Thursday, February 27, 2014

Printing, Posting and Plane Trees: My Last Visit to Carcassonne

My second trip into the lower city of Carcassonne was really an errand trip.  I had written a children's story I wanted to submit to a fiction contest and I needed to get it printed out so I could send it off and meet the contest deadline. It was a fiction short story contest on the theme of 'holidays." It seemed pretty aappropriate theme. :-)
We met as usual outside the front of La Muse and Kerry was there with Homer so we had a chat as we waited for John. 
We discovered that the chapel right next door to La Muse was open, as the caretaker was working there. She let us in to have a peek and I was stunned at the beauty of this little space. Such amazing art crammed into a small church.
There was a little confessional box at the back of the church.  I loved the blue walls.
There were statues and icon art everywhere you looked.

Jenn and I took pictures of each other at the entrance as we realized we had very few pictures of ourselves while we were staying at the retreat.

Driving in on this last Thursday of January, we could see evidence of snow on the mountain roads. It was January 30th and I couldn't believe we would be into February in a few days.
The pictures were taken through the car windows and so they are blurry. 
Our first stop was at the railway station as I had to get my tickets for my trip on February 7th to Genova in Italy. 
John went in with me to help interpret my request. Luckily I had researched the trip and had all the changes written down. It was an interesting trip involving changes at Narbonne, Marseille, Nice and Ventimiglia. I was hoping I might get some great glimpses of the Mediterranean as we travelled along the Cote D'Azure. After much discussion I finally got my tickets and I want to give a  big thank you to John for his help. 
Next, I got dropped off at the Internet cafe in order to do my printing.  Also I had a poem to submit online to another publication.  One thing the retreat did for me besides get me writing, was to start me submitting my work for publication.  This was a big step for me.  I don't have a problem creating work, its the next step, that of submitting it, that has been a block for me.
The Internet cafe was well equipped and I had a coffee while there. 
We had problems with the printing and getting files to show up, as the formatting was an issue. Fortunately the people in charge of the Internet cafe were very helpful and figured it all out. 
While I had access to a computer I also did some YouTube work on my PamelaSunshineTV channel as there is only so much you can do from an iPhone :-)
Then I put my story and cover letter into my envelope and headed off to the Post Office.
Just outside the cafe was this impressive memorial to the lost soldiers.
As I mentioned in a previous blog this area was active in the resistance movement. 
From the statue I spotted this impressive building.
It was a pleasure to be out in the streets of this beautiful city and once again take in its archtecture. Looking up as I approached the centre of town I spotted a plane. :-)

I passed beautiful flower shops and a boulangerie.

I was still surprised by how narrow the streets were.
The doors and details I happened upon demanded attention.  It really is a beautiful city. 

I loved this bell and the arches. 
More lovely flowers.
The sculptures placed on the corners of buildings always surprised me.
After posting off my story and some gifts I had for my grandchildren from last weeks visit to the castle, I popped into the Sunshine Cafe to see my friend from Peterborough. I'd told her two weeks before that I would be back. I was pushed for time so I just had a piece of her delicious carrot cake. I ate it as I walked through the streets. 
Soon I was in the market square and heading for the station to meet John and the others.
I took a detour to see some new streets on my way out of the city centre.
The pink decor in this Pattiserie was retro fifties and quite a surprise. 

And there were even more shutters, I just love shutters.

And wrought iron was everywhere too.

Now this struck me as funny.  It really is 'relaxed." Not in the way they meant I am sure. 
I didn't realize there was another cathedral in Carcossonne. It was right on the street, packed in between the buildings.

Nearing the edge of town I saw these signs and a balcony that was colourful and matched the window`.  I loved the colours and the artsy feel. The laundry pegged to the line caught my eye, real life in Carcassonne.

A pigeon was perched on a tangled vine.
Finally, I got a last pic of the narrow streets. So pretty.
I had to walk past the Canal Du Midi on my way to the station. I noticed a banner about the canal and replacing the plane trees that had once lined its shores. 
I had a conversation in French with the man in a booth there. I had read about how the trees, (Arbres plantanes) were  being decimated by a fungal disease that spread through the root systems. 
Because the trees along the canal had been planted so close to one another to provide constant shade for travellers on the canal, they had been particularly vulnerable to the disease.
Between 2006 and 2010 the French Waterways Authority had been forced to fell 9,000 of the 42,000 plane trees that were "emblematic if the Canal Du Midi."  They know that the disease will infect the remaining trees. 
 Now there is a huge replanting project underway. I was so happy to be able to buy a book of beautiful postcards to support them in their efforts. They are replanting with a disease resistant species and hope to restore the canal, a national treasure, to its former glory and maintain their classification as a UNESCO  World Heritage site. 
Here's one of the pages from this beautiful collection of photographs so you can see how it looks with the existing trees lining the canal. 
I walked on to my ride at the station and John drove us all to the supermarket for our last grocery shop while at the retreat. I couldn't believe I'd  be off in a week. 
The sun was just starting to go down and I had to take another picture of the magical light in the French sky. 
Then it was off home to La Muse.  Just over one more week left. I was sad to say goodbye to the city of Carcassonne. The next time I would be here would be to catch the train to Genova in Italy. 
The following Thursday we planned to visit Lastours, the home of the famous Four Cathar Chateaux.  But that my friends is another story.

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