Monday, May 13, 2013

Carcassonne, France

We missed the first exit to the old walled city of Carcassonne, the exit that undoubtedly had places to stop to take panoramic photos of the fortress and castle, but we did get a glimpse of it as we were going to the second exit, which unfortunately didn't provide an open view of the site. Carcassonne is one of the many medieval fortress-cities in this part of France, and though we were running late in our east-and-southward journey to Provence, we took an hour to walk around the ramparts, and inside on the narrow cobblestoned streets between the shops that sell tourist souvenirs.

The history of Carcassonne goes back well before the Romans, but they were the ones who really started building the fortifications on the hilltop. It's now a UNESCO world heritage site and has been (is being) restored, and the walls are a mix of work done in various centuries. We didn't go into the castle area, as it was about to close and the entrance fees are rather steep. Plus we were running late. So we walked around the edges of the city outside the walls, looking out over the valley to the north and east, watching children clamber up onto the stone walls and hang out into the void, and discussing how interesting it was that there were no bars or barricades or even signs that you'd likely find at a similar site in the United States, if such existed, preventing people from putting themselves into the least bit of danger or, more likely, preventing endangered people from suing the site.

We could have spent more time there, but will have to instead find another walled fortress-city on a hill here in Provence to explore. It's hard to not find interesting things to see and do, surrounded by history as we are.

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