France Cavanac 2000.12.19 - 12.20

La Cité Médiévale de Carcassonne

From Autoroute 61, halfway between Narbonne and Toulouse, the walled fortress of la Cité Médiévale de Carcassonne is eye catching. "What's that?" was the only immediate reaction possible after many monotonous hours driving from Bordeaux to Marseille to meet Mako's plane arriving from Tokyo. We decided to return for a more leisurely look en route to Spain.

The Lonely Planet guide calls the summer months in Carcassone "a tourist hell". In the middle of December, Carcassone is rather pleasant even with noticeably loud tourists here and there. The Cité's inner and outer fortress walls make it one of the largest city fortifications in Europe. On the surface, the Cité is an excellent place to wander through. Historically, it's weak. Although some portions of the lower walls were constructed in the 13th century, the Cité took the shape seen today as recent as the 19th century. We think it's worth a visit.

The lower sections of the fortress walls are from the 13th century. The higher sections, including the coned turret roofs, were added during restoration in the 19th century.
Double fortress walls circle the entire Cité Médiévale, stretching a combined 3km.

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