What's it got? It's got the lot......

Trip Start May 16, 2013
Trip End Jul 19, 2013

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Flag of France  , Languedoc-Roussillon,
Thursday, June 27, 2013

Heading North from Barcelona, we decided we ought to make up some lost time and elected to drive direct to Carcassonne, bypassing the Costa Brava completely. Except that Jane wanted to see the Salvador Dali museum in Figueras so we popped in while passing. Sadly, a combination of my driving, our lack of Spanish and poor signposting and publicity meant that we completely failed to find it. No doubt, those of you out there who have been there will be amazed at our failure but that's how it happened. A waste of an hour and a half of our lives....

We had selected a campsite about 10km out of Carcassonne, near a "circular village" called Montclar. Montclar hasn't got much going for it but the campsite was stunning, being situated in a natural bowl within which, the owners had built a swimming pool complex that resembled a Greek amphitheatre - though which was somewhat larger than any I have ever seen. A touch ostentatious.... But the site has glorious views over the valleys and was only sparsely populated. Even better, our ACSI card got us a 39 Euro discount, paying only 32 Euros instead of the standard "peak season" fee of 71 Euros for two nights.... Bargain!

We headed into "La Cite" on Saturday morning and it's everything the brochures say it is. Beautiful, stunning and just so complete. Loads of tourist trash in the shops but it all adds up to a great atmosphere. And the views from the ramparts out over the "new(er)" town and beyond are lovely.

Having had a good eyeful of the town, we decided we ought to "do" one of the Cathar forts so we commanded Tom to take us to the Chateau de Peyrepetuse. I wouldn't have cared if we'd never reached the aforementioned chateau. The winding country roads that took us there were just fantastic. Rural France as it should be.... Only slightly marred by our disturbing of a village party/barbeque where we took catcalls and the like from the assembled locals for disturbing their Saturday afternoon festivities. The chateau is described in The Rough Guide as "the one to visit if you've only time/inclination to do one". The drive up from the village was three and a half kilometres up a mountain road, Jane getting slowly more "concerned". And at the top, was described a "fifteen minute walk through a box plantation". Correction Mr Rough Guide - a fifteen minute steep climb over rocky and uneven ground!! Jane was ready to give up as we were in unsuitable footware but we persevered and got to the main fort to be confronted by views of - the insides of the fort walls! But we found peepholes and the views across what we decided were most likely the foothills of the Pyrannees were stunning. I did the mountain goat thing and went up to the higher section of the fort but Jane opted for discretion at this point. Fabulous.... And the drive back to camp along a different route - and a completely different kind of road - was equally magnificent..... A great day!

So that was it, we'd done Carcassonne. Except that we really felt we ought to cycle along the Canal du Midi - which effectively goes straight through town. So we did. Sunday morning, we're up with the lark (ish!) and we're fitted for bikes and spent a lovely two hours cycling along the towpath. Again, it's just like the pictures!!!

Carcassonne really does have everything.....
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Becks on

I've read loads of books which involve Carcasonne and it's hard to believe all the "action" was so long ago - fabulous!

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