Monday, July 05, 2010

Carcassonne - a very big day

We followed our new found Australian friends, Rob and Wendy on the road to Carcassonne, the medieval city perched above the Aude river. The road took us back out of Saint Chinian to Puisserguier and then Capestang where we passed over a hump back stone bridge crossing the Midi Canal. Below were both boats and barges moored while their occupants were probably lunching in the village.

Just a couple of Melbournites enjoying the South of France at Carcassonne.

On arriving at Carcassonne, the ramparts and towers of La Cite came into sight. An amazing image as it transforms you back into 12th century when it was at its zenith. On entering La Cite across the drawbridge and we passed the two walled ramparts. From this point one needs to erase the sight of the tourists and the tacky gift shops to fall back into medieval times to fully appreciate what befalls you.
We walked towards the entrance of La Cite, amazed at the sight before us.

Having now erased the many tourists from the scenes in front of me, I could now imagine the life of the locals, knights in armour and the many religious crusades that befell La Cite.

You walk across the drawbridge and see the empty moat that once protected La Cite.

To this day, restoration and maintenance continues - love the gargoyles.
In the background is the cathedral dedicated to St Nazaire and St Caise. Just behind the Cathedral is an open air consert area where only recently Bob Dylan performed.
Follow this link
I half expected Harry Potter to swoop by on that thingy he rides.

The two walls that once protected Carcassonne from the many enemies of the past.

On our return we crossed the Aude river and then the Midi Canal and stopped for a late lunch at the small town of Trebes. It’s amazing how wonderful the quality of the food was at a simple roadside café. We enjoyed a three course meal with wine cheese and coffee for 27 euro.
Sue explains;
It consisted of beignets aubergine with a cheesy choux pastry fried with a green salad. For the mains we had stuffed yellow capsicums with veal and rice in a tomato sauce. The waitress brought us lots of bread to soak up the sauce. Then came the plate of fromage consisting of chevre, Roquefort and Camembert. If that wasn’t enough, we were offered a choice of chocolate mousse or Crème brulee.

As we enjoyed our meal with Rob and Wendy, we started chatting with a French American couple with their small child. With the sun shining through the plane trees flanking the Midi Canal you could see the dappled light and shade from our café window. It was a superb moment.

Both Rob and Wendy have proven to be engaging company and very easy to get along with and we occasionally still catch up back home.
Another highlight for me (Leon of course) was the sight of a 1950s black Citroen Traction Avant parked on the side of the road in the village of Cruzy. No more than a little walk further on was an old garage with several locals enjoying their wine. Inside the garage were a few other unrestored classic cars and I enquired of who owned the Traction

Simon - what do you think of this superb example of a Traction Avant?
Avant in my non-existent French. I mentioned that I was from Australie and I to owned this model Citroen. “May I take a photo of your automobile?” The elderly gentleman smiled with approval. “Merci” I responded and I lined up the C3 with the Traction Avant for my photo shoot. I wish I could have spent more time with them over a glass of wine.
The chateau in Cruzy with the gate house

As we drove out of Cruzy on the road back to Saint Chinian a large and what looked deserted chateau loomed into view. We stopped at the driveway entrance to see a small gate house all covered in foliage and cobwebs.

I sometimes think that the hidden treasures that you stumble across bring as much, and sometimes more pleasure than those on the tourism pilgrimage. As much as Carcassonne amazed us, so did this deserted Chateau and gate house - and we were alone.

The chateau must have been grand in its day but today it had boarded up windows and what would have been a magnificent garden and circular driveway, was now full of weeds. The stable house had a couple of commercial vehicles parked in front so obviously the building was still used. Across the road was another complex of buildings but more recent and the surrounding terrain was vine covered. The Languedoc region is well known for its wine.

That night we enjoyed the local Rose with a light salad. Sue fell asleep on the couch with fond thoughts of the day’s experiences.


  1. Carcassonne is lovely. We always eat the cassoulet when we are there.

  2. Some interesting pictures of Carcassonne, and of course I don't mind the link whatsoever, au contraire!

    Thank you for taking the time to read my review. Dylan seemed on form in Europe and comments I saw were generally positive. I think the 80s were a dry period but I have been quite enjoying the albums recorded since 1990, and now that I have seen him in concert I better appreciate what he has been doing musically the past few decades.

  3. Nadege,
    After Carcassonne, we moved on to Minerve which was just as fascinating (next week maybe). I don't remember Sue cooking Cassoulet but I remember Rick Stein making it on his South of France adventures on TV.
    Hey Sue, what's for dinner this weekend?????

    Betty C,
    I think I first heard "Like a Rolling Stone" as a young teenager and couldn't get over that dramatic organ intro by Al Kooper, the founder of Blood Sweat and Tears.


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