Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 12 - Carcassonne - Our Last Day in France

Saturday, September 17th
          It's about a half day drive from Beynac through Sarlat, Gordoun, Montauban, and Toulouse to the truly ancient walled city of Carcassonne. The site has been occupied since at least 3500 B.C., and the Romans fortified the hilltop around 100 B.C.
          As we approached, our first view of the old city walls was across open green fields, the walls and towers impressive in the late afternoon sun.
          Following the turn by turn directions we had been given, we found no way into the old walled section of the city where our hotel was located, but instead found our progress stopped at a modern lift-gate next to a pre-fab booth manned by someone who asked the name of our hotel before raising the gate and told us to park next to the city wall itself.
          The attendant called for transportation for Bill and the suitcases, and directed us to walk along the outside of the walls to the ancient main gate, cross the moat, through the inner gate, across the square, though the next gate, and just up the main street ot the top of the hill, where we should turn left for a few yards to find the hotel.
           Except for special circumstances, no vehicles are allowed during the daylight hours on any of the very narrow cobblestone streets of the old city. The shop lined streets, the width of alleyways, are crowded elbow to elbow with pedestrian tourists. It reminded me very much of the similar steep streets of Mount St. Michel in Normandy. 
          Our French friends Christine and Uili, fresh from a week's vacation in Corsica, had made the five hour drive from their home in Upie, France that morning, and were waiting to greet us with big smiles and hugs.They decided to go with Jane and me for a walk though the old town to explore the walls.

           We crossed yet another draw bridge and passed through the barbican of the second layer of defenses, exploring a bit of the fortified bastion. We wandered back out and down a side street, finding an old stone stairwell that led to an open area perhaps twenty yards wide between the inner and outer walls of the city. We walked along the ramparts for a way, eyeing the veils of rain approaching across the valley.
Christine and Uili

          Making our way in a light drizzle back to the hotel, where we met Bill and Miriam, the six of us found our way to a square in the oldest part of town. 

     It was edged with restaurants and bistros, tables filling the whole square ... a perfect place for our last dinner in France, including omelet with mushrooms, seafood salad with bread  and goat cheese, some vin rose, and creme brulle to top it off.

No comments:

Post a Comment