Saturday, May 23, 2009

Carcassonne, France...Bonjour

So, Shea and I bounced on over to France for a couple days courtesy of Ryanair and their 1 Euro airfare specials. Ya...super sweet cheap airfare...but as we all know everything comes at a price, and in this case it meant a 2:30 am wake-up to make our flight out. Ouch, that's a kick to the oui-oui. (Tasteless pun intended and all comments/remarks can be sent to my editor at
So, we arrived in Carcassonne early Thursday morning. Carcassonne is a town in the south of France surrounded by the Pyrenees Mountains and has been around since before the Romans took over. The small walled-in city sits above the Aude River and overlooks rolling hills filled with vineyards and fields. When the Romans took control in the 1st century, they heavily fortified the city because of its importance along several trade routes. Throughout the next several centuries it was fought over and passed between differing conquerors with each one adding to the fortifications of the city. Starting in 1226, the city was taken over and held through the Middle Ages by the Trencavel dynasty. The Trencavels improved the fortifications, which remain today and provide us a sneak peek at what life was like 700 years ago during the Middle Ages in France. Not one Wal-Mart or 24 Hour Fitness insight...that and the black death, would have been a challenge.
We had a great time and were lucky enough to book a hotel within the walled city kidding, a Best Western. We toured the castle and wandered the tiny streets of the walled city. We ventured in a grand Catholic church with amazing stained glass windows. Through the morning the walled city is amazingly quiet with most shops not opening til 11:30 but by noon it is packed with visitors. We were shocked by the number of French families vacationing there. In the afternoon, we escaped the crowds and enjoyed a stroll down into the larger city stretching out below the castle and along the river. We headed back up to the walled city for dinner and tried some local specialties, with mixed results. After dinner we headed to our room and got some much needed zzz's.
On Friday, we slept in French style, and then went for coffee and pastries. We took a long walk around the walls and then went down into the lower city again for some French window shopping. We spent most of the day there exploring. The good thing about this trip was it was in a smaller town so we could walk the whole place no problem.
We headed back up by our hotel for dinner and found a great restaurant with a friendly waiter. The food was wonderful there and we had a great time enjoying the cool evening air together.
On Saturday, we woke up and caught our 9:00am flight back to Frankfurt and put a fork in Carcassonne. Au Revoir for now!