Narbonne – a major draw for those taking advantage of a holiday rental on the Canal du Midi

While there’s no doubt of the wealth of attractions to be seen from a holiday rental on the Canal du Midi, many holidaymakers in this part of France will certainly not want to miss out on a visit to the important Roman city of Narbonne. While some in the Languedoc region may spend more time in the more grandiose surroundings of Avignon or Carcassonne, those in the mood for a smaller, albeit still very charming city will not be disappointed when they make Narbonne their day trip destination.

This is not to suggest that Narbonne wasn’t once grander itself. It was, in fact, formerly the capital of the Languedoc region, an industrious metropolis that may seem far removed from the tranquil medieval streets of the present-day town. Only around 50,000 people now live in this compact settlement, with its prosperity largely dependent on the local wine industry that makes the most of the highly regarded nearby Corbières vineyards.

However much time you choose to spend here from your holiday rental on the Canal du Midi, you’ll see abundant evidence of a rich and storied history. This was the place, after all, that was built by decree from Rome as a trading post in 118 BC, eventually becoming one of southern Gaul’s most important cities. The sixth century saw it become the capital of the Visigoths, only for disaster to strike in the Middle Ages in the form of the plague, bursting dykes and a silted-up port.

It took until the mid-19th century for the city’s fortunes to again brighten, with the arrival of the railway and a blossoming wine industry. It’s easy to chart all of these historical developments in the architecture and attractions that you see when visiting Narbonne from your holiday rental on the Canal du Midi. There is the wonderfully Gothic Archbishop’s Palace, for instance, now the home of the town hall, as well as the incomplete – but still impressive Cathédrale Saint-Just-et-Saint-Pasteur de Narbonne. Only one actual Roman building survives, however – the horreum, or former granary.

However, one should never assume that Narbonne is only ever a city of the past. If one wishes to see conclusive evidence of its ability to look without hesitation or fear towards the future, one only needs to look at the plans for the forthcoming Musée de la Romanité Narbonne, or the Roman Museum. One may imagine that a museum of Roman antiquity – which will house more than 1,000 ancient stone reliefs – would draw on the services of a more historically sensitive architect. Instead, Norman Foster’s somewhat more futuristic aesthetic has been given the nod.

Nonetheless, with the museum set to incorporate not only galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, but also a library, multimedia education centre, grounds with amphitheatre and more, it’s set to become another big reason to visit Narbonne from a holiday rental on the Canal du Midi, once construction has finally been completed.

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