"Lady Carcas, but no Cathar catharsis" Carcassonne by kokoryko

Carcassonne Travel Guide: 490 reviews and 1,417 photos


Nothing psychoanalytic here, just playing with words, and discovering an amazing fortified city and a beautiful area where Cathars made history and are present, if not really, at least they left beautiful remains and they are still remembered in this area of Languedoc.
Let us discover here a beautiful fortified city and a bit of its history and discover few citadels of vertigo, awesome %L[http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/a05dc/1eabc/ ]“Cathar castles”%L*, sentinels on the ridges of the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Can you imagine that the fortified city was three times bigger in middle age? The impressive fortifications we discover nowadays are the ones of the inner city at the time; there was an outer wall, 200-300 meters outside encompassing what was called the bourg (the suburbs at the time), and we see in some way the city centre only today!
This place draws thousands of tourist visits every year, and it is probably the best place in France where you can have a real insight on civil and military architecture and city design, and most of visitors are enchanted after their visit here.
Viscount Trencavel ruled the city and the surrounding lands during the Crusade against the Cathars, and his city was a stronghold of that faith. Trencavel surrendered after a short siege by French (Franc, Northern, sent by the king of France) Simon de Montfort, and we owe him in some way that the city has not been destroyed during the Cathar wars, and that it can be visited now, even a number of restoration works were undertaken during the centuries.
Walk in the streets
If you visit southern France, and specially Languedoc, it would be a bit a pity not spending at least a few hours in this city, plunge back into medieval times, stroll in the narrow streets, walk on the ramparts, meet some buskers (music, theatre), or just sit in some corner under the shade of the high walls and try to imagine how it was 800 years ago.
Walking in the city offers beautiful perspectives, or wide views over the countryside, and you can enjoy all sorts of atmospheres, from the crowded central place and the nearby streets with cafés and souvenir shops, or just be almost alone for thinking, dreaming and even enjoy quietude under the high stone walls.

A resurrected Cathar city

This famous miniature shows the end of the siege of Carcassone when the inhabitants leave their city on 15th of August 1209, after Raimond-Roger Trencavel negotiated for their life when he surrendered; he knew that if he fought, he would loose and the Francs would kill all the inhabitants, as they did three weeks before in Beziers where 20.000 inhabitants lost their lives.
People of Carcassone have been chased from their city which was then plundered, but not destroyed; only their lives was what they could keep. Trencavel died few months later in the prison of his beloved city. . . . .
Time is not a friend of human constructions, and several restorations had to be undertaken to “save” this city.
French National Monuments Architect Viollet Le Duc, in the 19th century, who, alerted by local historian Cros-Mareyvieille undertook the most important renovation works which, if controversial about the style, at least saved the city. Much of what we see today, specially the main gates and the central fortress, we owe him.
My page here is only a very modest introduction to the Cité.

It is very touristy. . . .

Carcassone is one of the most visited places in France (only the castle has more than 350.000 paying visitors per year) and of course you will meet lots of fellow tourists strolling in the medieval streets, sitting at the cafés, walking on the ramparts; it is the fate of famous places, but even here, there are beautiful quiet places to visit, and there is a lot to discover on beaten paths and far from them. The Cité is a jewel, and walking here takes you back in history, is has a real beauty, in the landscape and from the inside, walk everywhere, you will enjoy this place.
No catharsis. . . I won’t get purified from my passions,. . . . . and Lady Carcas? Who was she? A few words about this clever woman in one of the tips. . . . .

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful old city
  • Cons:Crowded!
  • In a nutshell:A dive in the past
  • Intro Updated Mar 12, 2010
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Reviews (12)

Comments (5)

  • Durfun's Profile Photo
    Jun 12, 2011 at 3:51 AM

    Fantastic page here. Love the way you explain each numbered pic; nice touch. Merci beaucoup ;-) BTW did the Moors eat pork?? I guess Islam wasn't born yet..

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Dec 20, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    Hello, Hermann! Your page is really impressive as well as this place and France on the whole.... Viva la France! :-)

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Dec 5, 2010 at 6:01 AM

    We really enjoyed our visit to Carcassonne. You mention that it was larger in mediaeval times, but we found it impressive even now. Luckily we visited outside the European holiday season.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Mar 13, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    Hermann, Carcassonne looks and sounds like a very historic and scenic place to visit - even if it is a bit busy! I loved your photos and descriptions of the amazing fortifications that have survived the many centuries since the city fell.

  • HEMG59's Profile Photo
    Mar 12, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    I shall visit this place some day ! Just love it ..... interesting info, merci ! Hello from Mexico....


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