Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
It is the golden hour and the sun is just beginning to set as we cross the old bridge back into the lower city. Glancing back across our shoulders, we see the fortress, glowing in the last rays of the sun.
Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed medieval city with a history dating back more than two and a half millennia. The enchanting site is said to have been the inspiration for Walt Disney’s castle in Sleeping Beauty and has also been used as a backdrop for the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves movie.
While the medieval city within the walls is free to stroll around, visitors must pay to enter the main fortified castle. We arrive in Carcassonne in the late afternoon and by the time we find our way up to the castle (the route is horribly sign-posted), there is only 45 minutes left of visiting time. The entrance fee is steep – almost ten Euros per person – but we manage to get in for free on the back of our student IDs. The visit starts with a video of the fortress’ history; it is captivating but we have to cut the viewing short to see the rest of the castle.
Rushing through the castle, I absorb little of the information in the signs (in French, English, and German) that talk mainly about the fortifications of the city. What grabs my attention, however, is the beautiful castle itself, and the amazing views from its ramparts; the city sprawls at our feet, with small vineyards dotting the landscape.
Later, we take a more relaxed stroll through the narrow alleyways of the medieval town. It is packed with the usual tourist kitsch shops and restaurants touting the regional speciality, cassoulet, or white bean stew, but I can still glimpse what life must have been like all those centuries ago.
At night, we return to the base of the walled city. From the old bridge, we get a beautiful view of the castle, looking more fairytale-like than ever with its miles of romantically-lit walls. We linger for a while, enjoying the view as we sip wine and eat cups of mousse au chocolat in the balmy night air.
This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour.
We drove to Carcassonne, but the city is easily accessible by train. According to Wikitravel, high speed trains from Lille, Brussels, Dijon, Lyon, Marseille, and Toulouse stop here. The station is also on the regional and slow train networks. The medieval city is about half an hours’ walk from the train station.
Alternatively, you can also fly into the Carcassonne airport via Ryanair.
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