I love playing board games, although I rarely find the time these days. My absolute favourite is a strategy game called Carcassonne (which is now also an app). One of the game’s main aims is to arrange the square tiles in order to construct walled cities.
The in-game cities mirror an actual fortress called the Cité de Carcassonne in Southern France, after which the game is named. And which I added to my Bucket List the instant I learned it was a real place!
A few years ago, we decided to change things up on one of our trips back to the UK and fly via Paris. Our plans not only allowed us to meet up with Rich’s parents in the French capital for a couple of days, but also enabled us to go a little further afield before they arrived.
Although our definition of ‘a little further afield’ is perhaps a bit looser than most peoples’. I mean, Carcassonne is only 390 miles from Paris, as the Vultureses flies. That’s practically next door, right?
OK, so perhaps ‘remote’ from Paris is more accurate. In fact, by the time we’d completed our pre-Paris loop, we’d covered almost 1300 miles… in under five days! But boy was it worth it!
Rocamadour, the Pyrenees, Andorra, Northern Spain, the Pont du Gard and Lyon were all pretty cool, but the unquestionable highlight of our little jaunt was definitely Carcassonne itself. We arrived late afternoon, in time to see the sun bathing the imposing walls of the fortress-city in a beautiful golden light.
Cité de Carcassonne and the Pont Vieux (the Old Bridge) from across the River Aude
The west side of the castle forms part of the main city walls
The Cité de Carcassonne stands on a hill above the modern town. Most of the structures visible originate from the medieval period, although some parts date back to the Romans. As the sun set and night came on, we climbed the hill to forage for food… although we got repeatedly sidetracked along the way.
The Sun sets over Carcassonne
The castle from below
Heading up the… Hey! Get out of my picture!
That’s better… Heading up the hill towards the Port d’Aude (the Aude Gate)
Our hotel was located just outside the citadel, so the next morning we were able to get an early start. It began with an outdoor breakfast within the atmospheric old town. After that we headed off to explore the medieval city, citadel and ramparts.
Un peu petit déjeuner?
The castle’s outer entrance
And the inner entrance
The castle’s inner courtyard
Looking along the walls from the castle to the Port d’Aude
View across the rooftops of the Cité de Carcassonne
Today the Cité de Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which makes it even harder to to believe that by the 1800s the fortress was so dilapidated the French government decided to demolish it. Thankfully, the uproar that followed this declaration saved the citadel, and led to its (albeit sometimes whimsical) renovation.
One of the city’s wells
The timely restoration of Carcassonne has preserved a masterpiece of architectural and military history worthy of anyone’s Bucket List. I’m certainly glad we made our little side trip from Paris to see this mighty city for ourselves!
One of the Roman towers – note the rounded windows and the thin, red bricks
The Port Narbonnaise (the Narbonne Gate)
Between the curtain walls near the Port Narbonnaise
And back around to the Port d’Aude and the castle
This post was inspired by the themes Squares, Triangles and Angles (from Cee of Cee’s Photography) and Remote(from Sue of A Word in Your Ear).
Cité de Carcassonne from the south
While you’re still awestruck but the magnificence of Carcassonne (or perhaps just the scope of our ‘little jaunt’), why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?
And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!