16.05.2011 - 16.05.2011 25 °C
Wow, it’s hard to believe I’ve only been away for a week, with all that I’ve packed into it.
Today, the GPS became my nemesis, firstly trying to get me to turn into a field, through a fence, and then actually sending me down a forest road in the mountains instead of a highway – 11 km of it! And the road I turned off before that was supposedly a dual carriageway, in the narrowest sense – to fit my car on one side of the centre line I would have had to cut some off it. I know I wanted to get off the beaten track, but it was ridiculous. You can see in the pics how narrow the forest road was – if I’d been in England I’d have expected to see a bloke called Robin & some merry men appear.
Surprised a deer or two didn’t jump out in front of me. Despite the fact that it’s mostly very helpful, the trust is gone & I will now make sure I consult my map as well. At least I saw parts of France I hadn’t expected to, and there were no tolls to pay. The views from the top of that forest road in the Montagne Noire at the south eastern end of the Massif Central are stupendous (see pics). NZ has some great views but you just can’t see as far without another mountain getting in the way. Here, there's an actual horizon.
I left Sarrazac (with the room key in my pocket!) at about 11am, and arrived at Carcassonne about 6pm – with a couple of stops along the way for photo ops, and food of course.
The town of Albi - if you look closely you can see the cathedral
Not too long after I left I found myself driving along with a high cliff on one side and a river valley on the other. I glanced up and was amazed that there was a house right on the edge of the cliff. I couldn’t stop straight away but did so a bit further on & took a photo.
I’ve marked on it where the house is & despite what it looks like, there's nothing but fresh air under the back of that house. Guess they don’t go out in the backyard too often!
Stopped over in a town called Figeac intending to have lunch there, but it felt strange, & uncomfortable there so I didn’t stay. It looks like a bit of a truckstop town. The town of Villefranche de Rouergue is a lovely looking place, perched on a cliffside like many of the towns in this area. It’s so amazing how hundreds of years ago they could build like this, and the houses are still there now. Today, builders don’t have those skills, despite all the modern materials & equipment.
When I finally got to Carcassonne, I was blown away. The medieval walled city (La Cité) is jaw-droppingly awe-inspiring (how’s that for a superlative!). It sits on a high mound surrounded by the outer town of Carcassonne. My accommodation is in a Chambre d’Hôte – what we would call a homestay – right at the base of the ramparts & it takes only 5 minutes up a track to the castle entrance. My room is lovely (as are the owners), with shared shower & the loo is downstairs. No one else is staying tonight so all good from my point of view.
La Cite - stunning!
How many wagon wheels, hooves & feet have trodden here over the centuries?
Lovely sunset from Carcassonne
Had dinner in the Cite, had to try the local speciality, pork cassoulet with duck confit – it’s basically a white bean stew with pork sausage & a duck leg. It’s pretty tasty & good comfort food, and the duck is delicious in it.
(There was no internet connection here, so uploaded the next day)