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Carcassonne Medieval Castle

October 23, 2006

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As we drove further south to our last stop in France, we were all wowed by the sight of the lit up castle from our camper windows as we arrived and drove along the road to our campsite. A very impressive medieval castle indeed,at least from this angle welcoming us at night. Certainly not something you see out your windshield in America, this almost 2500 year old sight. DaVinci and I have been to all the  Loire major castles and Versaille, so did not really need to see another castle in France. But this one is supposed to be good for children, so we went a bit out of our way to show Mozart this castle and a sense of life at that time. When we passed on Versaille on this trip, we added this possibility to our list. It is a coincidence that we were just reading about Charlemagne in the Story of the World and he has a history here.

We left late because I wanted to get the blog up about Provence before the fast run down to Andalucia, Spain. I don’t think I will post any more entries until we are settled in Spain. We went back to our familiar Pont du Gard campsite after visiting the Luberon as it seemed easier than Aix-en-Provence, was better situated for driving south and of course the wifi and our familiarity with the area. Out of our week in Provence we ended up spending six nights there. I had lots of photos  of  and thoughts about the Luberon area and I wanted to get some up on the blog while they were fresh in my memory.

We hate driving at night in foreign lands, but lately we seem to be doing lots of that. We vow to do better. There was some confusion getting to the campsite (small roads, dark, don’t know where you are going) but we eventually made it. Only we found it closed which is not the first mistake my books have made. They said it was open until Oct 31st,but they closed on the 15th. There were several campers outside the campground and we had already eaten dinner, so we just pulled in and went to bed (since we had no electricity and I was feeling quite bad with my turn at the cold/flu thing). Mozart had slept a lot on the ride so she was waaaay too perky, but eventually went to sleep.

We wanted to just do the castle quickly and head for Spain early. We knew we had to also fill up on gas and fill up on Propane before we left (it may be harder for us to find propane in Spain for our Netherlands equipment). Since I was not feeling well at all, DaVinci had the great idea of parking closer to the castle so it would be less of a walk.

Great idea, but not so great in reality. We went around and around on another thrill ride trying to find it and ending up in some very narrow streets. We got stuck at one point on a little rock bridge that was too low for us with lots of local car horns honking at us...fun. But we are getting more used to these adventures these days, so they do not throw us quite as much, tho they are nerve wracking. After more than an hour of this, we finally made our way to a spot that would work and pulled over. It was not an official spot,but worked really well as we were only a couple blocks away from one of the entrances.

I was not that thrilled with the castle, but perhaps it was because I just was not feeling well. I felt the best moment was when we first saw it in the dark and the rest seemed a bit anti-climatic,but perhaps I am just too jaded with castles at this point. I should be impressed by a site that has been occupied since the 6th century BC and rich in history, but at least Mozart enjoyed it and was enriched.

It was the most crowded place that we have been so far and that was a surprise this late in the season. I hate to see how  bad it is in high season. So a little too touristy for my tastes. Still we were glad we went and it does give one some hands on experience of what it was like to live like this in the middle ages. Nice for a six year old to actually stand on a real draw bridge etc so when she reads about it she has more understanding. We got some good books too for her to add to our collection about the middle ages. She especially liked the one about Charlamaigne and how this town got its name.

It is souvenir haven so Mozart got a king, queen, princess and prince and played with them for much of the drive to Spain. She also found a candy shop, so it was a great day for her. Thats good because we had a long drive ahead.

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