Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Carcassonne Diaries: Day 2 - Thursday 22 September 2016

Our first full day in Carcassonne.  Of course when in France, I always go in search of music videos on TV.  But things have changed and I can't find any on M6 any more.  Happily, I quickly discover CStar which would keep me happy for the duration of the holiday and that also means I'll be able to do another "holiday hit list" post which I haven't done for a while (this will follow after I've published all my holiday diaries),

It's another bright, sunny and hot day inside the Cité.  We head back to the Place Marcou for breakfast as we are only staying 'room only' in our hotel.  Needless to say, when in France we have to go for the traditional French breakfast.  There are plenty of brekkie "formules" available in all the restaurants but these are only served up to 11.00am.

Shopping in the Cité seems to mainly focus on small independent craft shops and souvenir shops, as well as upmarket gift shops selling the region's local specialities such as this one below.  

For more conventional shopping, you need to head downhill to the "new city".  For the moment though we are exploring the citadel in daylight, in more detail.  Yet again the place is packed with tourists - Carcassonne is definitely a daytime tourist destination.  It's no wonder it's so popular though as the sights are quite breathtaking.

After exploring the perimeter of the citadel, we make our way back to Place Marcou for lunch. Before coming to Carcassonne I was a bit worried that there would be very limited options for people who don't eat red meat or fish, but I needn't have worried.  Although Carcassonne is the capital of Cassoulet, there would be plenty of options after all.  Today I have this tasty tagliatelle (pictured below) for lunch.  We notice that the people at the next table are having cassoulet, which is a stew with a great big duck leg on top.

The weather is now very hot.   Our plan for the afternoon is to walk down to Pont Vieux and make our way into the old city.  Before that though we have an unscheduled stop off at a little place hidden away on Rue Trivalle, to get out of the baking heat for a while.

We're not really into visiting military museums, but made an exception for the Centre Culturel de la Memoire Combattante (above).  It's a small museum on two floors, full of exhibits, uniforms and memorabilia from France's involvement in military campaigns over the last century. The information captions are in French but happily our understanding of written French is good enough.  The first floor is mainly given over to World War 2 and the French resistance.  One section is particularly distressing as it displays letters from people from Carcassonne who died in the concentration camps.

There are also displays about more recent French operations e.g. peacekeeping in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  This museum is very interesting and thought-provoking.  Entrance is free but donations are accepted.

Time to head for the new city.  We cross the Pont Vieux.

You get a great view of the Cité from the Pont Vieux.

In the other direction is the Pont Neuf.

It's quite a long walk from the Cité to the new city, so we've planned to get the 'petit train' back up the hill.  Transport is not very regular between the old and new cities so make sure you check your timetables.

At the bottom of the hill, you'll find more conventional shops in the town.  There are also some nice sights too.

We can't hang around too long though or we'll miss our petit train, and in this heat the alternative (walking back uphill) isn't an option!  We won't have time to explore the canal area or take the boat trip, so that's something for a return trip.  What we see of the new city is nice, although the Cité is such a special place that there's no competition.

More big decisions to be made tonight about where to eat, as there are so many possibilities.  Faithful travelling companion wants to try cassoulet.  There are several different versions of this dish.  No massive duck leg in sight tonight, because it's all about the sausage (oo-er missus!!)

As for me, I go for the menu's veggie option.  We have another lovely evening out, and just like last night, we end up at Place Marcou just before closing time.  

I previously mentioned that Carcassonne by night is a very different, and much quieter place than it is by day.  By night, it's certainly as photogenic.  

In the next instalment: our last full day in Carcassonne. 

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