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Visiting the railroad station at Carcassonne, France: gracious structure dating from the Second Empire period

Updated on March 1, 2013
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Carcassonne railroad station
Carcassonne railroad station | Source
Map location of Aude department, France
Map location of Aude department, France | Source

Recalling the Imperial background to railroad infrastructure

As if it were even necessary, this railroad station in Carcassonne, France, is yet another reminder of the Second Empire provenance of much of France's infrastructure.

The gracious, Classical lines of this historic building's frontage date from 1857. Napoleon III reigned as French Emperor between 1852 and 1870, and these years encapsulated considerable technological and economic development which went hand in hand with the expansion of France's railroad network.

The recurring, Classical pediments on this frontage are particularly noteworthy for their rounded nature (1). Stylistically, the rounded pediments fit with the repeated arching which is also present at the historic frontage. They also blend tastefully with the ornate clock set in the pediment above the central arch.

The station is located somewhat at a distance from the famous, hilltop citadel fortifications for which Carcassonne is famed. But it is built a short distance from the historic Canal du Midi linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, which passes through the city. Interestingly, the original railroad company responsible for the station was known, in full, as: Compagnie des chemins de fer du Midi et du Canal latéral à la Garonne (2).

While it might not have been surprising if rail passenger numbers should have fallen significantly in recent years, as has happened in various Western countries, yet passenger use of Carcassonne railroad station has actually been booted in recent times by the expansion of Carcassonne Salvaza airport, many of whose travellers have come from northern Europe on low cost airline flights, and use the station to make their onward journey.

As might be expected, this station is now managed by the French railroad company SNCF (3). The building is situated at 1 Boulevard Maréchal Joffre, Carcassonne, in the Aude department of France's Languedoc-Roussillon region.

March 2, 2013


(1) Rounded pediments are sometimes referred to as segmental pediments.

(2) Roughly, in translation: Southern and Garonne Canal Railroad Company, often referred to as Compagnie des chemins de fer du Midi Southern Railroad Company.

(3) SNCF stands for Société Nationale des Chemins de fer français, created in 1938 (also responsible for railroad services and infrastructure in the Principality of Monaco).

Also worth seeing

In Carcasonne itself, in addition to the citadel fortifications by Viollet-le-Duc, there are the Medieval Carcassonne Cathedral and the likewise Medieval Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse.

Toulouse (distance: 94 kilometres) ; has numerous, historic visitor attractions, including the the Capitole, and the Saint-Sernin Basilica.


How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ), where car rental is available; there are also domestic air services between Paris and Carcasonne airport (Aéroport de Carcassonne Salvaza ), where car rental is also available. The French railroad company SNCF (see also Note 3, above) maintains services from Paris to Carcassonne (Paris-Carcassonne: distance: 768 kilometres). Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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