There is more to Carcassonne that the walled, medieval city but you wouldn’t know it from this blog entry. Michael and I headed over to Carcassonne on Tuesday, shortly after the rest of our group departed Cruzy for Toulouse and a flight to Rome.
We hadn’t made it to Carcassonne on either of our two previous visits to this part of the world and that seemed to be a shame. Unfortunately, neither Michael nor I had slept well the night before and weren’t at our best. On the way, we stopped at the market in Olonzac for a quick look see and a couple of fresh veggie purchases. (There may have been a small pastry purchase as well but that will be between just me and my jeans.)
Natalie got us directly to the Porte Narbonnaise, which is the main entrance to the walled city. We parked in the parking lot located conveniently directly outside. Our Michelin guide tells us that the Porte Narbonnaise is the only entry “wide enough to admit carts.” Things must have changed since days of old because there were some cars within the walls and they sure didn’t fit through the Porte Narbonnaise. There must be a secret entrance known only to the 139 people who make up the resident population!
Just outside of the Porte Narbonnaise is a bas relief of a woman of undoubted, but unknown to me, historical significance. Her significance to me is that I am certain she was a breast cancer survivor. How do I come to this conclusion? Just look at her photo. She could be my mirror image with her lopsided boobs . . . okay, okay, TMI, I get it. I’m just saying . . .
It is a lovely area in which to wander, which is exactly what we did. We spent quite a bit of time in the Basilica St. Nazare. Our guidebook tells us that its stained glass windows, from the 13th and 14th centuries, are considered the most impressive in southern France. Well, I probably know more about how Lifesavers are made than I know about stained glass but I must say that the colors in those windows were much prettier than those in the five flavor roll of Lifesavers, which I have always considered to be striking. The other thing I loved about the basilica was that the sign outside the entry told us that the basilica had always been an edifice of the “catholic cult.” I don’t think you would see the term “cult” used in that way in the states.
By the time we had finished our explorations of the walled city, our store of energy was completely depleted and we headed back to Cruzy rather than over the river and into the more recent and more vibrant Carcassonne. Oh, well, it’s important to leave something undone for future trips.