Monday, April 9, 2007

++The oldest City in Europe, Carcassone++

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Carcassonne, L'Aude, France

Traveling the south western Route from Montpellier towards the Spanish border, one will reach the city of Narbonne. This city is the starting point to some of the most scenic routes through the Corbieres, the unknown paradise of wine connoisseurs. With its rich volcanic soil the region produces some of the most exquisite Reds the world knows.

The tour goes through the vineyards, with its hills and Castles, its many wineries and gastronomic outlets. Just follow the road to Limoux and you know you are on the right track.

Stop at one of the many caves to sample the local magnificent elixirs, heavenly and unsurpassed in my opinion. No Bourgogne, nor Bordeaux or the more popular St. Nazaire, can match these great wines of Corbieres. We do not speak of the many attempts to copy, we speak of the home of grapes, the original.

Along the path you will see landscapes which leave a life long memory.

Do stop near the ruins of an old castle, once a major stronghold. Its tower still standing, you will be guided  back to the middle ages.

The city of Limoux is known for its Whites, the famous "Blanquettes de Limoux". Its wines are reputed throughout France, perhaps less so in the New World.

Then, turn to your right, towards Carcassonne. The City of Carcassonne is known to be the oldest standing city in Europe. With its main Chateaux or Castle still standing like in the Middle Ages, its City walls in place, the cobble stone roads intact, one can almost hear the horse carriages been drawn through the narrow streets.

Nowhere is the past so vivid as in Carcassonne. The City holds major medieval events in summer, and Tourists flock here to see these spectacles. Fire breathing, walking on stilts, medieval BBQ's., medieval cuisine will lead  you to a long forgotten time.

The prime choice in accommodation is the "Hotel de Cite", a 4 Star Hotel in the middle of the City, to reach it you must carefully navigate your Automobile through the narrow Alleys and roads.

Your night will be an experience. Remember that mighty and powerful clans lived here once. The interior of the Hotel is made of Fir, the thought of a blaze is not comforting.

An old carriage once used by the Princess is still displayed near the lobby, you are not allowed to mount it.

Take a break in the evening, a pleasant breeze of the Aude region with its scents of harvested Wheat coming from the meadows nearby. Take a seat near the main stage in the center, where since 1200  stage performances were held. Indulge yourself in a traditional  "Cassoulet de Carcassonne", with a glass of red Corbieres, preferably  '92 vintage, dream without realizing where you actually are. For one can not really contemplate the historic importance of this place. Enjoy every minute of this experience as there is none equivalent elsewhere.

The night passes by quickly and we move on, towards an other destination, the mighty range of the Pyrenees.

When we leave, the mighty City walls of Carcassonne lie in our back, the dark shadowed roofs visible till we reach the mountain road. Another time, au revoir, a bien tot, perhaps ..

HR Travels in Europe..

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