Helen in Europe travel blog

Suz, the send-off drink from Lapradelle

our wonderful neighbours Jean-Jacques and Dominique, who is a great artist

Annie and Carol settling in with Jean-Jacques and Dominique

view of the Rhone

before the rain on the Rhone

Château Comtal, a 12th-century castle within the Cité of Carcassonne

possibly Roman bricks within the Château Comtal

gardens within Château Comtal

view of the city from Château Comtal

view of Carcassonne from the Château Comtal

cemetery adjacent to Château Comtal

family plot?

coffee in Carcassonne

the Rhone in Arles, across from our apartment

It was with a mixture of sadness and anticipation with which we bade farewell to Lapradelle. The day before included another 'quick' visit to see Jean-Jacques and Dominique who live literally around the corner and with their insistence, we drank Suz and Muscat aperitifs before we departed and they headed off for their own dinner invitation. Things really hot up in Lapradelle on Friday nights and that includes a mobile pizza van on the corner and at least five patrons braving the local pub. After viewing the state of the floor and slightly dodgy barman we decided to continue with our theme of drinking Rhone reds in our own Lapradelle homestay, two doors back. We did sample the pizza though,so we can now say that we ate out in Lapradelle (well if you count walking ten steps to the takeaway van that is).

On the way, we detoured to the the famous Carcasonne castle La Cité. Unlike our neighbourhood Lapradelle Chateau, others had ideas about visiting this castle and inside the gates to the castle it was full of tourist shops and cafes.

Still worth a visit however, the castle is again, very old, with the first walls built in Gallo-Roman times, with major additions made in the 13th and 14th centuries. Château Comtal, a 12th-century castle within the Cité, offers archaeological exhibits and a tour of the inner ramparts. Whilst walking back to our car, we passed as sun tanned, Adonis like man; 'That man looks like Steve Bracks' Carol cheekily mentioned, audibly enough to be heard by the couple that passed him who said 'It is Steve Bracks!'. It was a strange fan moment as he turned around and we gave the acknowledgement sort of wave, you know when you don't quite want to come across as a groupie but hey, who expected to see Steve Bracks and his partner and friends touring Carcasonne! Beautiful details of bricks and tiles abounded in the Château but I was interestingly intrigued in the internal gardens and how people actually try to maintain normal lives - living within a castle with tourists peeking into their gardens from above (as I did).

The roads were getting wider and Annie's driving skills and confidence were increasing as we approached Arles, which is somewhat larger than Lapradelle. Amazingly we found a park right outside our airbnb apartment and left the car there the whole time thinking we'd hit the parking jackpot. Almost every other car in the street sported scrapes and dents and as ours was a hire car, we decided not to risk this. For the next two nights we were about to soak up the beautiful ambience of Arles, including the medieval streets, delightful museums and great views of the Rhone, as evidenced by the photos uploaded.

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