Friday, 28 June 2013

The start of our amazing holiday begins at Carcassonne

I apologise for the long break from my blog, but we had an amazing holiday and I am still going through the many photos which we took, therefore posts will still be slow for a while!  Furthermore, to those that follow me because of the Charente region, I apologise, but we will be in several different regions of France for a while, plus a trip to Spain, a cruise in the Mediterranean and a week in the UK.

We left home in mid-May, driving south to Carcassonne.  We were to meet, and stay with, a former school friend of mine who lives close to the town, and who I have not seen for more years than I like to remember!   We arrived in the area by late morning so we decided that we would see the city itself, before proceeding on to our friends.
Carcassonne is a medieval fortified city in the French department of Aude. The first signs of settlement in this area have been dated back to 3500BC.   It was founded in the Gallo-Roman period, but has developed over the centuries into a much larger town.  

The following is what is written on the  sign as you enter the medieval area :-  

After the Albigeois crusade, in the XIII century, the Seneschal representing the King of France occupied the town.   In September 1240, Raymond Trencavel tried with the help of the local lords to recapture the town by laying siege to the 'Cite'.   Helped by the occupants of the 'bourgs' (market towns), besiegers finally reached the ramparts of the fortress which nearly fell into their hands.   The siege finally failed and the King of France asked the local authorities to have the houses which had betrayed him pulled down.   In 1263, King Louis IX 'Saint Louis' decided to create a new bourg on the South side of the river Aude in order to give back to the 'cite' the defensive potentialities.   This is the way the "Ville Basse of Carcassonne" called "Bastide" was born on the present site.  The new town was characterised by an orthogonal plan forming 1000 square metres.  In 1355, during the 100 Years War, the Ville Basse, hardly fortified was completely destroyed by the "Black Prince".   Two years later, Carcassonne was rebuilt on the South side of the river as a smaller town, but surrounded by ramparts and towers.  

For further information on the town see Here
In 1849, the city had fallen into such disrepair that a decree was passed by the government to demolish it.  This caused such an uproar, that in 1853 restoration was started.  There is a double ring of ramparts and 53 towers.

 It was added to the UNESCO list of world heritage sites in 1997.

The restoration is excellent, and it is wonderful to walk around the site and imagine you were there many, many years before! The wooden sections atop the walls are to protect defenders standing on the battlements.


 The church is undergoing restoration at the present time, but here are a couple of photos without signs of scaffolding.


There are also a few active shops in the centre. I am sure they do very good business with the tourists, especially during the summer months.

You can clearly see here the double ramparts.



and from the outside looking up.


I just loved this little bridge which was on the outside of the old city.

The river Aude, with the more modern part of the city  on the left, on the opposite side of the river to the older fortified city.

The dome in the newer part of the city under which I believe they hold events and performances. 

I loved this doorway in the new area

and this fountain, which sadly was dry!

This is a beautiful city and I would love to return and spend more time here and surrounding areas. I hope that you enjoyed this first day of our trip, I will try to keep up to date a little more often now!!  

72 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures, Diane. Carcassonne has long been on my list of places I must go! How wonderful you were able to see it all and report back to us. It's good to see you here again!

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    1. The Broad, definitely a place not to be missed if you can get over this way. We could have had much more time here! Good to be back. Take care Diane

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  2. Hey Diane - Welcome back from what was obviously a great holiday - I've just arrived back online today too ...

    I love the photos in this post and the opportunity to catch a glimpse into your world ...

    ... looking forward to more ...

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    1. Hi Graham glad you are back for a bit. How is the back doing? I am sure all this stone work will give you some inspiration :-) Looking forward to seeing your updates on the house. Keep well Diane

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  3. Carcassonne is an amazing place, isn't it. We stayed at the hotel just on the other side of the road to the main entrance and enjoyed being able to saunter over to find a nice dinner.

    We went out of season too so not too many people were about. It's so much better mostly empty!

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    1. Sarah it must be awful in season even in early May there were quite a few people around and it was not a particularly warm day!

      It is amazing and I am sure we missed a lot only viewing in an afternoon :-( Keep well Diane

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  4. Nice place to start your hols. Look forward to seeing more photos of the places where you have been.

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    1. Vera it was probably the best holiday we have ever had, we do not usually have time for decent breaks. Now Nigel is retired we have decided we must make time while we can and before we are not able. Keep well Diane

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  5. welcome back! you must have had a marvelous trip. this place is awesome!

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    1. Thanks Jazz and yes we had a great holiday. Take care Diane

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  6. I can see why carcassone is a UNESCO site. Great pics. Looking forward to more.

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    1. Gaynor it is hard to believe that it was nearly demolished! I am so glad that someone had the sense to restore it back to its former glory. It is well worth a visit. Keep well Diane

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  7. Great pictures. I have enjoyed my several visits to Carcassonne very much. I have been there at several times of the year and it's a lot more enjoyable when there are not so many tourists around. There is a place on the auto route where you can stop and take a picture of the city which according to France Magazine is one of the most photographed spots in the Country. Of course for me, the best part was the cassoulet we enjoyed at Le Languedoc Restaurant. It was recommended to us by several vignerons we visited and it was as good as they said it would be.

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    1. Michel I would certainly like to visit again but I agree not in the tourist season!! You know I have never had cassoulet out, I have only ever cooked it at home and even French visitors have told me that mine is one of the best they have tasted! High praise as far as I am concerned. One day I will give it a try :-) Hope your weather is improving. Diane

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  8. Hi Diane , looks a fabulous place to go , yes I agree , I think you will have to go back , super photos too :-) Great to meet old friends again ,,and hopefully you got on , just as you did back then :-) take care xoxo

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    1. Anne it is really beautiful there, we really did need more time, I am sure we missed a lot. I think we got on better now than at school. We were not really friends at school just knew each other. Keep well Diane oxo

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  9. So much charm and history in these towns! Add good food and lovely shops and these are my definition of a great vacation too.

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    1. Roasaria I just love the history of France and there is so much of it. We certainly had some excellent food while away, we were very spoilt!! Have a good weekend Diane

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  10. What a super return...lovely photographs of Carcassonne....one of the first places I visited as a student touring France by train.
    Brought back some happy memories. Thank you.

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    1. Fly I am glad we brought back some happy memories. Amazing what the people in the old days used to build with out the equipment that we have now! Hope that you both are well Diane

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  11. I love the fortress. It reminds me of Quebec city which I still have to post more about. It looks like you had a lovely summer day without rain for your foray. Enjoy the weekend. xx

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    1. Joyful I love the historic places in France and there are many. This is one of the special places though and well worth a visit. Would love to see more of Quebec on blog, a place I am never likely to see in person. Have a great weekend Diane

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  12. WOW, this is an amazing piece of history. So glad it was restored. Hard for me to imagine a town within double walls. Now I have even more respect for the beautiful postcard you sent.

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    1. Gaelyn it is hard to think that anyone would consider demolishing this place. I agree, I am very glad it was restored, it is beautiful. I could do with more time there though to take it all in properly. Have a good weekend Diane

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  13. That takes me back Diane! We called in, like you, while driving from the Charente to Barcelona a few years ago. It was winter and so not crowded at all.
    Your photos are excellent - they really capture the essence of the town.
    Nice to see you back.

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    1. Craig it is good to be back though I am still trying to play catch up! I would hate to be here in tourist season I think early May was pretty much perfect. Keep well Diane

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  14. We've talked many times about visiting Carcassonne. So glad you've taken us along. You really captured the city beautifully Diane.
    Sam

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    1. Sam it is really worth a visit, we have also been talking about it for some time. It is even better than I expected. Keep well. Diane

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  15. Magnificent photos. When I visited Carcassonne a few years back, I tried to imagine what life must have been like . . . inside and outside their walls. I love exploring that part of France.

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    1. Rick it is a beautiful part of France, I would love to spend more time in the area. Yes, can you imagine what it would have been like living in those days! Diane

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  16. What a magnificent structure! Your photos are remarkable, Diane.It sounds like your holiday was a great success. I can't wait to hear more. Blessings...Mary

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    1. Mary we had an amazing trip, one that we will not forget. Hope this finds you well, have a great weekend Diane

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  17. Hi Diane,
    Love your photos of Carcassonne . We visited the city a few years back ; we were driving from Spain "up" to Burgundy !! Like you it was in June ; the day of our visit, the weather was very hot and sunny and very few tourists !!
    We had a Moule-Frites meal in the centre of the "new" Carcassone town !!
    Looking forward to more of your photographs. Have a good weekend, with some sun and warmer temperatures we hope !! Béatrice

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    1. Thanks Beatrice, I think it is far better with a few people around, I hate crowds of any sort!! maybe it will warm up this afternoon!! Have a good day, Diane

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  18. Wonderful selection of photos showing what looks like an amazing place. Look forward to the rest of your trip. xx

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    1. Thanks Karen it was a great holiday. Hope all well Diane

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  19. Love these photos Diane and so pleased you had a great holiday - looking forward to the next installment :)

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    1. Thanks for the visit Jacky, hope you enjoy the remaining photos as well. I am stilltrying to sort them all out!! Have a good day, Diane

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  20. Diane what lovely and beautiful pictures, look forward the rest of the trip :))

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    1. Thanks Gloria, I hope you enjoy the rest of the trip. Keep well Diane

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  21. I loved Carcassone BEFORE Unesco listed it :(

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    1. I am sure if I had seen it before I would have loved it too :-) Have a great weekend. Diane

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  22. Hi Diane .. glorious pictures here and in your last post - it's got an amazing history .. and is definitely a place I want to visit ... looking forward to seeing more of your travels ..

    I'm so glad they restored the town - it would have been devastating to lose such history ..

    Enjoying sorting out photos .. and spending time in the garden - I hope you're having a lovely day like we are here in the UK .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary can you just imagine this place being demolished off the face of the earth, it would have been a very sad day indeed! Certainly worth a visit if you come in this direction but better I am sure out of main tourist season.

      This morning was horrible but the sun has made a break through this afternoon and not before time! Keep well. Diane

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  23. I surely think you had a great time in and around Carcassonne!
    A very special medieval town.
    Lovely shots, Diane!
    I went by on when I went in the department of Aude, a couple of weeks ago.
    At lest there the sun shines!
    Cheers enjoy your WE!

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    1. Noushka the sun has actually come out this afternoon, just hope it lasts, I have had enough of winter now! Thanks for the comment, take care Diane

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  24. Goodness me, it would have been a disaster if they had gone ahead and demolished Carcassonne Diane, all that history gone oh la! I enjoyed your visit very much, merci beaucoup :)

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    1. Perth glad that you enjoyed these photos, it would have been very sad if they had demolished and so many people would have missed a lot of history. Keep well Diane

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  25. Carcassonne is certainly a lovely place. I must admit that it does feel a bit unreal to me. That's not a bad thing - I like unreal. I remember standing a mile or two away from the city some years ago staring at the walls and towers and thinking that if I were to draw pictures to illustrate a fairytale then this would be the perfect subject.

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    1. Phil I have to agree it does feel like another world, and yes the perfect picture for the cover of a fairytale book. I felt like I should have been dressed in old fashined clothes just to walk around there. Have a good day, Diane

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  26. I have always wondered what it would have been like to live in a castle like this but I think it would have been too cold and drafty for me. If those walls could speak, they would be able to tell one many tales which are not in history books.

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    1. Joan, think of all the housework in a castle as well!! Our house is stone with very thick walls and it is always cool. We have fixed all the draughts but it is small enough to do that! I am sure keeping a castle warm in winter would be almost impossible and very expensive. You are so right if only walls could talk. Have a good week Diane

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  27. Its an amazing restoration, a little more that it was but just the same, its still here with us. Always worth another visit when in the Aude.
    The Langeudoc is one of our fave areas, or is it Provence, maybe it's Burgundy, Normandy, or possibly the Dordogne, then of course the Loire is Sue's spirital home.
    How lucky are you to experience all these regions.
    Leon

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    1. Leon and Sue, I agree it is quite amazing, we needed more time really, but this walking lark is not easy for N as you know. I have just decided I love France, the more I see the more I love it. We still have so much to see, think you are ahead of us :-) have a great week. D & N

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  28. What a fabulous castle! Love the wider view on top.

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    1. JM that top pic was my favourite as well :-) Have a good week Diane

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  29. Beautiful photos, Diane!
    Thanks for sharing!
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Regine, it is a place well worth sharing it is so beautiful. keep well Diane

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  30. Wow! That is one old town. It is so good that it wasn't demolished back in the 1800's. Great foresight of the people then to insist on keeping it and renovating it. Grand pictures of a grand place. Thanks for the virtual tour.

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    1. Diane it would have been a disaster if it had been demolished! It is an amazing place and hard to believe that it is real. Hope all well with you Diane

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  31. I love Carcassonne, Diane ! Such a beautiful old town ! Spring is definetly the good season to visit it. Strolling through the ancien streets is so lovely ... I'm now waiting for the rest of your trip ... ;o)
    Have a good day
    Hélène

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    1. Hélène, it really is a stunning place and I hope that you enjoy the remainder of our trip as much as we did. Have a great week Diane

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  32. Carcassonne is on my must visit list! I'm dying to explore those gorgeous streets for myself :)
    I love your photos and I'm looking forward to seeing more!

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    1. Sara it has been on our 'must visit' list for some time, now it is on our 'must return' list :-) Well worth taking the time out to visit. Have a good week Diane

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  33. Wonderful! Your pictures and narratives make me feel as if I'd almost seen it for myself. I'm so glad for your travelogues, and looking forward to "continuing" the journey with you.

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    1. Thanks Marjie, glad that you enjoyed this post, it is such an interesting place oozing with history. Hope you enjoy the rest of the journey as much. Keep well Diane

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  34. Love the photos! What a great place to visit and we've considered southwest France, but it's more complicated to get to than other parts. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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    1. Freda we can drive to the South of France so not too bad for us. Problem is anywhere else in the world we want to go, either we fly from Paris which is generally very expensive, or we fly back to the UK and fly from there which defeats the object a bit as it extends flying time. Nigel has a foot problem and he cannot sit with his legs bent for long, so driving is the best for him as he can stretch out. Flying 1st class is a bit beyond our means! It means though no more long flights unless we win the lottery!!

      If you ever get the chance to go down South though, this is the most beautiful area. Have a good weekend. By the way since you have gone on to G+ I am having problems. I do not seem to be able to comment IF I can track down the post. I changed back from G+ because it was taking too long loading with our slow connection. Have a good weekend Diane

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  35. My husband and I spent one night in Carcassonne many years ago. Thank you for bringing back memories of our trip. Karen

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    1. Karen I love it when I can bring back good memories for people,it makes blogging all worthwhile :-) Hope you are well. Diane

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  36. Diane, you really make me want to go there. And it's wonderful to meet up with old friends!

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  37. Pam this is a must visit if you are in the area, but so are many other places close by. It was great to meet up with friends who I have not seen for more years than I like to think about! Keep well Diane

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