Ok, so there are old castles all over Europe, but how many fortified cities do you know of? I donâ€™t know if there are any others, but Carcassonne is one and itâ€™s really cool! First the areas first settlement dates back to about 3500 BC and eventually became an important place for trading. The place was first fortified around 100 BC by the Romans and continued major fortifications in the next thousand years, during which the fortified city repelled several attacks and invasions. Viewing the fortifications in person is pretty amazing, I must admit. Additionally the Canal du Midi goes through here. Itâ€™s a 150 mile long (240 or so km) canal built in the late 1600s that connects the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean.
Anyway, I rolled into Carcassonne in the middle of the night, well close to Midnight anyway.
I found an interesting looking motel and drove up a long, dark path to the office. I was immediately greeted by a massive black dog (I believe it was a mastiff mix) and I busted out my first words of French in France, â€ścâ€™est un grand chien!â€ť I said to the manager as he exited out the door to see who just rolled up. He smiled and said, â€śoui!â€ť Iâ€™m sure he detected my crappy accent immediately. Anyway, my eight years of French paid off as I apologized for my shitty French speaking ability but managed to speak with the fellow (who didnâ€™t speak any English) and get myself a room, make out his directions to where to go and have a rudimentary conversation.
Iâ€™m sure all of this sounds wholly unimpressive to most of the people from the rest of the world, but we Americans are terrible about speaking other languages.
No offense to the many Americans who do and do it well, but admit it, youâ€™re a select group. Anyway, Iâ€™m sure I could become a much better speaker of French if I actually lived there for a while, but for now, I must accept that I have a reasonable vocabulary, but am a terrible speaker. Nevertheless, it ended up being a pretty cool motel, a great deal and in the morning I drove to the old city, found a parking spot and walked up into the fortified city.
Walking into Carcassonne felt like going back in time, even though I know there has been much restoration work done on it. Looking down onto the â€ślow cityâ€ť from the ramparts was pretty cool. I grabbed some breakfast and a few hours there though I probably couldâ€™ve spent the whole day, but I wanted to get to Marseille by that evening so I needed to get a move on!