Tuesday, 25 September 2007
The tourist in Carcassonne
The weekend saw some old friends arrive for some fun. As the house was empty they were spoilt for choice. They plumped for the master bedroom with the views of the Pyrenees and vineyards stretching into the distance, I'm not entirely sure however that they appreciated my gesture early in the morning. Flinging the windows wide open so they could fully embrace the French countryside I was reminded gently that they were on holiday. Of course I couldn't possibly divulge who they were and how they swung four idyllic days with the entire place at their disposal but I will say one thing. Guests that insist on shopping, sourcing local gastronomic delights and then taking full charge of the Aga will generally find me very ameniable when finding them a quiet slot !!
'Where should we really visit when on a trip to Carcassonne' ? they enquired. My heart generally sinks at this one because there is one seriously popular hotspot that seems to heave, bulge even, at all times of the year. It is of course the medieval walled La Cité. If you want to rub shoulders with every nationality then here's your place. 'Come on' urged The Small Cross One, it'll be a laugh.
We took them the scenic route so that instead of arriving through the town of Carcassonne we approached it from a side which just showed the entire walled city itself sitting on top of the hill. 'Wow' they said. Even I had to admit it was impressive, the superbly renovated points of the towers looking down menacingly at those below.
We quickly weaved our way through the milling crowds, 'don't go into any of the shops' I warned 'they are full of touristy tat'. In the end they purchased a lovely hand made bag with sequins and a bar of heavenly smelling soap. I guess it's just knowing how to cut your way through all the plastic Cathar swords and provencial tablecloths.
The Small Cross One twirled and danced her way down the steep descent of the inner walls and gazed out over the town from one of the 52 towers. When we were leaving I spied the little train that takes you slowly round the outer circle of this awesome place dating originally back to the 12th century.
'Come on' I shout excitedly, 'all aboard'
Afterwards we came home to the most delicious bean and pork stew that had been slowly cooking in the Aga.
I think I could get to quite like this holiday lark.
Oh look, I've just discovered how to crop my pictures, oh well practice makes perfect as they say !!