Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Inside La Cite, Carcassonne

It was wonderful to wake up knowing we didn't have to hurry or drive to our next destination.  We're in it!  We started out while it was nice and cool and early enough that most of the tourists had not shown up yet.  This is one of the most widely visited sites in France.  We headed for the Tourist Information to sign up for a walking tour at 1:30 this afternoon.  Meanwhile, we continued our exploration of this wondrous city, going inside the castle and along the ramparts.

Our restaurant from last night, viewed from the castle.

The vacuum cleaner guy, making sure La Cite is sparkling.

Outside the castle

High up along the wall

Carcassonne has a 2500 year history, extending back to Gallo-Roman times. Parts of the fortress have the original small building blocks; other parts are larger, medieval bricks; still others are from the 19th Century restoration. It is all incredible; I am so glad France finally had the foresight to save this treasure--a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We stopped at one of the many small cafes and while Chuck had a small, lemon, butter and sugar crepe, I had to try France's version of the Chicken Cesar Salad.  It was uniquely different and delicious with a mustard dressing rather than the classic Cesar.  The Parmesan was in large flakes and the croutons were, in fact, tiny pieces of toast, some more toasted than others.  Very satisfying.

We went on a guided walking tour this afternoon that added some content to the wonderful visuals we have experienced. The weather has been extremely kind to us this week (this trip!). At this point there was just enough sun to capture this 15th Century building with overhangs that reminded us of the tax-evasion techniques used in some of the Northern European countries--taxes are based on square footage at the base of the house, so the upper stories extend out; this gives the owner more space and the tax-man a poke in the eye.

This view from the rear of the castle reminds me that Costner's version of Robin Hood was partially shot here.

Our tour ended at La Basilique St. Nazaire, a beautiful former cathedral, reminiscent of Paris's Notre Dame.  The stained glass has been compared to St. Chappell.  We were so lucky that a male choir from Russia was singing.  They were so good, I bought one of their CDs.


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