BETTER TO FEEL LIKE AN EAGLE
The church of Saint Vincent is undoubtedly one of the architectural jewels of Carcassonne in Languedocian Gothic style.
The most striking is its great octagonal bell tower, housing a carillon of 47 bells that can be seen and heard from any point of Carcassonne.
Interestingly, this church served as a geodetic reference point for the astronomers Delambre and Maichain, commissioned by France to determine the Earth´s longitude. However, later studies revealed that they falsified the evidence to make the measurement appear credible and of "perfect" proportions amid the Enlightenment era in France.
The Church of Saint Vincent was built in the 14th century. Still, like many other monuments of Carcassonne, it had to be restored in later centuries, primarily after it was used as a weapon factory during the French Revolution.
Inside, it has a basilica floor plan with several vaulted side chapels, where we can see a great cultural heritage in the form of relics, stained glass windows (these are more recent, dating from the 19th century) and sculptures.
In addition, the church of Saint Vincent has several interesting paintings by Jacques Gamelin, a native of Carcassonne and painter to Pope Clement 14th, Pierre Hubert Subleyras, one of the most outstanding representatives of late baroque and Neoclassicism, and Pierre Mignard, one of the best French classical painters.
At 54 m high, its massive crenelated bell tower can be seen for miles around, and you can now climb the 232 steps to enjoy a 360° panoramic view of the Carcassonne countryside. Once there, it is easier to understand why it was once a defensive site. Small cannons were placed there (yes, in a church!) and did not hesitate to fire.
It is truly a spectacular place to enjoy the best views of the walled city. From the Grand Canal to the vineyards of Languedoc, you will be able to appreciate so many things. A place where you can rest and relax after climbing the steps.
Please don´t ask for the lift, of course. There isn´t one.
EYE, NOSE AND MOUTH
Languedoc-Roussillon is a term that does not appear on wine labels but has long been used by administrators, merchants, writers and other wine professionals. It groups several appellations in southern France, from Nîmes and Montpellier in the east, along the Mediterranean coast and inland to the Spanish border. Languedoc is the quintessential French character, having belonged to the country since the 13th century. Roussillon was acquired from Spain in the 17th century and showed clear influences of Spanish and Catalan culture.
Soil types and terroir vary across the region and the topography, so it isn´t easy to describe them collectively. In general, it is a warm and dry region with a definite Mediterranean climate.
The arrival of the railway in the South of France (in the 19th century) was a significant boost to the local wine industry and brought about important changes at the national level. Historically, wine transport was almost exclusively limited to water transport.
Discover the diverse flavours of the French region in the city of Carcassonne on this vineyard tour and wine tasting experience in Carcassonne. Stroll through its vineyards with your hosts and learn about the different grapes that thrive in the fertile soils. Visit the barrel room and taste some of the fruity wines in production during tasting sessions. Enjoy a delicious dinner with local specialities accompanied by a range of fine wines.
Carcassonne is nestled among the rolling hillsides of France´s Languedoc Rousillon region, where fertile valleys are bordered with lush vineyards. Begin your visit to the winery and vineyards by walking through the vineyard grounds and learning about the winemaking process. Visit the barrel room, where the young wines mature slowly and taste some of the wines in production. Listen to your hosts talk about the history of the winery and the various grape varieties grown there.
Domaine de la Sapienere is a winery only 7 minutes away by taxi, where you can enjoy a lovely afternoon surrounded by vineyards and better understand the history of this place.
Address: Maquens, 11090 Carcassonne
BAG FILLING TIME!
Although not strictly a shopper´s paradise, the lower town of Carcassonne has some eye-catching boutiques that are a good source for take-home treats and self-indulgent souvenir shopping.
Antiques, books and wine are the most popular items among shoppers. Carcassonne has two distinct shopping areas; in the modern lower town, Bastide Saint Louis, Rue Georges Clémenceau and Rue de Verdun. Here you can find shopping streets with various shops, bookshops with rare or out-of-print editions, shoes, cosmetics and perfumes.
The colourful market on Place Carnot, with a delicious selection of local specialities, is well worth visiting. All of these are concentrated in the network of streets that start at Place Carnot (home to the weekly food market and, in winter, the temporary ice rink) and can be covered in an hour if you´re a little short on time.
Shopping in the city is more authentic, although most of the shops are dedicated to tourists. There are many small shops, boutiques and craftsmen. You can buy all kinds of souvenirs, such as original woollen clothes, antique maps or gift items like antiques and local handicrafts. You can also find knives, swords and other medieval weapons in the specialised shops. You will find excellent souvenirs and toys for children.
You can guide yourself through its medieval nooks and corners and cobbled streets by going through the Rue Saint-Louis.
As we mentioned, this city is not significantly developed in this aspect of shopping. You are sure to find many souvenirs and memorabilia in these streets, although they are of slightly lower quality but with reasonable prices.
Good luck and don´t spend too much
THIS LADY WON`T FIT ON A SHELFIE...
I don´t know if the lady will fit in a selfie as a whole…
The Narbonne Gate is the main entrance to the city: the two massive towers are shaped like a spur. A chain blocked the access, and a chain was used to secure the entry, and a double-locking device was used to close the gate.
After the false drawbridge from the end of the 19th century, which spans the dry moat, the "Porte Narbonense" gate is defended by the Saint-Louis barbican.
This gate was formerly called Porte de Pressan.
Two peaked towers and a cambered structure bear witness to the time of Philippe le Hardy and the last constructions that reinforced the town.
Connected on the first floor by a large guard room, the towers defended their lower slopes employing spade-shaped loopholes, typical to the period, which was necessary to withstand a siege.
The Northern tower has a deep cistern, while the Southern one has a store to keep salted meat.
Tiers and machinery defend the ogival gate that permitted the entrance of chariots to the city. At night, the street is blocked by a taut chain. A 14th-century virgin, mutilated during the revolution, is placed in a niche above the city´s most important gate entrance.
In the 8th century, Emperor Charlemagne besieged Carcassonne, which was ruled by the Saracen king Ballak. On Balak´s death, his wife, Dame Carcas, succeeded him as the city´s head. The siege of the city had already lasted five years when famine overcame the last defenders.
Lady Carcas guarded the city and made it look like it was heavily guarded: she arranged straw dummies dressed as soldiers and fired crossbows at the besieging army. They started running out of food; there was only a small pig and a measure of wheat left in the city to feed the population. Lady Carcas stuffed the only pig with the rest of the grain and threw it off the wall. When the pig hit the ground, it burst, a gush of grain poured out of its torn belly.
Seeing what had happened, Charlemagne immediately lifted the siege, assuming that the blockade wasn´t affecting Carcassone much when even the pigs get to eat the best wheat.
Before the great army disappeared, Dame Carcas sounded the city´s horn to announce the good news to the surrounding areas. It was then when it was said that one of his vassals said to Charlemagne: Sir, Caracas is blowing!
We encourage you to take a photo with Lady Carcas; you will not be disappointed.
YOU WILL BE AMAZED
The date of construction of the church of Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Celse, named after two Italian saints, is not precisely known.
Its construction, next to an ancient Carolingian church, probably dates back to the Visigoths. However, it is known for sure that it was converted into a cathedral in 925.
In 1096 the Romanesque Cathedral was constructed. Pope Urban II, who came back to Rome after having summoned the First Crusade in Clermont-Ferrand, blessed the material gathered for the construction.
In 1269, significant work was born. The nave remained in place, but the choir was demolished, leaving room for a new ensemble with two Gothic transept arms. This project lasted more than 50 years and was not completed until the 1330s. Damaged during the revolution, the Cathedral became national property. In 1840, the basilica was declared a historical monument and, as such, was protected by the federal authorities.
In 1844, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, architect of the Historical Monuments, was commissioned with the renovation project.
The gargoyles and the medieval architecture;
Let us listen to Viollet-le-Duc, who explains the reason and the history of this architectural ornament: "It was not until the beginning of the 13th century that gargoyles [...] were placed on the fall of roofs. Until then, the water from the roofs or terraces dripped directly onto the streets".
The oldest gargoyles identified by the architect belong to Laon cathedral and date from 1220. Already, he points out, "these gargoyles have the shape of imaginary animals. "
During the restoration of the church of Saint-Nazaire, he was confronted with the disappearance of the gargoyles. This is where his artistic creativity could express itself. He wrote Viollet-le-Duc, exchanged his architect´s tools for the artist´s brush and tirelessly drew gargoyles which he had the stonemasons on the site make. From this work remain the fantastic silhouettes that decorate the basilica and the numerous sketches by his hand preserved in the Departmental Archives of the Aude.
Be careful; they can bite... enjoy!
ONE SPECIAL MEAL, ONE SPECIAL ROUTE, ONE UNIQUE CHALLENGE
Why not feel a little bit like kings...right?
The Canal du Midi network, built between 1667 and 1694, is one of the modern era´s most extraordinary civil engineering achievements. It paved the way for the industrial revolution, with its 360 km of waterways linking the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and its 328 structures (locks, aqueducts, bridges, tunnels, etc.)
The care given to the architectural aesthetics and the landscapes created by its designer, Pierre-Paul Riquet, made it not only a technical feat but also a work of art.
The Canal du Midi was the first part of the Canal des Deux-Mers project, which linked the Mediterranean and the Atlantic by connecting several stretches of waterways. It is a living testimony to the ingenuity and creativity of the engineers of Louis XIV´s time who overcame the challenging conditions of geography and hydrography to fulfil the long-held dream of "linking the seas".
Its significant technical and cultural influences inaugurated and influenced the modern era of creating navigable networks in the industrialised countries of Europe and North America.
Everything here is enchanting, from the wilderness offering natural discoveries that only the little Camargue can offer to great works of art. The medieval towns of the Canal du Midi are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During your cruise, visits to exceptional sites are at your fingertips in the heart of the Southern canals: Carcassonne and its famous medieval city, Toulouse and its basilicas that give it the nickname pink city or the vineyard of the Minervois resting on the foothills of the Montagne Noire.
It is also a journey through the mane of white horses dancing in the wind, migratory herons, and so many wild species.
It is an epic journey through the centuries and the historical treasures that time has preserved. Of course, a cruise on the Canal du Midi is also influenced by the Mediterranean atmosphere and art of living. You pass through lively villages after sampling some of the local delicacies of the sea on the quays. A world-famous river cruise, yet with stunning simplicity, the cypresses and pines pass under the chirping of the cicadas, totally free, as Charles Trenet so aptly put it.
Head to the river port, where there are different rides and extra activities on offer. The trips last a minimum of an hour and a half and will cost a minimum of €8,50.
You are all welcome to enjoy it!!!
A BOTTOMLESS WELL…
There are 22 wells strategically spread throughout the Cité de Carcassonne, which once served to supply the citadel´s inhabitants with precious water.
The large well is not only the largest but is also considered to be the oldest of them all. The base of this well dates from the 14th century, while the columns and ironwork are products of the Renaissance.
A legend claims that the well contains hidden treasure from Solomon´s temple, buried there by the Visigoths when they feared the coming of Attila. Extensive excavations have not yielded any valuable finds, but hope is eternal thanks to the intriguing history of this well.
It is the only well in the city with the particularity of being accessible from both sides of the inner wall. It is built within the thickness of the wall, not far from the Tour du Tréseau. While many of the city´s towers take their name from the purpose for which they are built, this well got its name from a dreadful event that occurred in 1781.
It was 9 or 10 am on the morning of November 29 1781, when a woman´s body was discovered in the Grand Puits de la Cité, dressed in a green and red striped woollen skirt and a green and ochre cloth jacket under which she wore a white shirt. Her cotton stockings were also white, and she still has her muslin canvas headdress on her head. The people present at the scene recognise her immediately. Marguerite Azéma was the baker´s wife in the Trivalle district, a working-class neighbourhood below the Cité. The baker´s name was Sentry. So, with the southern populations´ taste for nicknames, she is called Sandrine.
Her body was taken to the Tour du Tréseau, which at the time housed the city´s town hall. A quick examination was carried out, but no trace of violence was found. The woman only had a small scratch on her left knee. The death is registered. Some people who knew her were interviewed.
Testimony such as Jean Galtier, an innkeeper in La Trivalle and a neighbour of the Sendry´s, said that Marguerite Azema had been showing signs of insanity for some time. The local surgeon, Pierre Boyer, corroborated this testimony, who spoke of absurd speeches and behaviour. Even a consul of the city, Jean Avar, support the thesis of insanity. The case was closed, and no one cared.
The mystery continues...Gulp!
OH… MY LORD!
Carcassonne was the seat of power of the Counts of Carcassonne and later the famous Trencavel family in the 12th century.
After the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229), when the royal forces seized Carcassonne, accusing it of complicity with the Cathars, it became a royal fortress. It defended the border between France and Aragon until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. In the 19th century, the city was on the verge of being demolished and used as a stone quarry.
For more than 50 years (1853-1911), Viollet-le-Duc and his successor Paul Boeswillwald restored its medieval appearance.
Discover the ramparts and the castle of the Counts of Carcassonne, in the heart of the fortified city. These masterpieces of Gallo-Roman and medieval military architecture have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997. Go directly to the gate with your ticket to visit this incredible castle and its walls.
You can take a self-guided tour and walk all the time you want, exploring the fortifications.
Explore the three kilometres of walls, including two fortresses (4th and 13th centuries), four gates and 52 towers; lean out of the arrow slits for a magnificent view of Carcassonne; visit the castle of the Counts of Carcassonne. It was inhabited since ancient times; the site was protected against the Lower Roman Empire by a Gallo-Roman wall. Despite these fortifications, the city was successively occupied by the Visigoths, the Saracens and the Franks.
Once the seat of power of the Counts of Carcassonne, then of the famous Trencavel family in the 12th century, the castle became royal property after the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229) initiated by Pope Innocent III.
Accused of collaboration with the Cathars, Carcassonne was besieged and finally surrendered in 1209. In the 19th century, the architect Viollet-le-Duc restored the fortified city and completed the reconstruction work of the 13th century.
Inside the city, Viollet-le-Duc also restored the basilica of Saint-Nazaire, combining a Romanesque nave and aisles with a Gothic choir and transept.
The basilica has remarkable stained-glass windows, the oldest of which date back to the 13th century. Several pieces of stone from the basilica are also on display in the castle museum.
Undoubtedly, a wonderful tour of this unique monument where we can enjoy beautiful views and feel the soul and essence of this castle and its walls.
We encourage you to walk along its walkways and observe the defensive battlements that remind us of those medieval times of princes and princesses.
Wellcome to Europamundo Vacations, your in the international site of:
Bienvenido a Europamundo Vacaciones, está usted en el sitio internacional de: