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 !!

19 comments:

Casdok said...

It does sound wonderful!
Great cropping!

lampworkbeader said...

Oooh! You make it all sound so wonderful You are a crafty temptress. I bet your bookings are up for next year. Well I hope they are!

LittleBrownDog said...

Right - I'm definitely going to book for next year!

By the way, I don't know whether you've blogged about this, but have you read Kate Mosse's The Labyrinth set in Carcassonne? Would be v interested to know what you thought - I'm afraid I found it far too long and got irritated by the continuity blips (people's clothing inexplicably changing mid-scene). It did, however, paint a very evocative picture of medieval Carcassonne and the Cathars. Can you really see the Pyrenees from your window? Must be amazing to have two such wonderful sights within spitting distance.

Milla said...

Great cropping indeed and yes, you are a temptress. That luring finger beckons. How old is your small cross one? I have a small cross boy of 8, nearly 9. Just wondering ...

Sally's Chateau said...

Hi littlebrowndog, yes I have read Kate Mosse's Labyrinth and found it rather long myself but it did bring alive wondefully Carcassonne all that time ago. I went last Christmas Eve and had the entire place practically to myself and that was magical. Yes I can really see the Pyrenees from my bedroom window, I often wonder exactly how many pictures I need from the window !!

Sally's Chateau said...

Hi Milla, How old is The Small Cross One ? I would say it is more of a term of endearment but certainly a teenager who is becoming alarmingly like me at the same age (deep sigh)

Suffolkmum said...

Hey, I'm good with an Aga, love shopping in France and speak French - can you find me a quiet slot!!! Maybe for a whole six months or something?! I didn't like Labryinthe much, but do love all the history of that area. Must have been lovely on Christmas Eve.

muddyboots said...

looks good 4 next year! small x one might be good at doing cathar tours with plastic sword cutting a swathe through the tourists followed by some sort of bar b q.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Just thinking about a Purple Coo Skool trip somewhere....

Crystal xx

Sally's Chateau said...

Goes without saying that all Purple Coo members should contact me for special rates !!

Pondside said...

Yes, one day - in the quiet season - I can cook - love to shop - Great Dane is a serious handyman and lover of classic cars. Until then I'll just enjoy your blogs.

Exmoorjane said...

Sounds fabulous, Sally. Ditto to the others about Kate Mosse....so glad you all weren't that impressed...sorely disappointing I felt though yes, indeed, atmospheric. your guests sound great.....

countrymousie said...

It looks wonderful and is on my to do list now I am about to be released into the wild!! Sounds a bit out of Africa rather than out of Suffolk!!!!

Dont forget I am an old hand at an Aga. As most of us are I suspect.
love mousie

Un Peu Loufoque said...

I knbow that view well !

Grouse said...

Ah! There's nothing like a relaxed weekend with friends in beautiful surroundings.........

Need small cross one to cut a swathe through Chatsworth Park for me when you've done with her....no swords here but would provide a couple of 12-bore.......

Frances said...

Hello Sally,

The picture is dramatically beautiful, and I imagine that actually going to that place is even more spectacular.

You are so skilled at just making me want to check my passport, quit my job, bring my life savings, and ... showing up on your doorstep.

Somewhat, only somewhat, more seriously, how I would love to be able to spend some time in your area.

At our company's meeting yesterday, I learned that this year's profit sharing benefit is looking to be very generous.

This allows me, for the first time since I left a much more well paid job some nine years ago, to actually contemplate a real vacation next year.

All that you show and you tell just keeps me wanting to leave home.

xo

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Mmmmm was your guest a Purplecooer . . . would love to come and visit you oneday . . .

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Hey - perhaps we should have the Calendar shoot at the chateau . . .

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Mmmmmmm shaking piggy bank ...really hard! getting there!!