Narbonne, France

Panoramic view of Narbonne, with the large but incomplete cathedral on the left. Photo Creative Commons License Benh Lieu Song.

Narbonne (Narbona in Occitan) is a city and commune of southwestern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region and the Aude département. Once a port city, it is now located about 15 km away from the Mediterranean Sea. Located 849km from Paris, Narbonne has a population of about 50,000.

Narbonne was the first Roman colony outside of Italy. It was established in Gaul in 118 BC, as Colonia Narbo Martius. It was located on the Via Domitia, the first Roman road in Gaul, which connected Italy to Spain. At Narbonne, the Via Domitia connected to the Via Aquitania, which lead toward the Atlantic across Toulouse and Bordeaux. Narbonne later became the capital of the Visigoth province of Septimania until the 8th century. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Narbonne was home to an important Jewish exegetical school, which played a pivotal role in the growth and development of the Zarphatic (Judeo-French) and Shuadit (Judeo-Provençal) languages.

Narbonne fell into decline in the 14th century, partly due to a change in the course of the Aude River – the resulting changes to the coastline meant that the city could no longer serve as a Mediterranean port. The town regained some of its vitality with the expansion of vineyards in the 19th century. Today, Narbonne is a small city and tourist destination with several sights of religious interest.

Narbonne Cathedral
Located next to the Archbishop's Palace on the main square, Narbonne Cathedral was begun in 1272 and never finished.
Basilica of St. Paul Serge
This early Gothic basilica has an elegant choir with fine Renaissance woodcarvings. It was built on the site of a 4th-century necropolis and contains some ancient Christian sarcophagi.