Tuesday 5
13°
Wednesday 6
13°
Thursday 7
12°

Where is located Narbonne

Narbonne is located in the Aude department in south-west France, between Montpellier and Perpignan, a stone's throw from the famous Carcassonne.

Location around