For those of you who aren't familiar with Carcassonne, it is a small town located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region; it is best known for the Cité de Carcassonne, a small portion of the city with roots dating back to the Middle Ages. This was my first time visiting the town, and I am definitely not disappointed.
Here is a photo of me near one of the fountains. Enjoy seeing me without glasses; it won't last. It was drizzly, and glasses and rain do not mix.
Before I made the trek to the Cité, I stopped by the Cathédrale Saint-Michel. It was built in the 13th century.
The church was undergoing some routine renovations, so I didn't take any photos of the building itself. However, I have some decent ones taken inside!
Then there's this photo that Aurélie took of me. It's kind-of blurry, but you get the idea. You aren't allowed to use the flash inside the church because it can fade the paint.
After checking out the church, we began our hike up to the ramparts! Can you see the fortress in the background?
This photo is a little better. Plus, you can make out the Pont Vieux that crosses the Aude River.
Here is a personal photo I took of the fortress in the distance. Personally, it reminds me of the castle in Sleeping Beauty.
That walk was killer, and it made me realize how out-of-shape I am. This sign tells guests what to expect when touring the ramparts and medieval village enclosed in the walls.
I, of course, had to get a picture near one of the towers! Do you see the flat, green land near the ramparts? That's where the mote used to be. I'm glad that it doesn't exist today!
Did you know that the French government originally wanted to demolish the fortress? It was quite the controversial issue, and of course, a group of people fought to save it. They obviously won. I'm glad because I personally hate to see history disappear. It's really sad how several old theaters and such in the United States are left to decay. Although some of that happens in Europe, for the most part, the countries here take pride in the upkeep of historical sites.
Here are some additional shots of the ramparts:
We first toured the graveyard:
It was gorgeous, but I'm not going to lie. It was a little creepy, and I am not easily scared. Please, I can watch horror movies without batting an eyelash. However, this mausoleum freaked me out:
The upkeep is amazing. The workers place fresh flowers near the graves quite often.
The perks of the graveyard? Exceptional views of the fortress, of course!
At last, we entered the Cité! Let me give you some historical background. The fortress dates back to the Gallo-Roman period during the Middle Ages. The fortress boasts 52 towers and a wall that is almost 2 miles long. The fortress protected France from Aragon, which was in modern-day eastern Spain.
I had to climb one of the towers. The wind, however, got the best of me. I was afraid it would push me off the tower, but it fortunately didn't!
I will quote one of my favorite movies, Hannah Montana: le film, when I say that "life is a climb, but the view is great":
I was goofing around, and that's how this picture happened. It's worth a share since it provides a nice view of the stone architecture.
Here are some photos of the town between the walls. Aurélie and I had fun exploring the touristy medieval-themed shops and walking down the cobblestone streets. It was really like stepping into a time machine. However, we also saw the "dark" side of the Middle Ages. It wasn't all pretty, restored cobblestone streets. Between the tension with the Catholic church among other things, life was rough. We stumbled upon a medieval weapons of torture museum, and I/m very happy to live in this century.
We also had a late afternoon "snack"...tapas and hot chocolate. Hey, seems odd, but the wind on the top of the hill made it seem colder than it was.
After a fun day of exploring, it was time to head back home to Lille. We had an almost-ten-hour train ride ahead of us, but it was worth it, I hope to return to Carcassonne in the near future; it was breathtaking!
Would you like to visit Carcassonne someday?