Narbonne Plage to Dunes Rest Area, via Carcasonne ~~~ Thursday 16th of June

once upon a time, i read this book:

and, unlike many of the reviewers on Amazon, it seems, i actually enjoyed it.  and it made me want to visit one of its settings; the medieval walled city of Carcasonne.  imagine, then, my delight, when i realised how close we would be to the place on our journeyings!

so onwards we travelled and, after much, much begging, Hubby took on an apprentice driver…

M. Petit le Reynard, junior driver

Carcasonne was, by the standards of its time, huge.  or, at least, i imagine so.  set on a hilltop, commanding the countryside far and wide, it was impressive.

a little sadly, so were the prices in its shops, but i suppose that’s only to be expected, really.  Hubby did manage to acquire a lovely shirt for a reasonable price, however (and following a disagreement over the colour – of course it’s brown!  why on earth would anyone ever think it was purple…? O.o), we decided that it was “hot chocolatey”.

the cobbled streets were narrow and twisty, the buildings were odd shapes, and it was rather a lovely place, all in all.  not long after we arrived, we wandered into a (possibly the) church.  we almost didn’t.  as we were heading in that direction, i glimpsed a beautiful and peaceful-looking garden through an archway, and wantd to explore it.  but we decided to have a look at the church, first.  neither of us are religious, but we both really love to look at the architecture of churches.  by their nature, churches (especially the older ones) tend to be built to the very best of the builders’ collective abilities, since they are (i assume) building it for something more than money.  and this was no exception.  i seem to recall that it was 14th century, but very, very well used.  even now, actually.  mass is still said there regularly, for which they clear out the tourists. the building had the air of a favourite garment; worn and frayed at the edges, much repaired (not always expertly), but soft and comfortable and well-used, and loved deeply.  as we walked towards the altar end, amongs the crowds of (very quiet and respectful) toursts,  we noticed something a little out of place.  ther was a small huddle of men around the front pew, one of whom had a laptop.  it chimed an odd note, but we soon found out what they were up to, when they arranged themselves at the front of the church and began to sing.

it was beautiful.  just utterly, stunningly beautiful.  five male voices singing in close harmony filling that vast space.  it was an almost physical sensation.  we sat listening with tears rolling down our faces.

when they had finished, and announced that their CD was for sale (how prosaic), Hubby spoke the quote of the holiday.  he looked around in wonder and, very quietly, said:

all this effort, just to build a cave to sing in

it would take a whole other post for me to encapsulate what that phrase struck inside me, but trust me when i say that every day, in so many different ways, my husband reminds me why i love him.  he is neither a writer nor a particularly enthusiastic reader, yet he has a way with words that i could never, ever hope to achieve.  he has the soul of a poet.

*cough* …anyway…

some time later, we decided to have a French lunch.  three courses, fourteen euros.  sitting out on the street, watching the world go by, it took us two hours, and was a lovely, thoroughly delicious meal.  M. Petit le Reynard enjoyed it very much, too…

"om nom nom"

Hubby had been practicing hard, learning as much French as he could.  still very unsure of himself, though, his use of it was pretty much confined to peppering our conversation with the words or phrases he had learned or was learning.  halfway through the meal, however (with much coaching and, okay, a little goading from your humble correspondent), he did speak a whole French phrase to a French person, and made himself understood!  i was so proud! 😀  there was, however, a small, unforseen (by me, at least) drawback.  it went something like this:

Hubby:  where’s the loo?

Squeaky: (smugly, and with a slightly mischievous glint in her eye) not telling you.  you’ll have to ask the staff.

H:  oh, come on!

S:  nope.

(there followed a little good-natured wrangling, and some coaching on how to say, “Ou sont les toilettes, s’il vous plait?”)

(hubby disappears into the restaurant)

(returns sometime later)

S: (excitedly) how did it go?  did you do it?

H: (with an air of pride) yes.

S: yay! 😀

H: (gives S a look) yes – i asked the guy…

S: i’m so proud of you! 😀

H: …but then he started telling me where they were.  in French!

S: …ah…  i didn’t think of that…


in a patisserie near one of the gates, i discovered something wonderful.  it’s called cannelle and it is indescribeably delicious!  thse little beauties taste so good that when i found the Wikipedia page, i actually sighed with wistful longing.  please, gentle reader, i beg you – if you are ever lucky enough to have the opportunity to try one of these little darlings, DOOO EEET!!!

we left Carcasonne having had a very enjoyable day, and ended at another beautifully kept, peaceful rest stop, where we got a full 9 hours’ sleep.  gotta love the French attitude to travelling.