Carcassonne

Trip Start Sep 07, 2005
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52
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of France  ,
Sunday, March 12, 2006

Today we visited probably the biggest tourist attraction in the area- Carcassonne. As you approach the old walled city, La Cite, it looks like a fairy tale medieval town that should be part of Disneyland! The towers are capped in witches-hat roofs (52 of them!), and 3 km of fortified walls the old city which sits up on a hill about 500m over the rest of the town. Breathtaking doesn't even begin to describe it! It's hard to imagine that places like this actually exist in the world, and could be so well-preserved.

Today was probably the most windy day we have had, and we thought that once we entered over the drawbridge and through the main gate the fortified walls would break the wind. Sadly, not so! Apparently La Cite sits on a hill between two mountains, creating a natural wind tunnel. We took a guided tour of the Chateau Comtal, which includes the castle and ramparts. Up on the walls you had to have a firm grip on everything you owned, including loved-ones lest you be blown over the side! There was a momentary temptation to see if Olivia really can fly or not, but we quickly decided against it. We ended the tour at the Basilique St-Nazaire, which has some amazing 13th & 14th century stained glass windows.

La Cite itself is full of restaurants and gift shops, which was actually a nice change to but a few treats since most other places we have visited have been pretty dead. Like the towns we saw on the coast, I can see how it would be a nightmare of people in the summer, but although there were lots of people wandering around it was far from crowded. Lunch was at a restaurant we thought our villa owners had recommended, but we were wrong! It still turned out to be pretty good though. The girls all had amazing French onion soup (when in France, you know) and Dave had cassoulet, which is a regional specialty that is a stew with white beans, pork , sausage and duck. I'm all for trying new things these days, but that was pushing it a bit far for me! For dessert of course were crepes.

We managed to pass the whole day there, so it was after five when we headed for the car, exhausted and cold! It was just starting to rain, so the perfect time to move on. We had a short drive along the Canal du Midi and checked out some locks, but I think we will probably go back for further investigation! Tomorrow is Sunday, and most things are closed for the day, but there is a market in Esperaza we hope to investigate in the morning. And maybe some more crepes!
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