Saturday, 8 September 2012

Crusade to Carcassonne

Bonjour, James here. Thought it was about time I had another go at writing a Blog.

I have started going to the Gym in the mornings to try combat the effects of all that great French food.  This morning I was joined by Jasper. It was great to have some company, but he would only last 30 sec before he got bored of that machine and wanted to try the next one. Luckily we were the only ones there, but it was hard to get a bit of a sweat on, stopping all the time. That was until he wanted to try the treadmill - this was my chance! "What you want to do, is try one of the programmes on the machine....say for 15mins!"  I suggested. It may be wrong to take advantage of his gullible youth, but I wanted to get a work out too.
So there he was on the treadmil, while I was beside him on the Exercycle. His programme started easy enough  but I had to try not to laugh out loud as the machine speed up and his little legs were flying with his eyes wide. To his credit he hung in there for the full 15mins and was ready to go home.

Today we traveled to Carassonne which has a well restored fairy-tale city in the middle of it. We decided to go on an adventure to get there taking in some of the sites off the beaten track. I loaded all the places we wanted to go into the GPS - it asked me if I was sure about this? Didn't I want to go the quickest route? (Yes even the GPS questions my requests - even though I have changed the voice to Ken the Australian, I think it must be Female!!) I gently promised the GPS that we would go the quickest route on the way back, which she accepted.

So our first stop was a village called Castelnaudary. We do not have a guide book! Google is all very well, but you can't take it with you (easily). We thought that this village must have a castle, but we did not see one. It was lovely though, and Jasper and I went into a little old Peugeot bike shop while the girls went to the bakery. We had morning tea down by the canal.

Back on the road and we weren't too sure about the route that the GPS was taking us, I thought that she may be getting me back for daring to suggest an alternative route. Rach thought that we should find an easier, not so turny route, I was caught in the middle, not wanting to upset either of them, but as the GPS had the power to get us lost, I decided to go with her. It paid off as we were soon making our way though the gorgeous, village of Saissac, with the main street following the ridge and the rest of village seemed to tumble down into the valley  below.

On we wound though the beautiful country side, we could only imagine what it would have looked like if the fields of sunflowers were still in bloom. Eventually we arrive at the village of Lastours, which had a number of old castles in various states of ruin.  It was a good climb up, but at least we got to pay for the privilege. The lady behind the counter looked at us and said that it took two hours. We felt very under prepared in our jandles as we saw the hikers coming down in their tramping gear. It wasn't that bad. We decided to split up, Rachel suggesting that I take Jasper on ahead. Jasper had obviously recovered from this mornings Gym session, as he bounded up, talking none-stop about how we were knights of the Crusade, attacking these baddies in the castles.

From our vantage point high up on top of one of the castles, Jasper and I proudly surveyed the destruction that we had caused by conquering the baddies and taking over the castles. 

We spotted a Queen and Princess in the distance, who were obviously impressed by our efforts.

Back down we went ready to get stuck into the Birthday lunch that we had promised Jasper. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, they had stopped serving food. We had a couple of drinks and made our way to Carcassonne. 

Rach spotted the Castle sticking proudly out of the surrounding city. It looked like something off a movie set. As we got into the city we couldn't find the way up to the old City. So once again we gently asked the GPS, and she was like, "Oh so you need my help now?" She helped us alright, took us through the narrowest streets she could find, I was driving in the gutter just to avoid the parked cars. I don't know how she did it, but the GPS also managed to get us into the middle of a wedding party who were obviously not expecting any vehicle to be coming down such a narrow street. Eventually we did find a carpark out side the old city, and it was even more impressive close up. Jasper said "Peter Jackson should use this in the Hobbit movie!"

Found this Princess out side the castle.
By this stage we were staving so, we were on the hunt for some food. Being touristy, there were plenty of places to choose from. We ended up having a good feed of Pomme Frites, salad, Pizza and I shared my Magret de Canard with the girls, not telling them that it was duck until they had told me how nice it was.

We explored the rest of this beautiful old city for another hour or so, but there was still more to see which we have left until we come back...hopefully showing some Family or Friends around.

As promised, we drove home using the most direct route, which was on the Toll roads which allowed us to cruise along at 130kph. Once home, we got in our togs and jumped into the pool to cool down as it was about 32C.


  1. So funny, a great account of your day, such a challenge - poor Jasper and poor gps Ken?? Lovely skyping you today you all looked happy and relaxed. Love you guys.

  2. What a great adventure! We didn't make it to Caracasonne yet, but will definitely try for it one day. There are so many great ancient cities - we are spoiled for choice. If you can convince them to give duck another go try confit de canard. Don't be put off by the fact it's tinned meat. Easy and delicious. Luuk made it for dinner one night so he's the one to ask for tips :)