European Adventure 2011 - Day Four: Carcassonne

Posted by Amy O. , Wednesday, May 11, 2011 5:32 AM

On the morning of our fourth day, we woke up early, left behind the sufficient but noisy Formule 1, made our way via Metro (now experts) to Gare d'Austerlitz where we got our Eurail passes validated and took our first train ride of the trip!  We found our seat numbers and started to settle in when an older, very polite gentleman said we were in his & his wife's seats.  

It was then that we learned that one does not only have an assigned seat number, but also a car number.  OOPS.

So then we found our car number and our seat numbers and settled in. 

We had a stopover in Montpellier, long enough for lunch but sadly not long enough to dip our toes in the Mediterranean.  We did get up close & personal with some of the locals, however.

This guy was eyeballing our sandwiches something fierce.  (Note no zoom lens was used - he was this close to my head.)

Another short train ride took us to our destination: the beautiful medieval castle of Carcassonne, if not my favorite place in France, at least my favorite castle in France. I have had the privilege of showing many of my friends and family this castle, and I was SO excited to finally get to show Patrick.

My prince...

So it's possible that walking to the cité from the train station wasn't our best idea.  See, we had tried to pack light, but still had four bags -  and with books and laptops and a bottle of sherry for Dr. Moltmann, some of them were on the heavy side.  And Carcassonne, appropriate for a fortified city, is up on a hill.

A hill with cobblestone pathways leading up it.  Very steep cobblestone pathways.  And I'd gotten about 2 hours of sleep the night before because my brain wouldn't stop cycling through all the things we had to do to get on the train the next morning.  Let's just say, it was not our most fun half hour of the trip.

At last we made it to our hotel.  We booked a room at the Hotel Le Donjon, a Best Western inside the walls of the walled city.  Totally worth it at any price, I'd say, but even more worth it when you use your frequent flyer miles and don't pay anything for it :-).  Great service, lovely room, a bit small (just enough room for the bed) but charming, clean,  quiet, with a super comfortable bed and a big, private bathroom.  Another great thing was that they let us leave our bags there the next day after check out so that we could see more of the city since we still had four hours until our train.  The view from our window...

I spent the evening introducing Patrick to the city, and he loved it, just as I knew he would.

One of the Gallo-Roman towers (yep, it's that old)

Note the perfect weather.......

This door matched my shoes :-) Carcassonne.........

Cassoulet ~ a regional specialty ~ for dinner.  
It's a sort of white bean stew with sausage & duck
The waiter at this restaurant let me try out my French, though he was able to help us out in English.  When he brought us the bill at the end, he asked if we were on vacation, and I said yes and that we were from California.  California is one of the states that the French are familiar with; this was not entirely the case with Oregon - I always had to explain that it was above California and then they got it :-).  So, though I make it abundantly clear when I'm in California that I am from Oregon, on this trip, I have enjoyed the ease of saying that I'm from California.  

So of course the waiter's face lit up with recognition.  I handed him the credit card and - so funny - in his best Arnold accent, he said, "I'll be back."  We all busted up - a lovely international bonding moment :-).

1 Response to "European Adventure 2011 - Day Four: Carcassonne"

Emily Blair Says:

Mmmm...cassoulet. So good.

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