last updated Sunday June 21, 2009
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FRIDAY 17TH: CARCASSONNE
We had to get up ridiculously early for the bracing 40-minute walk back to the bus stop in order to catch the train from Arcachon to Bordeaux for our next connection, but we caught up on some sleep on the train. We stayed at the Hotel Astoria in Carcassonne's rue Tourtel for €32 with private bathroom - friendly and roomy, very convenient for the railway station, in a pretty area near the canal, and beautifully kept, the hotel walls hung with assorted charming English memorabilia. Our only gripe was that the acoustics of the old building meant it could be noisy at night.
On the Friday the weather was rainy and we couldn't find the old walled city. We did however find the launderette in rue Aimee Ramon. The door of the place was stuck open and it was windy and damp and three machines had HORS SERVICE notices on them but we were hygienically challenged by now and so had no choice but to get on with it. After putting our money in the central control panel and selecting our machine, nothing happened, and when we thumped it a thin lady in glasses slaving over a sewing machine grumbled at us not to "hit my washers", but after we explained the problem she came down, gave the door a thump herself and it worked fine. As we waited for the washing to finish (staying well inside the place this time so we couldn't be separated from our laundry) a series of young men wandered in and hung silently around the thin lady as she sewed frantically away on her Singer.
Saturday morning saw the main town, quiet on the Friday, suddenly spring to life with a delightful fresh food market...
Le vieux cité, when we finally found it, proved to be a good 20 minutes walk through the town centre over the Pont Vieux and past a lovely carousel.
Inside the city walls was, well, an entire town's worth of courtyards, shops, restaurants and cafés...
...including Cooper Biscuit Heaven at La Cure Gourmande.
On Sunday we had an excellent three-course lunch menu for a measly €13 at Le Grand Puits in the old city, a restaurant which seemed to double up as a shrine to late Belgian singer and French folk hero Jacques Brel.
The dessert was a huge slice of crême patissière with caramel on top and prunes at the bottom yum!
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