Friday, August 5, 2022

Continuing to Explore the Fortress in Carcassonne

We continue our exploration of the fortress and climb up to the ramparts (les remparts) where we are rewarded with great views of the city below.

To the ramparts, city below

We walk on the wall of the fortress, from tower to tower, with changing views of the fortress, the medieval city, and the countryside outside.

Walking the ramparts

Views inside and outside

About halfway around, we reach the cathedral, an impressive structure in the center of town.


We continue on the ramparts, up and down the stairs between levels and in the towers.

Lots of stairs

Continuing around

When we finally come down from the ramparts, we wander out of the fortress and into the cathedral:  Basilica of Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Celse We've seen it a lot as we walked around the outer edge and find it is just as impressive inside.  Originally constructed as a church in the 6th century by the Visigoths, the cathedral construction began in 1096 and it is now a French national monument.

Basilica of Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Celse

Outside in the medieval town, there is cassoulet on every menu.  We need to come back some time, spend the night, and dine on cassoulet!

Cassoulet everywhere

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Carcassonnne, France

Carcassone is a fortified city inhabited since 3,500 BC, built on the historic trade route linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean.  The Romans recognized its strategic importance and occupied Carcassone until the end of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century.  After that, it was occupied by the Visgoths, then briefly came under Islamic rule several centuries later.  In 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees transferred the province to France. The medieval fortress dates back to the Gallo-Roman period (1 BC to 5 AD) and is now a UNESCO world heritage site.

We catch the train from Montpellier for a day trip and exit the Carcassone station into the scenic modern town adjacent to the fortress.  We cross the Canal du Midi in front of the station and walk into town.

Modern Carcsassonne

We're here to visit the fortress and we cross the River L'Aude into the old town to reach it.

Through the old town to the fortress
We cross the castle moat and enter, first doing a tour around the fortress just inside the outer wall.

Cross the moat to enter

Walking between the outer and inner walls

Through the gaps in the wall, we get great views of the modern city and the countryside below.

Views out

Entering through the inner wall, we find a charming medieval city just outside the fortress itself.

The city inside the walls

But, we're here to see the fortress and we pay and enter.

Entry to the fortress

The path through the fortress first winds through courtyards and shares historical information, then proceeds up into the ramparts, touring the outer walls of the structure.

Inner courtyards

Models of the fortress

Traditional garments

Weapons and ammunition

But, enough of the inner courtyards and history, it's time to tour the ramparts (next blog, stay tuned)!