Friday, April 30, 2010

France Day 7--Cathar Country and Carcassonne

Believe it or not, I am still determined to blog about every day in France. I have even been to Spain for a week since returning from France almost a year ago so I've got all of that trip to cover as well!

Today's breakfast was the first on our trip that did not include a croissant. I was really unhappy about this. Instead we had bread, grapefruit, tea and coffee. Simple, but the typical French breakfast.

After breakfast we went back to our room to get ready for the day. Chris was transferring some pictures off our memory card onto the computer when he accidentally deleted all our pictures from the first four days! He felt terrible and spent the next two hours trying to recover our photos while I accidentally took a nap:) I suggested downloading a recovery program to access our deleted pictures and it ended up being $40 well spent. It worked!

By this time it was nearly noon. We went south to drive to the Cathar chateaux we had missed the day before. We stopped at McDonalds to try something new for lunch. They didn't have the chicken selects so I ordered a cheeseburger and Chris had "Le M" which was a nice looking burger with a special bun. The fries tasted a bit different (not as good) and the ketchup was a bit sweeter (as are a lot of things here). After eating, we felt terrible. I realized that we had been eating all fresh ingredients since we were in France, and this processed stuff from McDonald's was not agreeing with our bodies. It was a real eye-opening experience for me.

We headed south toward the Spanish border toward Chateau de Queribus. The Cathars were a Christian religious sect in western Europe, but concentrated in southern France, in the 11th-13th centuries. They were eliminated in the Albigensian Crusade in 1209-1229.

The Cathar Chateau de Queribus

From France Day 7--Cathare country and Carcassonne




The drive up to the Chateau de Queribus was a 15% grade. We met this boxer, Bella, on the way

From France Day 7--Cathare country and Carcassonne




We didn't get out of the car to explore the Chateau de Queribus because we wanted to see another chateau in the area. The Chateau de Peyrepertuse was on the very top of the spine of a mountain with steep cliffs on either side. We paid 14 Euros to hike up to the chateau and use an audio guide. As we were hiking up we saw a couple with their dog, a Great Pyrenees! It was ironic because we were IN the Pyrenees. I thought that was pretty cool. The hike up to the chateau was very steep and it was raining so that made it even more treacherous.

From France Day 7--Cathare country and Carcassonne




From France Day 7--Cathare country and Carcassonne




From France Day 7--Cathare country and Carcassonne




From France Day 7--Cathare country and Carcassonne




These are pink marble steps cut out of the mountain that connected the lower half of the chateau with the upper half. These were extremely slippery in the rain! I wondered how this chateau was built being so steep that supposedly mules could not even climb it. I later found out that the chateau was actually built into the mountain. Stones were cut out of the mountain and then used to build it! I thought that was fascinating!

From France Day 7--Cathare country and Carcassonne





From France Day 7--Cathare country and Carcassonne




This is the view from the top of the chateau looking down. You can see that it really is on the very spine of the mountain!

From France Day 7--Cathare country and Carcassonne



As we left the Chateau we drove through one of our favorite parts of France, the Corbieres Hills. This was one of the least densely populated areas of France. Unfortunately I don't have any great pictures of the area because it started raining pretty hard.

We made our way up to Carcassonne which is the third most visited site in France after the Eiffel Tower and Mont St. Michel. We did not plan to go there and we were also told by Bruno, the owner of our B&B, not to bother because it is a rebuilt city--not an original--and overrun with tourist. Well, we were literally going to be driving right by there and we had time, so we stopped.

Bruno was right. The city was like a perfect remake of an ancient city. Not authentic at all. We stayed for 10 minutes. Why do people flock here? Just because something is in a book doesn't mean it is something to be seen. In fact, I recommend going places that aren't mentioned in books!



From France Day 7--Cathar country and Carcassonne




From France Day 7--Cathar country and Carcassonne



Chris and I stopped in the city of Narbonne for dinner.


From France Day 7--Cathar country and Carcassonne




I had heard about a restaurant there that had great creme brulee. By the time we got to the restaurant it was pretty late so there weren't many people there. We ate our meal and when it came time for dessert the waitress fired up the grill. I thought this was odd because there was no one left in the restaurant and surely no one else was coming in. After a while she brought out my creme brulee to the grill and scooped up a bunch of ashes and dumped it on top! I did not understand what she was doing at all. She dusted off most of the ashes and then served it to me. I took a bite and I have to say, it was one of the nastiest things I've ever tasted. It was like I was eating a campfire. I couldn't even fake it. I felt so bad for not eating the food so I gave it to Chris so he could make a dent in it (this was a common occurrence in France) and he couldn't even eat it either. I never understood why this place was famous for their creme brulee!!

To see all of our pictures from day 7 click here

1 comment:

Brian said...

You really got some great photos of the chateau at Peyrepertuse. I followed that same route after visiting Collioure and wrote about it on HubPages. I called it 'A Fantastic day out in the South of France', because it really was. Your photos are better though, we didn't have time to climb up but now I have seen your photographs, it is back on the agenda.