Carcassonne a must see?

Apr 10th, 2007, 01:59 PM
  #21  
 
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Thanks mimi - I'm familiar with that site...
TuckH is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 03:35 PM
  #22  
 
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Count me in the "not impressed" category for Carcassone. We went a 2nd time thinking we must have not liked the place the 1st time because it was early March and the weather was quite cool. Visited another time in June with beautiful weather and it still didn't call to us at all. There are so many other intersting places that are real, living places that I wouldn't bother.
julies is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 03:50 PM
  #23  
 
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I have no problem with most "touristy" sites, but Carcassonne (mid-day in July) was so packed that it was impossible to move around. It was so claustrophobic that I had to leave shortly after we arrived. And we spend a lot of time getting there, too, but I found the place unbearable.

I'm sure it would be a different experience at night, but I've no doubt that in late June, there would be signficant crowds during the day. No, I would NOT drive 1 1/2 hours each way for a day trip to Carcassonne. There are SO many great destinations that are less overwhelming and are perhaps even more interesting - I would ONLY go there if I could be there at night. And since the days are quite long by the end of June, the tourist crowds are going to last into the early evening.

That's my two cents worth.

Paule
progol is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 03:55 PM
  #24  
 
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Thank you julies and paule!
TuckH is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 04:47 AM
  #25  
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Thanks very much for your replies! I'm aiming for only 1 or 2 "for sure, structure the week around it" trips or sights per week (3 weeks, 3 different locations) and am working on categorizing other options (history, active, visual, generically interesting, kid focused etc). And there is nothing wrong with something being on the list because it is a "brand name site". Sometimes nice to contrast the famous with the 'stumbled upon'. I will start a list of Cathar castles! I figure too that if the intent is to give a sense of history, it doesn't have to be the "best" or the "biggest" of whatever if it. My kids just spent a good hour this weekend exploring what they called a 'castle' but which was actually the 'ruins' of a Woolen Mill that was almost, but not quite, (wait for it you Europeans)100 years old!!! So I am curious to see how much of an additional sense of history the 1200's bring! (as we try to avoid the trap that my parents fell in the year my brother and I were dragged - or in hind sight had the opportunity to go - to a series of Hadrian's wall sites!)
Canada_V is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 05:28 AM
  #26  
 
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Graziella,

"However I understand that most of it has been reconstructed. By Violet le DUc, ?"

Most of what you see at Carcassonne is original. Viollet-le-Duc redid the top of the walls. 80 % of the stones you see on the façade of Notre Dame in Paris come from the successive restorations, but it is still a 13th-century cathedral...

Maybe not a brick, not a piece of timber you see at Monticello is original, but it is still visited as Jefferson's home...

Concerning Carcassonne, it is of course a place to be seen, and an UNESCO site, and not despite the 19th-century restorations, which were on the whole thoughful and restrained. Yes, it is heavily visited, but there is no garish commercialism on the remparts themselves, which are a public historical monument.

If in the walled city local shops sell plastic swords and synthetic resin "gargoyles", that's because there is a demand for that.
Trudaine is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 06:19 AM
  #27  
 
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Yeh I bought my young son a plastic sword in the Cite. Ironically a French worker at my local deli hails from Carcassone and she says her cousin runs a souvenir shop in the Cite, by what she calls the 'castle'.

I guess i misunderstood just how much renovation was done... or not done but that Violet did i guess save the site from becoming a total ruin which it was on the way to before he took control - locals i guess were looting the carcass for building materials.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 07:19 AM
  #28  
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Hi andasamo,

Thank you for the kind words.

My trip report is at
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=34676645

ira is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 07:50 AM
  #29  
 
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Tuck -

My favorites were Puilarens, Queribus and especially Peyreperteuse. For a day trip from Arles, it's doable but only just, and definately get an early start. Also, viamichelin's 2 hours from Arles to Carcassone is highly dependant on traffic.

-Kevin
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Apr 11th, 2007, 07:57 AM
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Thanks Kevin...
TuckH is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 08:41 AM
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Tuck, I just realized you asked me about those castles, too. We saw only one, Puilarens, and I'd happily go back. My wife and I were there in October 2001 and sat for an hour in the ruins of the castle. We saw no one else there and our most enduring memory is that it was the most silent place we have ever been. Beware, though, it's quite the climb to get up there.

I regret not seeing the other two that Kevin mentions, Queribus and Peyrepertuse. Judging by the write-ups in the Green Guide, they look like steep climbs as well.

Anselm
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Apr 11th, 2007, 08:46 AM
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Thank you too Anselm!
TuckH is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 09:02 AM
  #33  
 
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In reading up for our trip next month to the Languedoc, and Cathar castles, I have gotten very caught up in the story of the Cathars - very interesting. Anyway, there is one Cathar castle that's northeast of Carcassonne, that you could possibly fit in on a day trip from Provence. It's called Lastours, and sometimes called Caberet. Here's an informative writeup about it: http://www.languedoc-france.info/120708_cabaret.htm (sorry I don't know how to do tinyurl, and beside, I like to see where I'm linking to). I haven't been to it yet, but it's on our (very long) list!
Lexma90 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 09:18 AM
  #34  
 
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I barely remember the city of Carsassone, but we stayed at a B&B outside of town that was called the Bond House and we loved it!! Artistic, charming, hostess who was also a great chef! I believe she hosts cooking schools at the house as well.....
queener is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 09:41 AM
  #35  
 
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The last time I stayed in Carcassonne, I have to admit that it was in the local Formule 1 (!) and I went into town in early morning and in the evening only. At those times, it was fantastic, but yes, it is all fake (restored fake).

If you have seen the Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood, Carcassonne was used as the setting for... what? Nottingham? Whatever the evil nearby city was...
kerouac is online now  
Apr 11th, 2007, 10:14 AM
  #36  
 
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It was Nottingham.

Lexma90, there is a very readable history of the Cathars by Stephen O'Shea called The Prefect Heresy. And for those looking for even more, there's always Jonathan Sumption's The Albigensian Crusade.

Anselm
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Apr 11th, 2007, 10:17 AM
  #37  
 
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And the book, Labyrinth.
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 11:39 AM
  #39  
 
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Yes, The Perfect Heresy is one of the books I read; I can't remember the name of the other non-fiction book about the Cathars. I also read The Treasure of Montsegur, by Sophy Burnham. All good.
Lexma90 is offline  

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