Carcassonne is in many ways an artificial creation. On the one
hand, it is quite splendid for the visitor: the largest fortress in
Europe, claims the Michelin Guide, and named a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. It has a romantic history as one of the the strongholds of the
Cathar faith, subject to siege in the 13th century Albigensian
After the border with Spain moved south to the
Pyrenees, Carcassonne lost its strategic position, and it was
abandoned. The 19th-century Romantic movement restored interest in
such monuments, and the architect Viollet-le-Duc directed the
restoration of the medieval walled town and castle. But his work is
somewhat controversial today, since his imagination drove some of the
present details, such as the pointy tower roofs. Today only a
hundred-odd people actually live within the walls, and it's quite
touristy. But great fun!
Click on the small pictures to see larger ones.
||Benjamin and Isabel with their great-grandmother,
Mamie Lucienne. They're standing in the "lices hautes", or
||Just the kids.
(Some wicked moiré effects with
the stripes on Benjamin's shirt!)
||Outside walls. This is actually part of the Porte
Narbonnaise in the inner ramparts, the main entrance.
||Entering the town.
||Inside the Chateau Comtal, the Count's Castle, built
in the 12th century. It has a further moat-and-wall
system within the town walls. This is the Cour d'honneur,
the main courtyard.
||A view from the outer ramparts into the castle.
||A view from one of the many towers, of the castle.
||High above the lovely surrounding countryside, from the battlements.
||Buying postcards to send to friends and family.
||Relaxing at a café. In the foreground is my citron
pressé. This was great on a hot day: just squeezed lemon
with a jug of water and some sugar to make my own lemonade to taste (tart!).