Day 8 — July 8, 1996 (Monday)
08.07.1996 - 09.07.1996
The cassoulet last night was incredible — possibly the best food I’ve ever had. Facilities forgiven! When Madame brought out the chubby round steaming hot casserole, we thought we were to take a portion each and the rest would go to others. As it turned out, the entire thing was just for the two of us. Needless to say, we couldn’t finish even half of it although it was so delicious that we tried heartily. She has a third place ribbon for her cassoulet on the wall so we wonder how delicious the first and second place winners were! It really warmed us up on a cold night.
It was cold and damp last night. I’m wearing a tee shirt under my sleep sweatsuit tonight. I now have a full-blown sore throat — the cold weather is no help. It is hard to believe this is July in southern France.
We went down to the Auberge (Auberge le Cathare in Belflou) this morning and wrote postcards in the warm dining room while we waited for breakfast . . . . rolls, bread, confiture (jam), coffee and hot chocolate. Finished breakfast and postcards, brushed teeth and headed for Carcassonne — a medieval fortress. Auberge Le Cathare web site [Tel: +33 (0)4 6860 3249; Fax: +33 (0)4 6860 3790; firstname.lastname@example.org]
Took D415 (a one-lane road) to D624 at Castelnaudary, home of cassoulet, where we ran into market day on the already-narrow streets. Somehow Ed navigated the streets and we found N113 to Carcassonne. Narrow streets and traffic there too, but we ended up at parking for La Cité — which is an incredible sight as you approach.
We parked and started toward the castle. Just as we arrived, the rain started again. We had forgotten our umbrellas so we waited under some trees by a carousel. When the rain stopped, we entered the magical medieval walled city. It’s a major tourist trap, but it’s okay because no amount of Disneyization can destroy well over 2000 years of history.
We walked all over the place — between the double castle walls, up and down towers, through the tiny crowded streets, and even down some deserted streets. We visited the church and took pictures of the rose windows and gave coins of the realm to a beggar who wasn’t having much luck at the church door. Bought great tee shirts for the kids; didn’t buy a neat little fountain for me — couldn’t figure out how to get it home. Oh well!
Stopped in a creperie for lunch. Again, okay but not great. The cook at our campground is much better. We left the Cité and drove south toward the Abbey at Saint-Hilaire and then back to Carcassonne via D104. I was looking for the perfect photo. Ed accidentally turned past a gendarmerie and we ended up in a little park across the River Aude from the castle. I took a few “perfect” photos and we headed home.
Looking forward to duck barbecue tonight. We ordered this morning. Madame Casanave, the lady who owns the auberge is very helpful. Our cassoulet last night had both duck and sausage with the beans and it was incredible.