Tag Archives: cassoulet

Hello. It has been a while

Hello.  Sorry, it has been a very long while since the last post.  Life has been busy, but not with blog-worthy topics.  Sometimes that happens.

Hopefully, I can get back into a writing groove – and find things of interest with which to engage and entertain you.  Bear with me, please!

Just after my last post, Graham and I took a short break to Carcassonne – a city that we visited 12 years ago, while we were house-hunting.  However, we were in the centre of the “new” town rather than in the old city.  This time I wanted to be in the fabulous castled ancient bits.  As I made the reservation, I got to choose, so my whim was indulged. It didn’t all go according to plan – largely as a result of my having failed to do my research properly.  I had assumed that an hotel with dedicated parking would mean that this parking would be at or alongside the hotel, not a golf-cart ride away.  Never mind!

Actually, I’m jolly glad that we couldn’t get closer to the hotel, as the streets are VERY narrow, and trying to negotiate them in the car would have been terrifying (and almost certainly very expensive).  My eyes were pretty much on stalks as I watched the hotel’s shuttle-cart chauffeur manoeuvre his way through the throngs of tourists and round ridiculously tight corners.

Driving inside the walls of the old cite at Carcassonne would have left me feeling like this!

Carcassonne’s old cité is beautiful, and it was staggering to learn that its preservation was really a matter of random luck, driven by Eugenie Viollet-le-Duc in the mid-1850s.  Without his vision, drive and determination it may have been lost for ever.  Whatever kudos was accorded to him during his lifetime, they will never be enough recompense or recognition.

We arrived late-afternoon and G was happy to be parked in a sunny spot with a cold beer for some people-watching while I undertook a quick recce of the fortress city and tried to find a place that would be open for dinner on a Sunday evening after high season had ended.  There weren’t as many places as I had imagined there might be.  In the end, we bucked the tourist trend for being sheeple, and chose a place where we were the only patrons in evidence, while others crowded into the 2 restaurants on the other side of the Place Saint-Jean.  Again, it was a good opportunity for people watching, and I enjoyed my absolutely local dish of cassoulet – regardless of the fact that it was rather warm for such a substantial dish.

Later, I found this sign on the wall of another establishment. Who knew that there is a universal academy of cassoulet?” Not I!

The speed with which the fortress emptied of people once the sun had set was impressive, and it didn’t take long for a wonderful peace to settle over the area.  I couldn’t resist the lure of the ramparts with almost no-one else around, and headed out for a wander and explore.  The area is magnificently maintained, and well illuminated, really giving atmosphere to the walls at night.  Forgive the less than NatGeo quality of my photos, but they’re not the worst:

Fortress de Carcassonne
I didn’t have to wait for there to be no people in my images


Fortress de Carcassonne
Let your imagination run riot – the battles and drama this place must have see through the years


Fortress de Carcassonne
At every vantage point there is a “wow!” moment
Fortress de Carcassonne
I reckon that Disney’s animators must have spent time here


Fortress de Carcassonne
The place is HUGE


Fortress de Carcassonne
I figure that these must have been some nasty boiling oil/fat points, don’t you?

I enjoyed the walk, and opportunity to shake down the heavy meal I’d consumed.  And was grateful for the chance to have seen the citadel without hordes of people.  It greatly improved my perception of the area (I loathe crowds), and made me glad that we had stayed inside the cité’s walls.  To have seen it only in the day-time would have been much to the detriment of my experience.  I resolved to explore further in the morning …. a post for another day!