Monday, August 10, 2009

Trip to France Day 4: Pauillac-Carcassonne II

Day 4 Part 2.
Carcassone viewWe took the A62 out of Bordeaux to Carcassonne.

Let’s see, we’ve got toll receipts for St. Selve to Toulouse Nord for E 17.30. Then Toulouse S to Carcassonne for E 8.

Along this southern part was where we encountered the most consistent traffic on the highways. For most of the trip, we only really encountered traffic right around the cities.

Driving By
The country side was starting to get a little more hilly at this point. We were supposed to be able to see the Pyrenees in the distance, but the weather was pretty the hazy the whole time.

Carcassonne is a medieval walled city. The first part of the walls was originally built by the Romans. The wall and city were expanded on over the years. Hubby made sure we were in a hotel in the old part of the city, La Cite, which is inside the walls. This allowed us to take our car inside with us.

Approaching the city was kind of wild because the directions from the hotel said to take exit 24, which shot us beyond the city. We had to double back, but we were able to navigate by the road signs. If we didn’t have the directions, I probably would have said to get off at exit 23, judging by the road map, and who knows what would have happened then. Of course, this all meant we could see it, but then drove by it, which was a little confusing.

Popular Place
It was a mad house up by the old city section. There are three parking lots around it and people walking everywhere heading inside. We’d had Dany call head for us and they told her we should park in lot 3. To which we responded, "We hope we can find lot 3!" It took a while to find it as it was off the main road, beyond a cool old cemetery, tucked in a corner of the walls. Of course the catawampus road signs did not aid us very well in this endeavor. On the bright side we saw a good amount of the exterior walls.

Once we found it we were a little surprised to see a sign indicating it was full. Still, we identified ourselves as having hotel reservations. A guy got in another car and led the way for us. This was a very good thing as the roads were barely wide enough to fit the car! People had to squish against the walls or step into shop doors to make room for us. The lead car cleared the road and Hubby made sure to stay right on his tail.

The porter drove our car away after we unloaded our suitcases. The desk clerk explained that the car had to be out of the city by 10 am, but check out wasn’t until noon. So the next morning they drove car out and then had a little mini-van to take us to it when we were ready. There was a fee for parking, E 14 I think, but not for the shuttle, although Hubby did tip him.

We were in the Best Western Hotel Le Donjon. The lobby was all dark wood and tile. The staircases were all at multiple levels and I’m pretty sure I even saw one that when up on one side, down the other, and had another up level going off the side. Making it a tri-directional staircase. ::blink::

Our room was plain and serviceable. I think it’s one of the only rooms we had that had a little coffee pot. There was a mini-bar/fridge, which we had in several rooms. It also had air conditioning, which we totally needed because it was fairly hot and humid in this region.

Actually, the only thing I didn’t like about the room was that we had two twin beds pushed together. Separate sheets, blankets, and all. Grrr. But we could see the citadel from our room and we could see the cathedral from the window in the hall, which was pretty cool.

Wine! We tasted wine!
Cave in CarcassoneCarcassonne is in the Languedoc wine region. Through the hotel Hubby was able to set up a wine tasting with a Cave across the street. A woman and a man took turns pouring, and explaining the wine and producer. All the wines were yummy, but Hubby didn't end up buying any.

There were five wines, I believe, starting with a glass of champagne. Then a white and three reds. Or was it six wines, with three whites (including the champagne) and three reds? I don’t remember rightly, as it had been a while since lunch and the first two wines threw me for a loop. Wheeee! Hubby tried to help me out, but said I was going to put him under the table. He found it very amusing that I got so silly so quickly. But we didn’t have to drive anywhere else, so it was ok. Usually Hubby does tastings alone and I’m the designated driver. So it was nice to participate, but obviously I'm a light-weight.

Take that Canard!
After the tasting we went across the street diagonally and had dinner in the Le Donjon restaurant. It was kind of modern inside and the radio was playing all English music. This was amusing, at times, as the curse words weren’t edited out. snicker.

We had pre-paid for dinner through the hotel, so we selected from a price fix menu.

For starters I had salad with goat cheese and Hubby had fois gras, both of which were tasty. My entrée was duck confit with lovely little disks of fried potatoes with garlic. If I had a green, I don’t remember what it was. Hubby had a canard cassoulet, which was a little clay pot with white beans, chunks of duck, and sausage. It was all very well prepared. My duck just fell off the bone. It was also very flavorful. I took my first bite and exclaimed, “Oh, this is so good!" and started gobbeling it down. (I might have still been a little tipsy.)

(Here is a link to a random cooking blog I just found explaining what a cassoulet is. She even mentions Carcassonne!)

We ended up swapping plates halfway through. When we switched back I still had quite a pile of potatoes left and a good amount of duck. I keep a little plastic bag in my purse at all times in case I get a migraine (and the unfortunate side-effects of such). I slipped it out of my purse and loaded it up with my leftovers as subtly as possible. Hubby was my look-out and let me know when people were walking by so I could stop and look innocent. We had to take this extreme measure since doggy bags are not the norm.

For dessert Hubby had vanilla crème brulee and I had a chocolate lava cake. Are you noticing a trend with the crème brulee? Yeah, it’s one of our favorite desserts. And what better country in which to eat it? Of course, Hubby had coffee and I had chamomile tea. I couldn’t figure out how to order decaffeinated black tea, so I just started ordering chamomile.

The town had been pretty crowded with tourists when we first arrived, but by the time we were done dinner the place had cleared out. There were some people wandering around, but mostly it was quite. The walls in the hotel seemed a little thin, but it wasn’t too noise and we were able to fall asleep ok. Well, aside from that twin bed nonsense preventing snuggles!

1 comment:

  1. They sure do serve a lot of duck in France! Is it a main staple?? Question - is duck all dark meat like a goose? Or is it white and dark like chicken and/or turkey? I'm just wondering since I seem to have a few ducks around that might not make it to the winter..... just sayin! :)