Narbonne as founded as “Narbo”, a Roman settlement on the Via Domitia that grew rich from sea trade via its natural harbour.
You can get a feel for the splendour of Norbo’s Roman homes at the Archbishop’s Palace, where wall-paintings retrieved from ancient villas form the largest collection of Roman painting in France.
The medieval palace that contains them is Narbonne’s showpiece, a jumble of towers, halls and courtyards that convey the changing fortunes of the city.
That lucrative harbour silted up in medieval times, but Narbonne adapted with the Canal de la Robine, a green belt of water with historic bridges and elegant boulevards on either side, connecting with the Canal du Midi.
Lets explore the best things to do in Narbonne:
1. Fontfroide Abbey
Founded in 1093, on land granted to Benedictine monks by the Viscount of Narbonne, the history of this abbey really begins in 1145 when it became attached to the Cistercian order.
This made it one of a string Cistercian abbeys in the region and a kind of satellite to the great monastery of Poblet in Catalonia.
The abbey was an important base for the catholic orthodoxy during the bloody crusade against the Cathar sect in this region in the 13th century.
When you come you’ll be startled by just how much of the romanesque and gothic architecture survives, like the chapterhouse, the cloister and the dormitory of the lay clergy.
Fontfroide Abbey is in the Corbières Massif, well-known for its wine, which you can taste at the end of the tour.