Narbonne peaked long ago. It was once a great port, when the river Aude still flowed by the city, and its lagoon was connected to the sea. It was important in Roman times: the capital of "Gallia Narbonensis", and an important stop on the Via Domitia. It became the capital of the Visigoths after they sacked Rome in 410. Under Charlemagne, Narbonne was the capital of the duchy of Gothie. The 14th century marked the decline of Narbonne, what with a change in the course of the Aude that caused the port to silt up, the Black Death, the devastating raids of Edward, the Black Prince, and the departure of the Jews. By the time of the French Revolution, in the late 18th century, there were only a few thousand inhabitants. It started to recover somewhat in the 19th century, with the renewed wine business, and now has about 45,000 inhabitants.

In the picture above and to the right, one can see a portion of the Via Domitia in the foreground, recently excavated from the present Place de l'Hôtel de Ville (city hall square). Standing on it, one can clearly perceive the 2,000-year-old wagon ruts! The banners show the red and yellow Catalan colors. (The last generation has been a time of renewed regionalism in many parts of Europe, with people finding part of their identity in more local and ancient entities. Here, there are linguistic and cultural ties to neighboring Catalonia in Spain.)

Click on the small pictures to see larger ones.

What looks like a late-19th century architectural folly. Street scene. Doorway in the Archbishop's Palace. Cloisters.

Cathedral of St. Just

Only the chancel was ever built, completed in 1332. Finishing the nave (the long part) and the transept (the cross-wings) would have meant breaching the old Gallo-Roman ramparts, which were still valued in those times, so momentum was lost. The interior is an impressively high 41 meters or 132 feet, the third-tallest in France.

The Canale de la Robine

This short bridge actually carries a shopping street. Canal boats with the Archbishop's Palace and the Cathedral towers behind. A graceful curve of the canal.
The Promenade des Barques, on the banks of the canal. A lock, south of town. Note the ellipsoidal shape of the lock basin itself, beyond the gate. The canal bank in the countryside, with serene banks of plane trees.