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Steph’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Location: Carcassonne, France

MapI thought Carcassonne was going to be a small town and one of the quieter places on our trip - not so! Carcassonne is in the south west corner of France, near the Pyrenees and the Spanish border. It is famed for its old fortified medieval town, which sits on a hill above the "new" town.

Despite the hordes of tourists in the old city, the medieval toan of Carcassonne is amazing. As soon as we walked in I said to Matt, this kind of reminds me of scenes from Kevin Costner's Robin Hood movie. Funnily enough, we went on an audio guide tour of the castle and found out that many films have been made in the old city, including Kevin Costner's Robin Hood. Clearly, Courtney and I watched it way too many times! Bryan Adam's Everything I Do, song just wouldn't get out of my head the whole time we were there!

Walking around the old city, you could imagine the knights running along the walls to fight the enemy outside the gates. Carcassonne is pretty unique because it has double fortified walls - an inner and outer wall with a grassy space between where knights practised fencing and so on. We walked all around the walls and also through the old village, with the half timbered and stone houses.

Carcassonne was actually attacked during the crusades against the Cathars, because the Viscount of the city was tolerant of the Cathars and let them have refuge there. In 1209 the city was attacked and many people died until the Viscount offered himself up in exchange for the freedom of his people. Anyway enough about the city - it is such an interesting place and the history of the area is too!

Other highlights of our trip of Carcassonne - eating cassoulet, Steph drinking a red beer (beer with red syrup) and our many picnics by the river Aude. We also took a punt up the man-made Canal du Midi, which is the 250km long canal from Toulouse to Sete. It was a 2 hour tour and we went through two locks, which are pretty amazing to see how they work! We were inspired to hire a boat and spend a week or two cruising the canal - one day!