I have to say that I don’t think my little cell phone pictures did the Cite de Carcassonne the justice it deserves. Walking up to the entrance of the old Cite from the Ville basse, the new city of Carcassonne, I really felt as if I took a step back in time. It truly is a remarkable monument of stone and manpower. The manpower that built the fortified Cite is a gift from laborers throughout hundreds of years, the Romans, the Visigoths, the Franks and the French. As I was reading up on the history of Carcassonne, I was surprised and impressed that even though the national government was intent on demolishing the old Cite because of its horrendous state of disrepair, an architect took it upon himself at the behest of the local federation of preserving monuments to restore the Cite of Carcassonne to its former glory. A side note that I found to be faintly amusing is that the architect, having spent a great deal of time up North, replaced the crumbling roofs with cone shaped roofs not quite suitable or climate appropriate in a region that is snow free. From what I have read, that was the sole critique and it has long been swept aside given the impressive nature of the restoration.
I think that the pictures, even if they aren’t the best in quality, are all that is required to whet the curiosity of future tourists. It should be on everyone’s to do list of travel destinations. I did find that week in August to be overbearingly hot and I would recommend visiting Carcassonne either in May or September when the air isn’t as oppressive. However the heat gave us an excellent excuse for ice cream breaks, never a bad thing especially when you see the tremendous array of flavors all beautifully presented such as peach, passion fruit, caramel beurre sale, mango, coffee and I can go on and on.
Carcassonne is within the region known for the classic dish called Cassoulet, a stew made with white beans, smoked meats, duck confit and sausage. I have never had it and I know that it is a dish that many rave about, but it is hard to build up an appetite for something that makes me think of cold winter days when I am walking through the cobble stoned streets of the Cite of Carcassonne and it is almost 100 and sweat is beading up everywhere. I think that for me I will try to make a cassoulet during this winter just to see if I like it. The cassoulet is famous as a classic example of French cuisine so it must be good. I know that I’m not a huge fan of beans but who knows, I love beans in my hubby’s chili, so there is a good chance that I would like beans in a cassoulet.
Overall I was enthralled by the history and the mystery that envelopes the Cite of Carcassonne, it remains a testament to the respect that the French have for their legacy and its enduring importance to the nation as part of its character.