A Medieval Escape: Carcassonne

Thursday, November 10, 2016

To end my Halloween break I booked a flight from Dublin to Carcassonne, which was only an hour away from Toulouse by train. Carcassone is a small town in the south of France and is very popular for its medieval castle. This small town is made up of two parts. The old part which consists of the castle quarters and the new part, where all the shops and night life is at. The two main attractions we went to were Cité de Carcassone and the Canal du Midi

Cité de Carcassonne 

The castle is situated on top of a hill and in order to get there we had to walk over a bridge called Pont Neuf which gives you a beautiful view of the castle from a far. This is a great place to take pictures, no matter what time of the day it is. When we arrived at the entrance we saw a lot of tourists. Most of the were group of students, families and elderly couples. 

Entering the gates I was really in awe. I was surprised why Game of Thrones still hasn't featured this castle in their series. We walked along the cobblestone streets and medieval themed shops that made you feel like you're back in the 1300's. There were a lot of souvenir shops that sold medieval themed merchandise such as toys, magnets and weapons. 

As we walked along the old streets that were filled with children dressed as princesses and knights, we made our way to the "Remparts" where one can find a museum. The line was quite long but it was worth it because we did not have to pay for the visit as visits were free for students (just show them your student card). 

The ramparts were the main part of the castle where we watched a short video about the   historical timeline of the chateau and its architect. After the video we made our way around the castle rooms and towers where we were able to see the simple yet scenic town of Carcassone. Walking those halls and towers showed how the castle was well defensed for     attacks. 

We took our time roaming around as we enjoyed seeing the beautiful views from all different parts of the castle. We also had fun going in to the medieval shops as we found some interesting things that they used to use back in those days. One highlight of our day was we had a cartoonist draw our side portraits. There were some people walking around dressed up in medieval attires and horse carriages roamed around the castle quarters too.

The chateau offered a lot of panoramic sights. The day just flew by and we were able to appreciate its charm from noon till night. There were some landscapes that the camera couldn't capture that only our eyes could which made our trip very worth its while.

Canal du Midi

On our last day in Carcassonne we took an unexpected boat trip on the Canal du Midi. We were on our way to the train station to catch our train but we had two hours to spare so we dropped all our luggage at the dock near the station and took an autumn morning boat trip along the canal just for €6 each for students

Our tour guide talked about the history of canal; how it starts from Toulouse and runs along multiple towns in the south of France. 

The boat ride was 90 minutes long and it was a nice way to start the day. The trip was tranquil as there were no cars passing by. We were greeted by joggers who were on the side paths and by other people who were having their own canal cruise on their boats. We also saw a picturesque Cité de Carcassonne from a far. Basically it was a perfect way to end our trip in Carcassone and it is something I would really recommend.

As for my overall thought about the town of Carcassonne, I think it's perfect for simple romantic autumn get aways or nice road trip with your friends. The trip itself was very cheap as they offered cheaper prices for students. It is a good place to get away from the stressful life of college or the city where everyone is busy and always out and about. For this trip we were more laid back and it offered us an equal and excellent blend of history and nature.

A bientôt, Dawn

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