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"Narbo" redirects here. For the former town in California, see Narbo, California.
"Narbonnaise" redirects here. For the ancient Roman province, see Gallia Narbonensis.
Montage photo narbonne.jpg
Flag of Narbonne
Coat of arms of Narbonne
Coat of arms
Narbonne is located in France
Coordinates: 43°11′01″N 3°00′15″E / 43.1836°N 3.0042°E / 43.1836; 3.0042Coordinates: 43°11′01″N 3°00′15″E / 43.1836°N 3.0042°E / 43.1836; 3.0042
Country France
Region Languedoc-Roussillon
Department Aude
Arrondissement Narbonne
Intercommunality Narbonne
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Jacques Bascou (PS)
 • Land1 172.96 km2 (66.78 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 • Population2 52,252
 • Population2 density 300/km2 (780/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 11262 / 11100
Elevation 0–285 m (0–935 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Narbonne (French pronunciation: ​[naʁ.bɔn]; Occitan: Narbona, Occitan pronunciation: [naɾ.ˈbu.no]; Latin: Narbo) is a commune in southern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It lies 849 km (528 mi) from Paris in the Aude department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Once a prosperous port, and a major city in Roman times, it is now located about 15 km (9.3 mi) from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is marginally the largest commune in Aude, although the prefecture is the slightly smaller commune of Carcassonne.


Narbonne is linked to the nearby Canal du Midi and the Aude River by the Canal de la Robine, which runs through the centre of town.


The town's original name is very ancient. The earliest known record of its original name is by the Greek Hecataeus of Miletus in the fifth century BC. In ancient inscriptions the name is sometimes rendered in Latin and sometimes translated into Iberian as Nedhena.


Narbonne was established in Gaul in 118 BC, as Colonia Narbo Martius. It was located on the Via Domitia, the first Roman road in Gaul, built at the time of the foundation of the colony, and connecting Italy to Spain. Geographically, Narbonne was therefore located at a very important crossroads because it was situated where the Via Domitia connected to the Via Aquitania, which led toward the Atlantic through Toulouse and Bordeaux. In addition, it was crossed by the Aude River. Surviving members of Julius Caesar's Legio X Equestris were given lands in the area that today is called Narbonne.[citation needed]

Politically, Narbonne gained importance as a competitor to Massalia (Marseille). Julius Caesar settled veterans from his 10th legion there and attempted to develop its port while Marseille was revolting against Roman control. Among the amenities of Narbonne, its rosemary-flower honey was famous among Romans.[1]

Later, the provincia of southern Gaul was named "Gallia Narbonensis", after the city, and Narbonne was made its capital. Seat of a powerful administration, the city enjoyed economic and architectural expansion. At that point the city could be home to 30,000 - 50,000 or up to 100,000.[2]

Muslim troops leaving Narbonne to Pépin le Bref, in 759.

It was subsequently the capital of the Visigothic province of Septimania, the only territory from Gaul to fend off the Frankish thrust after the Battle of Vouille (507). For 40 years, from 719, Narbonne was part of the Emirate of Cordoba with a strong Gothic presence. The Carolingian Pepin the Short conquered Narbonne from the Muslims in 759 after which it became part of the Carolingian Viscounty of Narbonne. He invited, according to Christian sources, prominent Jews from the Caliphate of Bagdad to settle in Narbonne and establish a major Jewish learning center for Western Europe.[3] In the 12th century, the court of Ermengarde of Narbonne (reigned 1134 to 1192) presided over one of the cultural centers where the spirit of courtly love was developed.

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 (Judæo-French) and Shuadit (Judæo-Provençal) languages. Jews had settled in Narbonne from about the 5th century, with a community that had risen to approximately 2000 in the 12th century. At this time, Narbonne was frequently mentioned in Talmudic works in connection with its scholars. One source, Abraham ibn Daud of Toledo, gives them an importance similar to the exilarchs of Babylon.[4] In the 12th and 13th centuries, the community went through a series of ups and downs before settling into extended decline.

Narbonne loses its river and port[edit]

Narbonne itself fell into a slow decline in the 14th century, for a variety of reasons. One was due to a change in the course of the Aude River, which caused increased silting of the navigational access. The river, known as the Atax in ancient times, had always had two main courses which split close to Salelles; one fork going south through Narbonne and then to the sea close to the Clappe Massif, the other heading east to the etang at Vendres close to the current mouth of the river well to the east of the city. The Romans had improved the navigability of the river by building a dam near Salelles and also by canalising the river as it passed through its marshy delta to the sea (then as now the canal was known as the Robine.) A major flood in 1320 swept the dam away. The Aude river had a long history of overflowing its banks. When it was a bustling port, the distance from the coast was approximately 5 to 10 km (3 to 6 mi), but at that time the access to the sea was deep enough when the river was in full spate which made communication between port and city unreliable. However, goods could easily be transported by land and in shallow barges from the ports (there were several: a main port and forward ports for larger vessels; indeed the navigability from the sea into the etang and then into the river had been a perennial problem!)

Narbonne circa 1780

The changes to the long seashore which resulted from the silting up of the series of graus or openings which were interspersed between the islands which made up the shoreline (St. Martin; St. Lucie) had a more serious impact than the change in course of the river. Other causes of decline were the plague and the raid of Edward, the Black Prince, which caused much devastation. The growth of other ports was also a factor.

Narbonne Cathedral[edit]

Part of the unfinished section of the Cathedral Saint-Just-et-Saint-Pasteur.

Narbonne Cathedral, dedicated to Saints Justus and Pastor, provides stark evidence of Narbonne's sudden and dramatic change of fortunes when one sees at the rear of the structure the enormously ambitious building programme frozen in time, for the cathedral—still one of the tallest in France—was never finished. The reasons are many, but the most important is that the completed cathedral would have required demolishing the city wall. The 14th century also brought the plague and a host of reasons for retaining the 5th-century (pre-Visigothic) walls.

Yet the choir, side chapels, sacristy, and courtyard remain intact, and the cathedral, although no longer the seat of a bishop or archbishop, remains the primary place of worship for the Roman Catholic population of the city, and is a major tourist attraction.

Building of the Canal de la Robine[edit]

The Canal de la Robine in 2003. (Taken from the "Passerelle entre Deux Villes" pedestrian bridge,facing northwest, away from the heart of the city.)

From the sixteenth century, eager to maintain a link to important trade, the people of Narbonne began costly work to the vestiges of the Aude River's access to the sea so that it would remain navigable to a limited draft vessel and also serve as a link with the Royal Canal. This major undertaking resulted in the construction of the Canal de la Robine, which was finally linked with the Canal du Midi (then known as the Royal Canal) via the Canal de Jonction in 1776. In the 19th century, the canal system in the south of France came into competition with an expanding rail network, but kept some importance due to the flourishing wine trade.

Hence, despite its decline from Roman times, Narbonne managed to hold on to its vital but limited importance as a trading route, particularly in more recent centuries.


Historical population
Year Pop.   ±%  
1793 9,050 —    
1800 9,086 +0.4%
1806 9,464 +4.2%
1821 9,940 +5.0%
1831 10,246 +3.1%
1836 10,762 +5.0%
1841 11,907 +10.6%
1846 11,427 −4.0%
1851 13,066 +14.3%
1856 14,300 +9.4%
1861 16,062 +12.3%
1866 17,172 +6.9%
1872 17,266 +0.5%
1876 19,968 +15.6%
1881 28,134 +40.9%
1886 29,702 +5.6%
1891 29,566 −0.5%
1896 27,824 −5.9%
1901 28,852 +3.7%
1906 27,039 −6.3%
1911 28,173 +4.2%
1921 28,956 +2.8%
1926 29,841 +3.1%
1931 31,909 +6.9%
1936 30,047 −5.8%
1946 29,975 −0.2%
1954 32,060 +7.0%
1962 33,891 +5.7%
1968 38,441 +13.4%
1975 39,342 +2.3%
1982 41,565 +5.7%
1990 45,849 +10.3%
1999 46,510 +1.4%
2008 52,252 +12.3%
Archepiscopal palace
Narbonne (march 2008).jpg


  • The cathedral dating from 1272
  • The Palais des Archevêques, the Archbishop's Palace, and its donjon with views over Narbonne
  • Musée Archeologique, an archaeological museum in the town centre
  • The Roman Horreum, a former grain warehouse, built underground as a cryptoporticus
  • Remains of the Via Domitia in the city center
  • The canal, Canal de la Robine, running through the centre of the town
  • The Halles covered market operates every day. The busiest times are Sunday and Thursday mornings.
  • The nearby limestone massif known as La Clape and the beach at Narbonne plage


Narbonne is home to the rugby union team RC Narbonne founded in 1907. They play at the Parc des Sports Et de l'Amitié (capacity 12,000). They wear orange and black.


The Gare de Narbonne railway station offers direct connections to Paris, Barcelona, Toulouse, Marseille and many regional destinations. An extensive local system of buses and routes operated by Citibus.fr allow for easy public transport within Narbonne and surrounding communities. Travellers wishing to connect by plane arrive by airports in nearby Béziers, Carcasonne, Perpignan, Toulouse or Montpellier, as Narbonne does not have an airport.


See also[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Narbonne is twinned with:


  1. ^ Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat (Anthea Bell, tr.) The History of Food, 2nd ed. 2009:23.
  2. ^ http://books.google.dk/books?id=C19glZh7zfoC&pg=PA47&dq=roman+gaul+cities+population+50,000&hl=da&sa=X&ei=CM9HU_LqIszy7Aa87YHQAQ&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=roman%20gaul%20cities%20population%2050%2C000&f=false
  3. ^ Trigano - The Conventionalism of social Bonds and the Strategies of Jewish Society in the Thirteenth Century; Byrd - The Jesus Gene: A messianic Bloodline, the Jews and Freemasonry accessdate=2012-02-16
  4. ^ Jewish encyclopedia.
  5. ^ Annuaire-Mairie.fr. "Ville d'Aoste" (in French). Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  6. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  7. ^ Salford City Council. "Salford's twin towns". Salford.gov.uk. Retrieved 4 May 2008. 
  • Michel Gayraud, Narbonne antique des origines à la fin du IIIe siècle. Paris: De Boccard, Revue archéologique de Narbonnaise, Supplément 8, 1981, 591 p.
  • Histoire de Narbonne, Jacques Michaud and André Cabanis, eds, Toulouse: Privat, 2004.
  • L’Aude de la préhistoire à nos jours (under the direction of Jacques Crémadeilis), Saint-Jean-d’Angély, 1989.
  • Les Audois : dictionnaire biographique, Rémy Cazals et Daniel Fabre, eds., Carcassonne, Association des Amis des Archives de l’Aude, Société d’Études Scientifiques de l’Aude, 1990.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Narbonne", The Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.), New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910, OCLC 14782424 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narbonne — Please support Wikipedia.
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24193 news items

The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 08 Aug 2014 23:00:42 -0700

Narbonne, a city of just over 50,000 people, was an important Roman seaport, but centuries of silting of the Aude river have left it snoozing 15km inland. Its focal point is the Canal de la Robine, offshoot of the Canal du Midi, and wide new promenades ...
The Daily Breeze
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 23:22:30 -0700

Last year, Narbonne quarterback Roman Ale came off the bench to replace an injured starter to rally his team to victory in its season opener against Palos Verdes. This year, Ale had to bring his team from behind again, but he did that early and ...
The Daily Breeze
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 16:26:15 -0700

Narbonne had a solid zero-week test, when it came from behind to beat Palos Verdes 49-28. Narbonne coach Manuel Douglas was impressed with PV, and felt his team showed grit. “PV is a very disciplined team,” Douglas said. “They believe in what they do ...
The Daily Breeze
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 22:56:33 -0700

Palos Verdes quarterback Daniel DiRocco (11) gains on a keeper against Narbonne in a season opener football game between the two CIF champions Thursday in Palos Verdes Estates. Narbonne won 27-23 on a reception as time ran out. ¬ 20130829 ...
Los Angeles Times
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 08:38:58 -0700

Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas tells the story of how college recruiters started paying attention to Hall after a summer passing competition. "He's running around with no shirt on, and I noticed a lot of coaches pointing him out, and I told him to leave ...
Daily Breeze
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 20:28:20 -0700

Daily Breeze Marine League Football Preview: Narbonne aims for fourth straight L.A. City final. In this file photo, Carson High plays at a Narbonne football game to decide Marine League champion Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. Narbonne receiver Vincent Heard (8) ...
Los Angeles Times
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:02:55 -0700

There were mistakes by both teams, but the coaches for Narbonne and Chaminade left Thursday's scrimmage feeling confident their respective teams will be very good this season. "I think we're going to be OK. I think they are, too," Chaminade Coach Ed ...
Daily Breeze
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 21:18:45 -0700

Narbonne is not a team afraid of bold statements, so it has a warning for the rest of the City Section: this year's team is better than last year's. The Gauchos went 11-3 in 2013 before losing in the City Section Division 1 championship game to Crenshaw.

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