This is day’s 8-9 of my post of our RS tour in May. I’m trying to post the tour as seen and experienced through my eyes;
Day 8 Carcassonne
I’d never heard of Carcassonne until it was one of the locations on The Amazing Race a few years ago and apparently, everyone else in the world saw that episode and came at the same time as me. If you’ve read about Carcassonne on this forum you’ve probably heard it be called an overcrowded tourist trap, and that is a close description. But it’s worth it, just do your research and plan. We arrived mid-afternoon and stayed in a hotel right across the street. We were scheduled for a group tour and then dinner in a couple of hours but I don’t do sitting around doing nothing very well and so I headed straight over to explore. It is wall to wall people on a Sunday afternoon in late May, but you can find some peaceful areas if you walk near the walls.
I’ll always be an advocate for finding a tour guide that can give you some inside knowledge and history about the place you’re visiting. Our local guide did not disappoint. Small facts can amuse me and attempts to beat the taxman are one of my favourites. The one fact that he brought up that you don’t get by wandering on your own is that quite a few buildings were narrower on the main floor than on the 2nd floor. They were built this way because taxes were collected based on the square footage of your main floor; and so, the solution, keep the main floor smaller. By the way, if avoiding the taxman stories amuse you, ask me about the tax dodge in Bath in the 18th century. By the time the tour and dinner ended at 8pm, Carcassonne was empty. We wandered through town and out a back gate to a bridge and watched sunset against the walls. Spectacular. That’s another point towards having a guide, who would have known about how the place looks at sunset and where to get the best view, there were very few people around besides our group.
The most memorable moment of Carcassonne for me though was the next morning. I got up early and took photos of the walls at sunrise. One of the absolute highlights of the trip. I wish I could post photos here. And no crowds; me, a woman from England and a couple of cats. After sunrise I wandered the streets by myself for about an hour before meeting with my group for breakfast. My advice for Carcassonne; it’s not to be missed and plan an overnight stay so you can have the place to yourself at sunset and sunrise.