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Winter has come - Protect the castle!

@ Carcassonne

rain 12 °C

Legend has it that Princess Carcas, seeing Charlemagne lift the siege on her town, ordered the bells to be rung. People then cried "Carcas sonne" [Carcas rings] and this is how the town got its name.

Foodie moment

After a few hours of walking around a windy,cold castle, we hunted for something to warm us up... this hit the spot! 'Vin Chaud' - hot wine (Some will know it as Mulled Wine) tasted like Sangria but gives you the warm fuzzies as it goes down! :)


Cassolette is the speciality of the area and every restaurant in the town served it. We chose a restaurant with a VERY cheap set menu - 3 courses for 15 Euros, with the cassolette one of the main course options. In hindsight, perhaps the cheapness of the menu meant we weren't getting the best quality product but oh well, at least we tried it! Entree - French Onion Soup, Main - Pork Cassolette cooked in goose fat, Desert - Crepe (no picture included as unfortunately they microwaved it so we were a little disenchanted with the dish!!)


Cultural moment

Pizza, pizza everywhere - are we in Italy? The French have amazing traditional foods but they LOVE pizza! Majority of restaurants sell it, there is always an Italian restaurant nearby and the queues are always the longest outside them! They also have an obsession for Sushi, with 'Japonais' restaurants everywhere! Surprisingly it seems to be the affordable option too!!

Wow moment

If you're a fan of the TV show Game of Thrones, or a computer nerd like myself (Mark) and have played Skyrim, you will get a sense of deja vu/nostalgia upon approaching, and then exploring the amazing walled city and chateau of Carcassonne. As we approached by car, we got a few glimpses of the surrounding wall and its turrets. Excited by the prospect of living a real life video game, I was eager to explore. It was a 15 minute walk from our camp site. For the first few minutes I was saying to Lise "Where is it?" and then suddenly, on the hillside, there it was. How could you miss it, absolutely stunning. With the surrounding forest and lower village, we actually felt like we had stepped back a few 100 years. The fact that there was really nobody around as we walked up the narrow pebble back-path and into the first section of the wall made it even more surreal. You can literally explore the walls and towers of the outer section a freely as you like. We didn't see a single person until we passed well into the city itself. The inside of the city is just as medieval as the exterior. Not until you actually walk by the shops, and notice the tourist goods like iphone covers etc, are you knocked back into reality. We explored the inner Chateau (a fortress within a fortress) of the city and learnt a lot of interesting history about the place. We had a nice dinner and drinks there, and explored a little more. We actually found the front entrance last, with moat and permanent bridge (no longer a draw bridge), but I think coming in the back way was a much more realistic and exciting experience, having nobody around and falling into the belief that we actually were exploring the castle on our own.


What we learnt today

Surprise surprise, today's lesson in 'What we learnt' is about the Carcassonne medieval walled city. Originally, it was owned in the 12th century by one of the most powerful families in the south of France, the Trencavel family. However, in 1208 Pope Innocent III called for a siege of the castle as the Trencavel family were allowing discussion of Christianity. During the siege, the villages were allowed to leave with their lives, but the king died a lonely death within the castle. It was then gifted to the King of France's son and he developed it into an impenetrable fortress. Nobody dared to attack the castle as it was a certain loss. Its defences were extended to a point where attacking it was pointless. With the change of borders, the city stopped being an important defence against the Spanish, and was left to fall into ruin. In the 19th century, the plans for its restoration from ruins were drawn by Mr Viollet-le-Duc, who was the architect who designed the Notre Dame in Paris. It took 50 years to complete the restoration, a milestone that the architect sadly never saw.

Posted by travellinglise 13:15 Archived in France

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Mark, did you speak to all the NPCs and craft any dragonbone weapons?

by Paul

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