Thursday, 18 October 2012

We're back in France and its STILL raining!

Day 156 26.09.12 Carcassonne

In the morning we headed to a different internet café to book ferry tickets back to the UK for 2nd October, giving us around a week to get up to Calais.  It’s likely to be quite a whistle-stop tour of a few of the major cities en route but we’re keen to get home to replace the laptops and get the window sorted (amongst many other Van Diesel fixes!).  

The one place I was particularly keen to visit was Carcassonne which happily is on the route back up to Calais and a decent enough distance away for us to maintain the momentum we need to get there on time!  We headed over to the supermarkets on the edge of town to fill up on food, drinks and petrol as they’re all cheaper in Spain than France and then got on our way. 

We arrived at an aire in Carcassonne which whilst not in the safest looking of areas, had plenty of other campervans and enough people around that we were satisfied we could leave Van Diesel and go exploring.  As soon as we reached the centre just a short five minute walk from the aire, the rain began to fall and get progressively heavier.  A warm welcome from France!

Despite the appalling weather, the charm of this historic location shone through.  It’s easy to see why the fortress is a UNESCO protected site.  Inside the fortress walls you find many tourist shops, fancy restaurants and small museums although thankfully it doesn’t seem as pushy on the tourist front as some of the other fortified towns we’ve visited – perhaps that’s just because of the rain though!  We visit the cathedral, tower and the main castle, although all only on the outside as the entrance charges are pretty steep.  We also take a walk up on the fortified walls for a better view over the town and the ville bass (aka lower city) were you find the majority of Carcassonne’s residents.  It truly is a very beautiful place. 

After a while the rain becomes too much so we head back to the van.  The aire has a water tap so we fill up the van and decide to test out our water heater that we had fixed in Portugal.  Sure enough the water is soon toasty warm and I dive in the shower to get washed up.  It’s the first hot shower I’ve had in about 4-5 months and its pure unadulterated bliss!  

Once I tear myself away from showery warmth I discover the rain has stopped and the sun has come out.  I decide whilst Chris is showering to go back into town and get some better pictures of this lovely place.  Bathed in the late afternoon Autumnal sunshine, Carcassonne is a joy to behold.  The views over the lower town with cute houses and dozens of red and orange trees are delightful.  Everywhere looks so beautiful in this light and I spend a good little while wandering around snapping away on the camera!

In the evening I make some notes on what we’ve been up to in order to make blog updates easier on our return and then we settle down for an evening film.  Whilst we both adore the sunny weather I must say it’s quite nice that tonight it’s cool enough to snuggle up under a duvet for the first time in a long while!

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