The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 17

Packed with fabulous features: Carcassonne, Nimes, Orange in Provence, Nice Carnival, Paris at Christmas, Laval in Mayenne, absinthe, the fashion district of Paris, recipes, guides and more. Our secret ingredient is passion!

The Medieval City of

The Medieval City of Carcassonne The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the old city of Carcassonne is every bit as enchanting when you see it in real life as it is in the photos. Its legacy goes back centuries, ancient tribes inhabited the area, the Romans arrived and built a fort – they called it Carcasso. The city changed hands several times, its history was colourful, it’s always been sought after. There is a legend that the Emperor Charlemagne laid siege to the fortified city for five long years in the 8th century. On learning that her people had just one pig and a bag of wheat left to survive on, the reigning princess, Dame Carcas, had the pig fed on the wheat and lobbed over those famous ramparts. Charlemagne, believing that the inhabitants must have so much food stored they could afford to chuck it away called off the siege. Dame Carcas had the bells of the city rung in victory, “Carcas… sonne” it was said, “Carcassonne is ringing” – hence the name. Dame Carcas’ likeness adorns one of the gates of the magnificent enclosed city, looking down on all who enter. In the middle ages the poorest people lived in ramshackle homes that leaned up against the ramparts whilst those that were more fortunate lived inside the protected walls. Over time the ramshackle homes spread and created the wider neighbourhood of Carcassonne. The old citadel gradually fell into ruin until state commissioned architect Viollet-le- Duc took on the restoration in 1844.

Far left: view of the Citadel; left, quiet streets in June; above: Dame Carcas statue; below street view in the citadel It is now considered to be the largest and best conserved medieval fortress in Europe, grand, imposing and home to a labyrinth of cobbled streets, churches, a castle, towers and ancient buildings. Of course all this beauty draws many visitors, around 4 million a year. If you want to see if without the crowds - avoid the summer months. You can visit for free to see most of it but there is a ticket fee to see some of it – it’s well worth it. Go in the evening when the tourists are gone and sip chilled wine while you contemplate the enormous history of this place… Details: