Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Day Out In Carcassonne: Art, Alleys and Antiquity.

I began my writers retreat at La Muse Inn on Janurary 9th.  It is about 35 minutes away from the city of Carcassonne, up in the Black Mountains.  I was travelling by train and John kindly offered participants the opportunity to sign up for a ride package.  This meant you got picked up from the station and taken into town or sight seeing once a week.  There were two trips to Carcassonne, one into the Cite, which is the old walled castle, and one to Lastours, where the four Cathar Chateaux were high on a mountain top.

I was excited to go into Carcassonne for the first time.  It has very narrow streets and passages.  It was quite different to my experience in St Malo and Dol.  

We were dropped off at the station and I walked straight down the entrance to the town and came upon the large market square.I was surprised there were so few stalls. 

It was a magnificent square and the market seemed swallowed up in the vastness of the space available.
There were lovely lamps on every corner and a huge marble scupture in the middle of the square.

We had been given a map by John so I started exploring the streets. 

One thing that stands out to a Canadian eye is all the fantastic doors, windows and shutters, as well as balconies one sees in Europe. It has been suggested I should do a calendar of my door pictures lol.

And of course they come with all kinds of intereting handles and door knockers.
It was great to see so many art galleries in the city.

And here is another one down the street.
The architecture in Carcassonne was so beautiful and of such a variery of styles.  Also you had to keep looking up as there is so much to been seen on the upper levels.  That's where the bells are. lol
The stone work was also incredible.
There is a tap in this ornate concave structure. A public water supply from the past?
Here are some of the windows I had to capture with my phone camera.
Some with shutters and some without. :-)
And this one with the flower pots was very high up.
Down at the outer walls of the ciry I found this wonderful arched gateway.
It lead to another beautiful open area with a long avenue of plane trees.
These plane trees can be seen all over France.  I first saw them in St Malo.  They used to line the Canal du Midi, offering shade to those who travelled across France on this magnificent Canal.  
The plane trees were struck down with a fungal desease that was transferred throught the roots of the trees, and because the trees were planted so close together along the banks, and in these avenues, many trees have been lost.  

The unusual appearance of the branches is due to a treatment called pollarding.  
I had to take a picture of the cool Citroen car parked outside a cafe. Such a symbol of France.
This building housed the cafe, and it looks ancient.

Everywhere I looked I saw shutters, open and closed.  I love this concept and don't   understand why it was never adopted and kept alive in England, or Canada for that matter.  
Art, art, everywhere you look.
At the end of the Rue du Verdun, I found the Musee Des Beaux Arts.
What a beautiful space.
Outside was such a tranquil courtyard.
Inside was also calm, with the high decorated ceilings, classical pillars and sweeping staircase.  It was the home to sculptures.
Here is the elegant courtyard.

At the end of of Rue de Verdun was another huge square. Across the street stood a colourful old school building, sectioned off into the girls side and the boys side. The good old days.
Next I found the Post Office and got some prepaid envelopes so I could send Beth her birthday card. With that one and only errand run, it was lunch time and I wanted to find somewhere that wasn't too touristy to eat. As I wandered down the Rue des Barbes from the Post Office I saw a little place that was packed with what looked to be locals.  There was no sign on the cafe, but it looked inviting so I went in.
I was surprised that the lady spoke  such good English, and was invited to sit down at the window table.  She handed me the menu and when I picked it up I was so surprised to see "SUNSHINE" written on the bright yellow sheet.
I felt right at home.  As many of you know, I perform for kids as Pamela Sunshine. This was too funny and made me smile.
I told the lady my story as I ordered my smoked Salmon panini.  
As we chatted I asked her where she was from, and it turned out she came from Peterborough, a town about forty minutes away from where I used to live in England. The synchronicity I keep experiencing here is quite startling.
After eating I had to hurry to the train station to meet with John and the other laidies from the retreat. Once again I passsed the lovely Canal du Midi and got some quick shots of the boats moored there.

John took us all to the grocery stores and the bakery to stock up on supplies for the coming week.  
Soon we were off on our way back through the beautiful countryside to our mountain getaway.

The river runs right through the villages in the valley.
Even the villages have the avenues of plane trees.
Back to the chapel of Labastide. It is just opposite La Muse
La Muse is a long building with an amazing history.
We are situated in the perfect location for walks into the mountians, and Jena and I did some exploring.  But that my friends, is another story.


hyasint said...

very intressting ,i lovr windows,lamps,doors:)

its looking for lot of looking about!so intressting,al new things is so to se this photos,do you kno somthing? i learn of ths to,thank you!

Pam Carr said...

I love how passionate you are about learning new things and how you appreciate beauty in all things