According to my friends, it’s very popular to travel over Easter weekend, since there are so many bank holidays surrounding the actual event. That’s how I got the opportunity to visit Carcasonne, France, with a group of friends. This, gentle reader, is definitely an advantage of living in Europe, because traveling to other countries is completely possible by plane, train, boat, or in our case, car. We rented a car that would seat seven people, and there were six of us plus a small family of luggage, this worked out perfectly.
I’m not totally sure what the reason was behind choosing Carcasonne as our destination, but whoever made the decision, I have to say it was a good one. The number of other Spaniards in Carcasonne was kind of funny, because we were hearing Spanish wherever we went, but there were elements of Carcasonne that were so very French! The food was good, the weather was decent, and overall event was extremely memorable. Carcasonne is in south France, and is topped by an impressive castle, reportedly the first castle to use hoarding strategies to overcome sieges… which probably means that they had lots of practice being under siege.
Carcasonne is a town that has its historical roots in neolithic times (and with more formal organization by at least 350 BC), and has been a fortified town with a military presence since at least 100 BC when the Romans thought it would be groovy to set up a fort there. When the Visigoths arrived, they decided to take the city over, and in the mid-400’s, the town was well on its way to becoming something important in France. Like many mediterranean cities, there was a procession of owners, typically the locals, then the Romans, then the Visigoths, then the Moors (and in Carcasonne, the Saracens from Barcelona, of all places!), then the locals under the guidance of the Roman Catholic church.
If you know your European history, this place seemed to be quite the fashionable place to try to control, with visits from Clovis, Pepin the Short, Theodoric II, Trencavel, Edward the Black Prince, Pope Urban II. Nowadays, it is a great tourist site with winemaking country and manufacturing facilities nearby as well. The Aude river, which runs through Carcasonne, adds to the local charm and beauty. There are many other castles and towns nearby, which make this a great place for a weekend getaway! The castle of Carcasonne is a charming tourist destination, containing many stores and restaurants that make visiting the more touristy parts of the town convenient and enjoyable.