The Cite De Carcassonne or a Book In Stone


We don’t leave our home for long periods of time. Instead, we choose several short trips a year. We rent a car, and travel across Europe, but not aimlessly, of course. I would say, we create our precious necklace choosing from particular pearls. Today, our pearl is La Cité de Carcassonne in Languedoc-Roussillon, France.

The walls of the medieval city-castle Сarcassonne, France.

It’s hard to write about such places. The history of Carcassonne is closely tied to the hunt for the Holy Grail, and the tragic destiny of the powerful Order of the Temple. I’d like to be the new Dan Brown to tell you this story as it ought to be told.

France is a country steeped in legends, but the most unusual of its provinces is Languedoc, and the medieval fortress of Сarcassonne with its castle is the heart of Languedoc.

7:00 a.m. Barcelona. We are in the SIXT rent-a-car. A much-desired BMW. It’s just the first series, but what a pleasure to drive! Our rally in Catalonia and France has begun. The plan for the day: drive to France, storm the Cathar Castle of Peyrepertuse, and check in at the Hôtel du Château in ancient Carcassonne.

Catalan roads are splendid, we fly/drive 130-150-170-190 km/h and enjoy it. Traffic signs are excellent, so we easily reached the Pyrenees and started to crawl through the mountains. The first Cathar Castle, Queribus, appeared on the horizon, but we should move on.

“Hey, pilot, slow down! Your navigating officer seems to be hanging over the precipice.”

Peyrepertuse is the largest of the Cathar castles, and relatively well-preserved. Languedoc, France.

The Peyrepertuse castle is amazing! We wrote about it. I am envious of anyone who walks for the first time through that secluded path to the very top of the rock, to the former donjon, or castle keep.

Languedoc

This part of France is famous for the great number of ancient Cathar castles including the legendary Château de Montségur. The history of these castles is really exciting. When you arrive here, you feel like you touch those ancient tragic events in Europe. The Crusaders against the Holy Grail. Yes, I mean against the Holy Grail. This is how many modern historians characterize the Albigensian Crusade. Twenty years of war, one million of dead.

Do you remember how one of the Pope’s legates answered the question “Holy Father, how can we discern Catholics and heretics?”

“Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.”“Kill everyone! God will sort it out!”

When the last Cathar was burned at the stake, Europe was on its knees before the Holy Inquisition.

fire

If one day you decide to make such a trip, provide yourself with a good portion of historical knowledge. Unfortunately, we did not do it. As a result, we found out only when we came home, that the famous village, Rennes-le-Château, is located in the immediate vicinity of La Cité de Carcassonne. Therefore we prepared a new, this time a big tour of Languedoc.

Hôtel du Château

Well, we are at the hotel Du Chateau Charme Design.

The Hotel Du Chateau. Languedoc, France.

Opening the door of our standard room, I could not believe my eyes. If this private mini-hotel has only three stars?! But we never had such a room, neither in the Marriott, nor in the Sheraton. The room looks like a precious casket. (Update: Recently, we found out the hotel received a well-deserved 4 stars. Connoisseurs of web design can estimate their excellent website.)

I can say nothing about other rooms, but our №1 was admirable! Style and taste in every aspect. One more note: here, the level of service was considerably higher than in Barcelona.

Hotel Du Chateau. Сarcassonne, Languedoc, France.

Hotel Du Chateau. Сarcassonne, Languedoc, France.

La Cité de Carcassonne

We were so eager to come here, but there were some concerns: some feedback about the too-intensive remake and reconstruction of the city. We wandered along its streets and fortifications like enchanted wanderers. Now that I’ve seen it with my own eyes, I want to say that beautiful France has many destroyed or nearly destroyed castles and fortresses, but Carcassonne is definitely worthy of being carefully retained for future generations. There are clever guys in UNESCO.

The walls of the medieval city-castle Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

Сite de Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

Yes, the reconstruction is visible. You will be able to learn the Carcassonne castle history starting from the Roman period until the later Middle Ages by the non-homogeneous bricks and different roofs of its towers. Furthermore, I can’t call the castle a “remake”—the last reconstruction occurred in the middle of the XIX century, 150 years ago, by the way.

One of the towers of the medieval castle Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

Сite de Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

Sunrise. As always, early awakening, delicious breakfast with a French cheese plate, warm croissants, locally pressed apple juice, hot chocolate, and all this with the view of the old city of Carcassonne.

There are several equally small hotels located nearby, but only Hotel Du Chateau has an open terrace right behind the castle walls and a couple of guards—good-natured landlady’s dogs.

One more curtsey to the hotel—they kindly allowed us to use the fridge of the hotel kitchen when we brought a ton of French cheeses (with stupefying smells) purchased for our relatives and friends.

The view of the walls of Carcassonne from the Hotel Du Chateau. Languedoc, France.

Dogs in the Hotel Du Chateau. Сarcassonne, Languedoc, France.

Well, it’s time to go to La Cité de Carcassone. It is sleeping yet. This time is perfect for further acquaintance.

One of the streets of the medieval Cite de Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

Chez Sashia. One of the best restaurants of the medieval city Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

A few hours later, we entered the castle itself and walked around its walls. It’s so easy to imagine the spurs jingling along the castle passages, it seems I even caught sight of a tabard. A window opened a tiny crack—she also noticed him. It’s all fantasy.

Towers of the medieval castle Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

Cite de Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

La Dama Carcassonne.

There is no other fortress with such a strong three-kilometer wall and 52 towers in France. This city/castle can cause everyone to tremble in front of it. Its power can be compared to Krak des Chevaliers, a castle located in Syria seized with the fire of war now. We missed the opportunity to visit it. Carcassonne is the last relic of the European giants sunk into oblivion. It is a stony book opened for learning history.

Towers of the medieval fortress of Carcassonne. Languedoc, France.

Сite de Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

One of the towers of the medieval La Cite de Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

We really enjoyed the Carcassonne, both highlighted at night,or sunlit in the middle of the day, and even the drizzling rain did not spoil the impression from its grey walls. It was such a pity to leave Languedoc. There are so many interesting things here! For example, the famous Rennes-Le-Chateau village with its well-kept secrets of the Templars and the Order of Sion. Well, we’ll explore it one day.

Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse. La Сite de Сarcassonne, Languedoc, France.

Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse. La Сite de Сarcassonne, Languedoc, France.

Eglise Saint-Gimer. La Сite de Сarcassonne, Languedoc, France.

A tip for explorers who prefer not to move shoulder-to-shoulder with other explorers: try to avoid the vacation and school holiday periods; the old city will be absolutely occupied.

French cuisine

Well, what to say? Charmant. Looks like Languedoc is a paradise for the foodies. Fragrant onion soup, foie gras, a wide assortment of salads with delicious roasted goat cheese…. Yummy. Here, for the first time we tried a cider!

La gloire de la France!

French cuisine in the Chez Sashia, one of the best restaurants of the old Сarcassonne. Languedoc, France.

More about France:
Empty Papal Palace in Avignon
How Not to Die of Hunger, Examining Benedictine Abbey in Jumieges

50 Responses to “The Cite De Carcassonne or a Book In Stone”

  1. newsferret Says:

    Great post and lovely pics and if I may be presumptuous on the first photo I would have moved at least 30 meters further left to bring the walls in fuller. Simply a matter of taste as photographers like paint and sketch artists can also be selfish and self opiniated.

    Like

  2. Trinity Rivers Says:

    Incredible pictures. What a wonderful you’ve had.

    Like

  3. tokyomike55 Says:

    Wow. Amazing. Fantastic. Spectacular. And any other superlative you can think of. This is an amazing post with amazing photos. Thanks for adding a must-do journey to my list!

    Like

  4. toxicprof Says:

    These are amazing pictures! Hope to visit this one day.

    Like

  5. Little Fingers Says:

    Great post and amazing pictures.

    Like

  6. Mjollnir Says:

    Fantastic post Viktor. 😀

    Like

  7. Andrew Petcher Says:

    I have been there twice but never achieved pictures like this. Well done Victor!

    Like

  8. Animalcouriers Says:

    Wonderful photos of a glorious region!

    Like

  9. herdesignjournal Says:

    Hi! You mentioned that you wish Dan Brown would write about this place because of its great history, but author Kate Mosse has a trilogy out, all about Carcassonne through the ages, with a fictional story, almost exactly like Dan Brown, just incase you’re interested!

    Like

  10. TheTuscan Says:

    France is always France! Especially Southern France….

    Like

  11. A French American Life Says:

    Carcassonne is high on my list of places I must visit SOON. Lovely photos!

    Like

  12. Pam Says:

    Incredibly gorgeous pics! The dogs look very sweet!

    Like

  13. Any Lucky Penny Says:

    Absolutely beautiful! I went here 5 years ago and I loved it so much! Your pictures made me remember all of the fun memories I made! Thanks Victor!

    Like

  14. Garden Walk Garden Talk Says:

    I always love your tours. What a wonderful life and you capture it so well Victor.

    Like

  15. pleisbilongtumi Says:

    Looks fantastic place to visit. thank you for sharing the incredible photos and very interesting story of the travel.

    Like

  16. wordsfromanneli Says:

    I love seeing all those old buildings. It always makes me wonder what events happened in those places. Who walked on those cobblestones? Who rode their horses up those paths to the fortresses? What battles were fought there? Who was imprisoned in those rooms? So much history!

    Like

  17. solaner Says:

    Wonderful, as always

    Like

  18. lioandshezz Says:

    Very nice photos and article!!!!

    Like

  19. Naresh Ramadurai Says:

    Brilliant photographs and a great article. Awesome!!!

    Like

  20. Penne Cole Says:

    How beautiful! I will definitely have to visit one day. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  21. Dame Carcas Says:

    Thanks to speak so well about my native wonderfull town !
    I will probably take one of your picture to illustrate a post about my son baptism.
    And sorry for my poor english.

    Like


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