When a gal always has her nose in a book, she tends to find a lot of unique places in the world to see. This whirlwind weekend trip started with a book called “Labyrinth” by Kate Mosse. I read the book in 2005 and immediately added Carcassonne to my “someday” list of places to go and see. I was fortunate to occasionally travel for work and was in England and the Netherlands in May of 2016 for a couple weeks. What did I do with an entire weekend to myself in Europe? I travelled to Carcassonne in France of course!
The highlight of my trip was spent on the terrace with a glass of wine, reading a book and admiring the view. This right here is bliss!
Getting to Carcassonne!
Unfortunately, I spent more time travelling than I actually did in Carcassonne. I had limited time and it took some planning skills to make this work and thankfully I love to plan!
I left work on Friday and flew with KLM from London to Paris to Toulouse. I spent the night in Toulouse at the Pullman Toulouse Centre and departed Toulouse early Saturday morning on the train to Carcassonne.
I arrived in Carcassonne to the smells and sounds of the morning hustle and bustle of the market as I walked from the train to the old city. What a treat it is to start your morning by selecting fresh fruit and veggies, meat and bread at a market!
Hôtel de la Cité Carcassonne
I splurged and stayed at the Hôtel de la Cité Carcassonne within the old city walls. I had a Superior Room with a view of the garden and ramparts. It had a king size bed, 269 sq ft and was 335 Euro for the night. It was perfect!
Cité de Carcassonne
Entering the fortified city of Carcassonne is stepping back in time to the medieval ages. Would I have been a peasant wife coming to the market to sell food from my garden? I walked into the Cité de Carcassonne daydreaming with my head in the clouds.
I spent most of Saturday and Sunday morning exploring the medieval city including the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus.
“Labyrinth” by Kate Mosse
Labyrinth is an archaeological mystery English-language novel written by Kate Mosse set both in the Middle Ages and present-day France. It was published in 2005.
It divides into two main storylines that follow two protagonists, Alaïs (from the year 1209) and Alice (in the year 2005). The two stories occur in a shared geography and intertwine. The novel relies heavily on historical events such as the massacre at Béziers and the Crusade against the Cathars in Occitania, now the South of France, from around 1200. The text itself features many Occitan and French quotes. Ultimately the story becomes a quest for the Holy Grail.
What I Missed
I missed seeing Carcassonne itself – the modern day Carcassonne. Other than a quick walk from the train to the old city and browsing the market on the way, I did not see Carcassonne. I was focused on the medieval city and with my limited time, did not stray further. A return trip would have more time for me to explore outside the old city walls.
- The Fortified City of Carcassonne (Official Website of France)
- Hôtel de la Cité Carcassonne
- Pullman Toulouse Centre
- Rail Europe
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