On Thursday, January 24th, we went to vist Le Cite De Carcassonne. John dropped us off at 12:00 after a roundabout route through lots of villages due to road works.
As we approacehed the Cite I was very excited to get my first glimpse of its fairy tale towers. My daughter. Beth. had visited years ago and always said it was one of her favourite places.
I got out at the car park, and the others carried on into town to run some errands before walking back to visit the walled Cite.
I walked across to the main gate and it was very impressive, so big and such a beautifully deisgned fortress.
John had suggested I try the casoulette for my lunch but the restaurant he recommended was closed as it was off season. I asked at the information booth for their suggestions for a good casoulette.
I walked down the ancient streets following his directions.
As I approached the restaurant I was greeted by a young woman in a long frocked coat. On a table outside, they had actual demonstation dishes of the food set up. I saw the portions and asked if it was possible to get a small one, as I really can't eat that much lol. She said yes there was a small one for 15 euros. She showed me inside and it was very nice, with a cieling of draped fabric.
On our way to my table she showed me the kitchen and how their bread was made on site.
Even though I had the small serving, I was very full when I had finished.
The buildings all had such a beauty. It was easy to imagine the gentry and their families walking down these streets, as they were known to do. Of couse in those times there were many poorer dwellings crowding the streets.
Eventurally I approached the entry to the battlements and the home of the ruling Lord and his family. It was their home after all.
It was ten euros to go in, but this was a special place, and I really wanted to see inside and get some information on the story of the Cathars, and what they experienced.
Once you had your ticket then you crossed the bridge into the main heart of the castle.
This was the view of the walls from the bridge.
Once inside the main walls there was a square or courtyard with some plane trees. The sun was shining through the clouds and it was a beautiful day.
The walls of the buildings surrounding the courtyard towered above me.
The legend says that Charlemagne had laid seige to the city which was home to the Saracens at the time. The seige lasted five years.
Due to the death of her husband, Princess Carcas was the head of the Knights of the City.
Early in the sixth year when food and water were scarce, Lady Carcas decided to do an inventory to see what was left. When she was brought a pig and a sack of wheat, she decided to feed the wheat to the pig, which she then threw over the walls from the highest tower.
When Charlemagne and his army saw this, they assumed that the city must have a lot of food if it could afford to waste it in this way.
This meant that the siege might go on indefinately, and so they raised the seige. As the attacking army departed, Princess Carcas decided to ring all the bells, to celebrate their victory. People in the town all bagan to shout, "Carcas sonne!' meaning "Carcas rings!" And thus the name Cacassonne was born.
I was excited to hear this story, and disappointed when researching it later to see it was a legend. I had planned to write a childrens story about it, and I suppose I still can.. Many legends are still told and enjoyed today. :-)
So here is Princess Carcas, and there is a reproduction of the origianl atatue of her out at the main gates, to greet all who enter.
Here I was once again, just like at Mont St Michel, very high up with incredible vistas.
In the towers there were stone spiral staircases.
Being so high up I got a great appreciation for the cloud formations.
And there were many arches to pass through, as well as arched ceilings.
The work is so fine.
Some of the columns from the Roman era.
This chamber was the only one I saw with frescoes that survived.
Doorways, leading to more doors.
There was a smaller courtyard I passed through as I was leaving.
Walking towards the exit of this walled city I spotted this lovely display on an upstairs balcony.
Finally the gate came into view as it
started to rain.
We all piled into the SUV and went to do our grocery shopping before returning home to La Muse for our dinner.