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April 25th 2019
Published: April 27th 2019
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The MarketThe MarketThe Market

Lovely lady, had a conversation had no idea what she said.
We choose Carcassonne over other places in France that we haven’t been before, for one reason; potential place to retire. The cost of living here is very low a 900 square foot apartment with two bedrooms for $900 a month. That is less than half of what we pay in New York for 720 square feet and one bedroom.

To fully get the feel for the town, our original plan was to rent a couple of bikes, stop at a couple of real estate offices then ride by apartments, houses, etc. Biking was not in our stars. First, I had originally booked some bikes on line, but they never confirmed or responded to my three e-mails, at least no money exchanged hands. The hotel did have bikes available, even though they did not advertise that, so the day before we reserved two. Well after three attempts to find two bikes in working order, it was not going to happen. Turned out that the center of town is extremely walkable so we did not even really need them. The only thing we did not cover was a ride down the midi-canal.

So, after our breakfast at the hotel, and it was quite the spread more than just bread and cheese, we started walking around the town. The first stop Place de Carnot, this is in the center of the Bastide and 4 days a week there is a vegetable market. The prices were very reasonable and the produce looked very tempting. I did have to buy some local cheese and salami, both Basque influenced and made on a local farm. They were very tasty.

We continued on towards the southern boulevard of the bastide. The town is unfortunately undergoing a current economic downturn as there are several shops that are closed and spaces for rent. There is also still plenty of shops open, there is a high-end shopping street that leads in to the Place de Carnot.

We then found the permanent covered meat and fish market. You can get anything you need or want here, including heat and serve cassoulet or already prepared duck confit. Of course, you can also get any internal organ you desire. The market closes at 12:30 daily, so you need to shop early.

We spent the rest of the day just strolling the streets getting the feel for the city. We definitely think it is a place we could retire, but don’t let the secret out of this quaint, historic and chill find, the prices may go up before we retire.

We did make the mistake of eating lunch on the main square; we know that these places are typically not that good and very much focused on tourists. This was not much different, lunch is not even worth mentioning, other than what they called a baguette was not much better than American white sandwich bread and the worst frittes in France. It was also service rapide, never a good sign. I thought our server was going to have a heart attack he was running around like a chicken with his head cut off, very not French.

After that we returned to the hotel and enjoyed our pool, had some of the cheese and sausage purchased earlier in the day.

The restaurant for dinner was recommended to us by the hotel manager, he has only been in the city for 10 months, so we were skeptical, especially after we walked in. It was a small place and you instantly had the feel of a hipster place in Portland Oregon. The staff was young and very hipster in appearance. We ended up being pleasantly surprised. The food was very good. We started with a fresh artichoke dip, the place is called L’Artichaut, so you better have some artichoke, it was ok, but needed some zing.

Jerry had Joue de Boeuf Confite with Sauce Morillee, otherwise known as confit beef cheek with a Morrel sauce. The beef melted in your mouth and the sauce was very good, it came with frittes, cooked how they are supposed to be cooked.

I had a risotto with confit of veal in a Morrel cream saucer. Also, very good and melted in your mouth. We paired it with a nice local red wine.

We did not have dessert but they did serve us a shot of locally made cream de mint, a bit reminiscent of scope, you have to like mint to like this as a paratif.

It was a very pleasant day and again, almost no English spoken anywhere.

This was also the last night in Carcassonne, we will start the driving portion of the trip as we head to Aix-en-Provence.

Additional photos below
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27th April 2019

Aix is where my DIL Kacy studied abroad for a semester. She recommends crepes at “the place under the road.” This means NOTHING to me, but hopefully it will mean something to you. I’m going to share your blogs on that part of the trip with her. I hope that’s okay. I know she loved it there (she was a French major, taking translation while she studied at the college in Aix but her true love is lighting and stage design).

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