Carcassonne, South France
There is a little town called Carcassonne, in South France. You can get there via domestic plane or a train. The nearest city is Toulouse. Carcassonne’s main star is its old medieval castle, unmissable as it is located on high ground with strong brown walls, and a whole medieval city built within it. Here is a simple itinerary of things you should not miss even if you only have a day in this gorgeous little French town.
9 am – 11 am:
Go to the Ville Basse, North West of the castle. It is the center of the town, with small intersecting lanes lined with shops selling various things. Have breakfast at La Rotonde, where you pay €8 for a breakfast of a basket of bread, croissants, FRENCH BUTTER, orange juice and a hot beverage of your choice (your choice should be café au lait, if you know what’s good for ya). Then take a walk around the shops. Things worth checking out would be the morning market, the pharmacies selling French beauty products and local perfumeries. There are also small, old churches in between the streets that are beautiful to behold.
11 am – 3 pm:
Slowly head towards the Medieval Cite, the large castle on top of the hill. You will pass a beautiful French village on your way to the large fort. Within it you will find a whole other world of medieval city, with crooked paved lanes going in circles, small shops selling fresh baked goods, souvenirs and chocolates, L’occitane (it was born in the South of France), and cafes selling decent lunches. You can easily spend hours in here, and when you’re done, get a good view of the whole town from the walls of the castle. It will not get more French than this, I shit you not.
3 pm – 6 pm:
Go to the Canal du Midi, at the edge of the Ville Basse. Rent a bike and cycle along the beautiful, quiet canal, and savour the lush greenery, passing vineyards, bridges and the beautiful French countryside. On a more ghastly side, be prepared to cycle for 25 km back and forth. You will probably displace your pelvic joints and come back sweaty and on the verge of passing out if you’re not fit, but it will be an unforgettable experience. If you wear boots while doing this like I did, you’re an idiot.
Have dinner at La Pergola, a restaurant next to the main park. After the accidental workout, you will probably devour a whole pizza or a fat bowl of pasta, which is a good idea since this restaurant serves some wonderful selections. Have a go at the cheese platter, found in almost every decent French restaurant. Don’t rush it. Enjoy your meal and your company. Watch the town slowly emit lights and the dinner crowd start swarming in.
7.30 pm – till whenever you’re done.
Go back to the Medieval Cite. The palace is not the same at night. The lights somehow makes it even more magical. As the shops are starting to close, you can now enjoy the quiet scene of the small alleys. The brick buildings will remind you of period movies, and true enough, movies have been shot here. In fact, did you know that there is board game created based on this place? Yep, you guessed it. It is called Carcassonne.