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May 16th 2015
Published: May 18th 2015
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I forgot to mention that just after we reached the A9 yesterday afternoon Bernie had an 'Oh no, I left the iPad on the floor beside the bed this morning' moment. Really??!! The more he thought about it the more convinced he was that he just could not remember packing it. I suggested that we pull over to check, but Bernie wanted to get us to the B&B in Béziers before it got any later and then worry about driving back to Avignon for the iPad if necessary. Of course that meant that we both spent the whole trip envisioning a drive back to Avignon. As soon as we pulled up at the B&B Bernie looked for the iPad ... which had been safely packed this morning. All that stress for nothing!

We slept well and woke up feeling fine this morning despite all the alcohol consumed last night. We had another great shower this morning - we have had a run of walk-in showers which have been nice and roomy. We headed down for breakfast and Whoa! we thought that Nicole had plied us with food last night, but when she started bringing out breakfast we realised that she had only been warming up last night. We ended up with a table positively groaning under the weight of food upon it. We usually breakfast pretty modestly so these sumptuous breakfasts are a bit overwhelming. We managed to get through a plate of fruit, glasses of strawberries with yoghurt (possibly creme fraiche? more like dessert again for breakfast!) and crepes. I also managed a piece of baguette with cheese and tomato while Bernie sampled the blue cheese ... for breakfast.

So, another day of sightseeing and another walled city to visit! This morning we set off for Carcassonne which in 1997 was listed as another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the south of France. The site of the city has been occupied since around the 6th century BC and over the millennia it has been the home of Visigoth, Sarecen and Frankish occupants. The city was extensively restored in the 19th century by the architect Viollet-le-Duc who chose to restore the city to its mediaeval appearance. We entered the city through the twin towers of the Porte Narbonnaise and made our way through the city to the Château where we purchased our tickets to explore the Château and the stonework museum and walk the northern ramparts.

There was a strong wind blowing today and out on the ramparts I was wishing for a hair tie to tie back my hair because I could hardly see a thing with my hair blowing all around my face! The northern ramparts walk extended as far as the Porte Narbonnaise where we entered this morning ... and then we had to turn around and walk all the way back to the Château. The Château is undergoing some improvements at the moment which, unfortunately, includes the toilets being remodelled. In the meantime they have port-a-loos which were very nasty. Ugh!

We ended up having a sit down lunch - just to escape the wind for a while as much as anything. I ordered the croque-monsieur and thought that I pronounced it reasonably well. The crêpe sucre? No, the croque-monsieur, which resulted in a blank look so I had to resort to pointing at the board where croque-monsieur was written. Ah, croque-monsieur. To my ear it didn't sound any different when she said it than when I said it, but obviously my French accent is rubbish??!

Back out into the wind and we found our way down to the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire considered to be the jewel in the crown of this mediaeval city. The church combines Roman and Gothic architecture and has the finest stained glass in the south of France. Bernie thought it was the best stained glass we have seen since the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.

On our way back to the car we explored the 'tilt yard' a space between the two ramparts that was levelled out in the 13th century when the second wall was raised. During the 17th and 18th centuries this area housed the poorest residents of Carcassonne, but they were evicted to make way for Viollet le Duc's restoration works in the 19th century.

The walled city of Carcossonne is so extensive that it is difficult to take a photo that fits it all in. We knew it was possible though, because we had seen postcards that showed panoramic images of the entire wall. From the eastern ramparts we thought we spied some higher ground from which we could take a wide shot of the city walls. Once outside we walked around past the cemetery and then continued along the road and around a corner where we spotted someone else going for the wide shot! He was parked on the edge of the local vineyard, but we decided to go one better and we rather bravely walked through the middle of the vineyard to gain a bit more elevation. We managed to take a few wide shots of the city walls without being chased out of the vineyard by the owner.

By this stage we were sick of the wind and feeling a bit cold so we drove straight back to Béziers without looking for any more sights. The map showed that there were a couple of abbeys and a cathedral that we could have stopped at, but you have to draw the line somewhere!

Steps for the day 13,365 ( 9.1 km)

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


19th May 2015

nice wide shot
Love the wide shot, having been there we can appreciate the degree of difficulty in getting so much of the walls in. Well done! Loved this old city. It was a very warm day when we visited so a different experience. I am not at all keen on windy days, must have been tricky walking the wall.
19th May 2015

You need a 'drone'.
Met a guy on Frankston beach yesterday who was playing with his 'drone'. Turns out he is a professional photographer who also takes aerial photos of properties for real estate agents. His aerial photos of the peninsula were AMAZING. The drone can be operated for up to 3 kms and goes very high to take those amazing photos. Bernie you'll just have to get one BUT I'm not sure you'd be able to take it with you o/s. Great 'boy's toy' - and I could even see myself having lots of fun with it! For instance, instead of 'invading' the vineyard you could have just sent the drone aloft to get the photos for you - no hassle!! But 'sans' drone Bernie you photos are really wonderful; and so sharp. I think you're getting better and better as a photographer every time you go away. Keep up the wonderful photos and dialogue. Caroline

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