July 6, 2019

12 Spots to Get to Know Narbonne

France is a massive vault of tourist attractions with the magnificence of Paris, Normandy war history, the Loire Valley castles, Cannes' glitz and glamour, Lyon's gastronomical scene, Bordeaux vineyards, and the French Alps, to name a few.

The lesser known regions may get overlooked from time to time, but if you really want to dig deeper into another version of French history and culture, then the Occitanie region has loads to offer. The larger cities of Toulouse and Marseille anchor this beautiful area that includes both mountains and coastline, and Narbonne is planted between them near the coast. Another gorgeous city nearby is Carcassonne, also complete with its own walled-in city and history.

I was lucky enough to have my French friend, Adeline, who lives in nearby Sauvian, take me on this tour of Narbonne. Narbonne is her claimed ville préférée and she made sure all of the details of Narbonne's grandeur and charm were displayed and explained to me in proper French. Now I am happy to share the highlights in English for the visitors who are interested in what Narbonne has to say for itself.

Narbonne hails from Roman times, founded around 100 B.C. The markings of the Roman Empire are worth finding, from the Roman Wolf Sculpture arched above where Rue Droite ends into Place du Forum, to the unearthed remnant of La Via Domitia in the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville.

Take a moment to stop by Glacier Marguerite for some of the best artisan ice cream you'll ever have! There are a limited number of flavors to ensure high quality, and also to ease the indecision of ice cream lovers...but don't worry, all of the flavors are amazing! This is a specific recommendation from Adeline, whose weekly visits to Narbonne always include a small ice cream for her and her sons to enjoy in the main square.

The impressively unfinished Cathédrale de Saint-Just et Saint-Pasteur dominates the historic center and lends an interesting story to the ebb and flow of health and wealth in the Middle Ages.

If completed, this church would be one of the tallest in France, but due to complications with the building plans (part of the city wall was going to have to be torn down!), and followed by a sweep of the plague throughout the population, it somehow made more sense to just leave it the way it was.

Wind around some corners and alleys to find the Palais des Archevêques. This former palace for the archbishops gives you a chance to explore the exhibits inside before heading up the donjon tower for fabulous views over the center of Narbonne.

Reaching the Canal de la Robine will lead you to a serene and shady promenade of shops, cafés, and walking bridges. The main attraction in this area is Les Halles de Narbonne, the covered city market. You can find all the great local flavors and personalities here, selling their goods, sampling fresh fruits and vegetables, and even grab a coffee and all sorts of snacks at the various market restaurants. The market energy is alive and well, and is the perfect place to experience the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Narbonne.

There are fountains, monuments, and gardens dotted throughout the city center that provide a nice respite from the sometimes overbearing sunshine and long walks. Make your way to the Jardin de l'Archvêché, Jardin des Vicomtes, or Place Thérèse Léon Blum for the most green and relaxing spaces.

Narbonne has so much to give to its visitors, especially with a majority of sunny days throughout the entire year. It can get windy, so be prepared with the right clothing, and don't bother bringing a hat!


For the stories and photos from my entire trip, check out the main post, South of France: Aude to Hérault.


Find the rest of my navigational GPSmyCity app article cities HERE.