Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saturday Snapshot: les remparts de Carcassonne

This is one of my favorite photos from my year in France, despite the fact that it was taken with my very first digital camera, a clunky, low-megapixel, high-battery consumption HP that some of my friends not-so-fondly dubbed "the brick." It was taken when my parents came to visit for my birthday and we drove around southwestern France playing tourist for a few days.

I'd been to Carcassonne several years before but on a gray, dreary day that did nothing to enliven the walled city's ubiquitous stone. This time, however, we had spectacular weather. It was mid-February, but the daytime temperatures hovered around 10 degrees (low 50s, Fahrenheit). And just look at that sky!

Inside the walls, Carcassonne is fairly kitschy, although the tours are excellent and give an interesting history, along with views like this one from the battlements. And despite the plethora of swords and other souvenirs you don't need, being able to walk through a fully restored, fortified medieval city is a neat experience, especially when you consider that the area has been continuously settled since 3500 B.C.E. That's a lot of history under your feet!

We enjoyed soaking up the rare February sun while walking the nearly two miles of battlements - and caved to some of the lovely Proven├žal fabrics in one of the many gift shops. All in all, a city (and cultural UNESCO World Heritage site) worth visiting, if you get the chance.

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