Hopped on a train to Carcassonne this morning and rode back in time to the Middle Ages.
Visiting the château and ramparts of Carassonne was like a Renaissance Festival on steroids.
You enter the medieval city through the Porte Narbonnaise. The twin towers are a symbol of royal power and are certainly impressive.
I had no trouble imagining a moat where green grass now grows. Inside the gate, you could see a large opening (known as a machicolation for all you fortified castle buffs) for dropping projectiles on attackers.
We walked along the ramparts, enjoying some stunning views of the lower town founded by Louis IX in 1247 as well as the beautiful countryside.
Carcassonne controlled the route between the Mediterrean and the Atlantic. Until the signing of the Treaty of Pyrenees in 1659, Carcassonne was used to protect the border between France and Aragon, a medieval kingdom in Spain.
But with peace, the fortified city lost its strategic importance and was gradually abandoned in favour of the lower town, the Bastide. Carcassonne fell into ruin until the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc oversaw the restoration of the city to its medieval appearance between 1853 and 1862.
Full restoration, however, wasn’t completed until 1911.
Alas, there are only tourists like me with cameras at the ready to capture the next memory of this special place.