For those looking for a dream place, a real escape from reality to immerse oneself in a fairy tale or a Robin Hood film, a visit to the citadel of Carcassonne is a must. Several films about Robin Hood were filmed within its walls. Carcassonne is the perfect place to go back in time and have the impression of being in a fortress in the Middle Ages. Just looking at the high towers one can imagine the flags waving from the top, one can almost catch a glimpse of the archers lining the battlements and the horsemen galloping between the walls.
Carcassonne withstood the siege of Charlemagne for five years and finally its inhabitants managed to rid his siege thanks to a stratagem of Madame Carcas, widow of the king of the city. Pretending they still have a lot of food reserves after five long years, Charlemagne decided to raise the siege and Madame Carcas rang the bells for joy. The story goes that turning Charlemagne said, "Carcas sonne" (Carcas rings) and hence its name.
Carcassonne today is a Unesco world heritage site, it was built on much older settlements, but was restored to its medieval splendor in 1849, the year it which its demolition was contemplated. The structure consists of 53 towers and a double wall where inside one finds many streets full of thousands of tourists who spend their time between the souvenir shops and those of handicrafts, cafes and bistros concentrated in a charming little square.
A typical local dish is the “Cassoulet” that was given to the troops already in the Middle Ages. It’s main ingredients are sausages, beans and duck or beef meat. Besides the beauty of the place, nature is blessed with even more patches of green with its vast vineyards that produce a very pleasant wine.
I went by chance to Carcassonne, I was invited by friends to spend a weekend in a small little castle not far from town, but I had never heard of Carcassonne before going there and its beauty really enchanted me, it was a wonderful surprise. I remember my trip to Carcassonne as a totally surreal weekend, I think the fact that my hosts had a very well stocked cellar certainly helped to create a magical aura. I hope to have the opportunity to go back soon, it was enchanting and unforgettable.