One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France must be the medieval fortress of Carcassone. Carcassone is a double-walled, nearly impregnable fortress, founded by the Visigoths in the Golden Age. First signs of settlement in this area date back to 3500 B.C.
Legend has it that in 760 Pepin the Short took southern France from the Saracens. Except Carcassone which he could not breach. Pepin assumed the people of Carcassone would eventually starve and surrender. However, Dame Carcas had another plan. She fattened up their last pig and had it thrown over the city’s ramparts.
Pepin and his army believed that if the inhabitants could waste such an animal, they must be well-stocked and ready to fight for a long time. Eventually Pepin and his army retreated. Dame Carcas rang all the bells in the city in celebration. She had saved the city from invasion. And hence the name “Carcas sone” was born: Dame “Carcas rings” the bells.
In 1853 Carcassone was restored under the guidance of architect Eugene Viollet le Duc. It attracts millions of visitors each year. We visited mid-week and the crowds weren’t too bad inside the walled city. Outside, however, on the cobblestone streets, it felt a little bit like Disneyland. Lots of souvenir shops with kitschy gifts. If you can get beyond that aspect, Carcassone is a curious place to visit.
In part one of this post, I’ll share mostly exterior shots.
As you enter Carcassone, you’re greeted by this rather large sculpture of Dame Carcas.
Horse carriage tour. Love the hats. Very chic.
Carcassone on approach
Love this sign near the ticket window. I’m sure this is a necessary reminder on really busy days.
Inner walls and covered walkway
As we walked through parts of the fortress, Eric looked up and noticed these dead birds. Netting had been suspended in various areas to keep the birds from flying down off the rafters. Apparently some of the birds fell or got stuck in the netting and were left to die. Feeling medieval yet?
View of the city from the fortress
Narrow window view
I hear strains of J. Geils when I see the shot below.
“Hey Reputah, Hey Reputah the Beautah, flip me down your hair and let me climb up to the ladder of your love….”
Just what is a whoober-goober anyways?
Can you name the J. Geils song I’m referring to?
Until my next post,
August 11, 2011 at 9:08 pm
Thank you for the interesting tour!
As for the J. Geils song, the only one I can think of right now is “Love Stinks”
August 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm
Hi Shelley, I’m glad you enjoyed part one of the tour of Carcassone. Here’s another hint on the J. Geils song: The words I quoted are part of an introduction to the specific song and it is a live recording.
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August 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm
“Musta Got Lost” (I cheated though, I’m not sure that I’ve heard this intro before)
August 14, 2011 at 8:25 am
Carcassone looks cool! The J. Geils song is Must Have Got Lost, and the correct spelling might be “whooba-gooba” since they’re a Boston band 🙂
August 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm
Hi Rich, good to hear from you. I think you’d enjoy Carassone.
Yep, you & Shelley are both correct. The J. Geils song is Must Have Got Lost. I love the Boston appropriate spelling for whooba-gooba.
Bonus question: Who was Peter Wolf once married to?
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August 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm
Peter Wolf was once married to Faye Dunaway. (Yep, I’ve lived here for a long time!)
August 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm
Correct! Always thought that was a curious pairing. Could be why it didn’t last (among other things I’m sure.)