Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Carcassone to Villesequelande
We woke up to rain this morning. During breakfast – croissants and pastries this morning! – we discussed a change of plans because of the weather. We decided to postpone our (bus)trip to the citadel and castle to a later time in the morning.
We all took it easy and read or played with our devices. Then it cleared up and Ollie suggested to take the “petite” train to the citadel at 10am. That appealed to all of us and we walked to the square where we boarded the “tiny train” – a tourist train that goes through the inner city part and drops people of at the citadel. We enjoyed the ride even though it was cool – it is an open train.
We arrived at the citadel and Ollie suggested that we visit the citadel and castle first and after that the abbey. We walked through the narrow streets of the outer citadel which are lined with shops – souvenir shops and other specialty shops. The citadel is a walled city. There are 2 walls around it – the outside one was built a few centuries after the first one; they both served to defend themselves against the enemies which were plenty throughout the ages. We bought tickets to go into the “inner city” and castle. Armed with a personal electronic guide we walked through the rooms, the halls and ramparts connecting different parts of the castle. Some of the walls had wooden hoardings where the soldiers could defend the castle by dropping stones through the holes onto the enemy below. Every detail was focused on keeping the enemies out.
The views were fantastic. We could look over the town and see the mountains in the distance. We were told that on a clear day one can see the Pyrenees. At the entrance to the citadel was a restored statue of the Lady Carcas. Legend has it that she warned the city of danger with the word “Sona”. To honour her the city is called Carcassone. One period in time the Cathars lived in the citadel. They were a group of people that did not adhere to the Roman Catholic Church structure and didn’t pay taxes to the pope. The pope didn’t like it, declared the Cathars heretics, and in conjunction with the King of France, drove them from the citadel. They had to leave all their belongings behind. Lots of conquering and being conquered in the history of the citadel! Carcassone lost its strategic position for trade and commerce when the border between France and Spain changed. The citadel and castle fell into disrepair until in the 1800’s when Mr. Violette du Luc was commissioned with restoring it. He had a vision and did an enormous amount of research. It took 50 years to finish and Mr. de Luc did not live to see the end result.
The Abby was under reconstruction when we visited but one part was still open and we saw the beautiful stained glass windows in the sanctuary. Then it was time for lunch. We found a spot on a patio in the square and enjoyed our food. We took the bus back to the square in the present Bastille or inner city. Ollie bought some groceries, Brian wandered around and Eke and Jill had a cup of tea/coffee at one of the patios on the square.
Then it was time to leave Carcassone. It was quite windy but the sun was shining and we only had 4 locks to go through. One lock keeper was quite confrontative and told Ollie that he did it wrong. She also told Eke to tie the rope differently around the bollard. We remained pleasant yet held on to our position.
We tied up just outside the village of Villesequelande at about 5:30pm. Ollie wanted to rest, Jill went for a bike ride and we walked into the village to find ice cream! We had trouble finding the grocery store and then discovered that it was closed! Quite the disappointment! Back on the boat we had something to drink and everyone pitched in to make dinner. Ollie barbequed chicken, Jill did the potatoes and we made the salad. We ate on deck and enjoyed all the food, the evening weather and the company.
The end of another very enjoyable day!