After visiting Paris and Normandy we finally had the opportunity to share with Deb and Gerry our home in Carcassonne and to walk up the hill from our apartment to explore the medieval double-walled city, la Cité de Carcassonne. We enjoyed the three kilometers walk around the walls of la Cité, viewed its 52 towers, saw the count’s château, and visited the many shops, restaurants, and hotels within. The citadel of la Cité is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For Tracy and I it is, “The view that never gets old.”
We took advantage of having a car to see one of the many Cathar castles that are scattered throughout the region, the ruins of the Château de Montségur. It is a legacy of the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229), a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to purge the Cathar sect from the Languedoc region in the south of France. The ruins of Montségur are at the top of 1,200 metres (3,900 feet) pog (an Occitan word meaning “peak, hill, mountain”) near the start the Pyrenees Mountain range.
The trip had the double purpose of “warming up” Tracy and Deb for their upcoming trek on the Camino de Santiago across Spain.
After their climb to the top of Montségur, we headed over to the town of Mirepoix. The small village of Mirepoix has managed to retain the classic architecture and charm of its original town square but with updated shops and businesses. The city is known for its overhanging arcade which has 150 individually carved wooden heads. A quaint place for a relaxing afternoon.
The time had come to split up. We drove to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port to deliver Tracy and Deb at the traditional start of the Camino Francés of the Camino de Santiago, the 1200 year old pilgrimage route of the 800 kilometers (500 miles) long Camino de Santiag0 (The Way of Saint James). Deb was limited to only having two weeks to hike, so they planned to walk the first 164 kilometers (102 miles) over the Pyrenees Mountains and through the Basque country of Navarre to Logroño, Spain, then skip ahead by train to Sarria, and finish the last 107 kilometers (67 miles) hiking through the Galicia region to Compostela de Santiago.
Gerry and I (with a continuous “comedy of errors” of finding our way along the French highways) continued on to Paris (after a brief overnight stop in Limoges.) Gerry and I enjoyed a final evening in Paris with a “Steak frites” (Steak and French fried potatoes) in the Montmartre district in the 18th arrondissement. We admired the sight of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, watched the unruly crush of bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, cars, trucks, and buses work their way (miraculously without a single collision) through the intersection near the Avner Métro station, and had a final ice cream. The next morning Gerry took the RER B to Charles DeGaulle Airport for his flight back to California and I caught The RER A to Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy and my Ouigo TVG train home to Carcassone.
Part 1: Paris with Deb and Gerry: Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Love Locks, Arc de Triomphe, and the Luxembourg Garden
Part 2: France with Deb and Gerry: Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy
Part 3: France with Deb and Gerry: Omaha Beach, Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial