The other weekend we went to Carcassonne. It is a very nice town with TONS to do! We didn’t even get to do half of the stuff that we wanted to. It is sometimes challenging traveling with a 12-month old and a 3-year-old (which I probably have mentioned here before, sigh).
Anyway, the Cité de Carcassonne is a medieval fortified city. There is some super rich history at this place.
The Cité is the Middle Ages come to life. The castle was built by Saint Louis (Louis IX) and it was a barrier to invaders of all kinds.
The site has been occupied by people since the 3RD CENTURY BC! A century later, the Romans took over the site and it turned into a little town. The “ownership” changed hands many many times over the years until 1240 when the outer walls were built, thus making the entire town into the greatest fortress in Europe! No one ever wanted to even attempt to take over the castle because of the sheer magnitude of the fortress.
The top two pictures are from the outside of the castle. Notice the old moat around the castle. Plus, the huge dirt hill on the right. Imagine clamboring up a huge dirt hill with all this armor on, all while dodging arrows and hot oil being dumped on you.
Then, if, and IF you get up to the outer wall, you have to get PAST the outer wall and get into the inner wall!
The picture above is the area between the two walls. It is called Les Lices, the “lists”, where the villagers held tournaments and knights actually trained. If the attackers got to this point, they would have absolutely no protection from anything! They are in this open area, just waiting to be attacked.
It is so amazing how the builders of this castle thought of everything to discourage attackers. The approach to the castle comes up from the right, and most people are right handed, so the attackers on the way up would have to keep their shields in their right hand, making it really hard to do much of anything else.
There was also a winding path up to the castle, which would make it impossible to use a battering ram. How crazy is that? (As Brannan would say…)
And, once you got inside, there were other things waiting for the attackers. The stairs were purposely built in different heights, so when an attacker was running up the stairs, they would get all tripped up and fall when one would be higher or lower than the other. I just love the amazing history that just oozes from this castle. After growing up in Arizona, the land of everything built after 1930, it is really hard for me to even imagine buildings being so old.
But now, as with most villages here in the south of France, things have turned commercial. The entire inside of the village has turned into little shops and restaurants, save for the governor’s palace – that is now a museum and you can see and learn all about the history. Sadly, we just didn’t have enough time to see that.
There are some really cool features all around though.
We did, however, have lunch at one of the restaurants inside the castle.
We had some rose wine in an ice bag! Unconventional for France! Ice? Really? No one here likes ice. Especially really cold beverages. I do, however.
Brannan was extra-good because he was promised a sword of his choice if he behaved while we ate lunch.
Kinnerly was especially happy with my dessert! Simple vanilla ice cream, but I think it felt good for her little teething gums.
Please Daddy! Give me some!
But now it is all gone?!? No way! I want more!!!
On the way back to the car I noticed these amazing downspouts:
Seriously, there is nothing here that doesn’t amaze me. I feel very cliche with all this “amazing!” “old!” “ancient!” “history!” but, it really is such a wonderful stroke of luck to be here.
On the way back to the 15-room chateau that we stayed at, there were fields and fields of sunflowers. Too many to count. I guess they make sunflower oil with all the sunflowers. Not sure if they make sunflower seeds – would be a good offshoot, but I have yet to see sunflower seeds in the stores…
C’est tres jolie!