Day 5, Part 1 (yes, I am amusing myself terribly by breaking each day into two parts.)
The next morning we went trotting downstairs for breakfast.
When we’d been peering out the hall window at the cathedral I could see part of a sitting garden and had wondered where it was and if we could visit it. Turns out it was the hotel’s. The breakfast buffet was set up inside a long room and then you could sit out in the garden. There were scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage, in addition to cereal and bread products. There was also a machine that looked like a deep fryer, only it was full of water. Next to it was a bowl of eggs with a sign that said something along the lines of “These eggs are crude. We invite you to cook them to your liking.” I found it very amusing that it said “crude” instead of “raw.”
All Around the Town
After breakfast we went into the city to explore, heading for the Citadel. There was already a line building, but we were not deterred. It was E8 a head to get in, but Hubby remembered a card he was given in his program that gave him free access to national monuments or museums. It worked!
The Citadel was cool. Sure, it was just plain stone rather than all decorated like Versailles was, but it was still neat to see. You could roam around most of it. We didn’t get the guided tour, but there were plaques explaining things throughout.
We had fun peering over the walls, out the windows, and through the arrow notches. Then we figured out how to get out on the ramparts. The city has a double wall. We’d been walking along the exterior wall the previous night.
At that time a Canadian couple asked us to take their pictures. Hubby was a little behind me so I told them they should wait for him. I said I would end up cutting off their heads or something. Of course I asked them to take our picture as well.
When Hubby caught up the "Where are you from?" conversation commenced.
Hubby said we were from Connecticut.
Then the Canadian guy said, "But your wife is from Down South, right?"
That amused us enormously.
Hubby replied, "Well, actually she's from New Jersey."
But I guess everything is Down South to a Canadian.
This morning we were walking along the interior wall. It took us all the way back to the main gate that enters the city. That was good because it was getting on to noon and we knew it would take a while to double back along the wall. From the gate we were able to cut straight up to the hotel.
While we were walking along the ramparts we could see into many little gardens. Some of them seemed to be the backs of cafes, but some sure looked like private yards. I mean, we even saw someone’s laundry hanging out to dry. I thought it would be rather cool to live in a place like that, even it if it probably was close quarters. The shuttle driver who drove us out confirmed that a few people could live inside the walls, but they usually had a business inside.
Since we were cutting through town we passed many of the little shops. I’m sure they were all tourist traps, but they were intriguing anyway. We only went in two shops, well three. One had perfumes and handmade looking soaps. My mom had asked for a bottle of perfume that she wouldn’t be able to buy in The States. This place had potential. There was a name brand that Hubby said was widely available throughout France that the women in his program when ga-ga over. So I thought that wouldn’t do. Then I found a wall of bottles that said, “Souvenir of Carcassonne.” Many of the scents were available anywhere—rose, vanilla, violet—but that actual version was unique. I chose one named “My love” because it was flowery, as mom had requested. I also got myself a cube of lavender soap and one of amber.
The store next door was a cookie and candy store. Customers got one free cookie, which was nice. The center front was an oval display with many different flavor cookies. You got a bag and made your selections, which were priced by the pound. Well, gram or something I suppose. We selected just about one of each, unless we were sure it was a flavor we didn’t like.
My eye was also caught by a tea towel in another store that had a map of Carcassonne on it. But by then we had to book back to the hotel and check out. While we were waiting for the shuttle I told Hubby I really wanted the towel. I had noticed it was the same price as the wine one I bought in Pauillac, so I figured the price was reasonable. I went dashing back to the store, snagged it, and dashed back just as the shuttle arrived.
Back on the Road
We bid a fond farewell to Carcassonne. Our next stop was Lyon. We jumped on the A61 and headed along the Mediterranean. We weren’t able to go to the sea, though, because we didn’t have time and didn’t want to get lost.
We have toll tickets for Carcassonne-E to Montpellier-2 for E11.70. Then Montpellier-1 to Remoulins for E4.80
We figured we’d stop in Avignon for lunch. Hubby also wanted to see the Papal Palace where exiled popes lived in the 1300s. The Fodor’s made it sound like a charming town. We thought we would find sandwiches and eat in a park overlooking the palace.
We could not have been more wrong.
Avignon was another walled town. It was also severely lacking in parking. There were parking lots outside the walls that appeared full. This should have been a warning to us, but we plunged in anyway.
There was some kind of street fair going on, so as soon as we turned into the city we encountered a detour. As far as I could tell it was a giant flea market. There were cars and people everywhere. It was chaos! We drove in circles once or twice looking desperately for parking and trying not to run anyone over. On our second or third pass we managed to follow signs for a parking lot, but it was full. By then we were flipping out. We were hungry and had to use the bathroom, so we fled Avignon, casting some choice words over our shoulders.
We made our way to the A7 to continue to Lyon. We have a toll ticket for Orange-Sud to Vienne for E15.50. We ended up stopping at a rest area for lunch. Have I mentioned their rest areas are like little convenience stores? They have packaged sandwiches cut in half to triangles. Some packs had a sandwich and a half (three triangles), which was plenty for us to share. Earlier in the trip we had picked up a bag of chicken and thyme flavored Lay’s potato chips.
We drove along, munching our sandwiches and chocolate bars, and told each other, “We’ll always have Carcassonne.”
To Be Continued...