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The Roannais to Medieval Carcassonne! by Brian Franklin

The Roannais has an enviable central location in France which enables pretty reasonable, and easy access to many other parts of Europe – particularly  Southern and South West of France, Northern Spain, Pyrenees and the North Eastern coast, and Northern Italy, including the French and Italian Alps.

Excellent autoroute networks throughout the above regions make driving holidays very easy and convenient, and, of course, there are lots of interesting places to visit and stop-over for the night to break the journey.

On our route to Carcassonne you also get the chance to cross the absolutely breathtaking Pont Millau, the new suspension bridge designed by British architect, Norman Foster, and built by the same company which constructed the Eiffel Tower.  Successful Anglo-French co-operation at its very best !

So, from the Roannais in the Rhône-Alpes the beautiful Medieval city of Carcassonne is less than 4 hours drive away. The autoroute is excellent.

Our holiday voyage was part of  a 6-day break which we made enroute to the vibrant city of Barcelona, and which included a stop-over in Figueres to visit the brilliant Dali Theatre-Museum, and a day trip to Salavador Dali’s house in the old fishing village of Cadaqués. A great experience.

So more to come on all this in my next series of blogs.

Meanwhile, our first visit (it will not be our last !) to Carcassonne was absolute magic. The ancient fortified city and castle of Carcassonne is stunning. Luckily the normally huge numbers of tourists were at a minimum when we arrived, so we were able to walk around with ease, and take in all the medieval wonders. Full of traditional, old French character, and incredible buildings and architecture.

Carcassonne is a fortified French town in the Aude department of France.
It is separated into the fortified Cité de Carcassonne and the more expansive lower city, and main township. The folk etymology – involving a châtelaine named Carcas, a ruse ending a siege and the joyous ringing of bells (“Carcas sona”) – though memorialized in a neo-Gothic sculpture of Madame Carcas on a column near the Narbonne Gate, is of modern invention. The fortress, which was thoroughly restored in 1853 by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.

There is obviously so much about the ancient history of Carcassonne which is interesting, so if you google ‘Carcassonne’, you’ll be sure to find it !

We spent the whole day there, strolling around the narrow, medieval streets of the ancient city, visiting the amazing castle, and walking along its fortified ramparts with stunning panoramic views across the lower township and countryside.

Afterward we discovered a superb restaurant for lunch, with a table situated in dappled sunlight under ancient olive trees, set in medieval surroundings oozing age-old history. A perfect time. A beautiful place !

Next stop : Salvador Dali’s Country – His Theatre-Musée in Figueres, and his house in Cadaqués. So look out for our blog enroute to Barcelona !