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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fun in France: Part Un

That fiancé of mine decided we needed a mini-vacay to France before school started. I love him.


We opted to visit Carcassonne via Narbonne. Unfortunately, there were no available seats on the train we needed to get all the way there, so we took the bus to Narbonne then trained to Carcassonne. Just FYI, no matter what bus you take for long distance (we used Eurolines), you need to check in at the bus station office. People get very cranky if you don't.

The first part of our trip included the bus ride to Narbonne, briefly exploring Narbonne, and spending our first night in Carcassone.


Narbonne!

We didn't have too much time to explore Narbonne, but it was definitely a good experience. There is a beach nearby, a beautiful cathedral, and several historical points of interest dating back to Roman times. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit one of them.


This is outside the Roman Horreum. No pictures were allowed inside unfortunately. It's a monument from 1st century B.C. The part that we saw was mostly underground (a nice escape from the hot temps!), and was likely used for storage of goods.


Here's Will just outside the Horreum. I know it sounds like a dirty word, but it's not. I promise.


I really loved this flat..I think the steps take you through a little hallway to the other street.


When my mom first saw pictures of where we lived, she was surprised it was such a large street. Mom, this one's for you. I think this was what you were expecting.  


This is the Cathedrale Saint Just.


It features gargoyles. Does anybody remember that cartoon?


I took a lot of pictures and tried to spare you from my trigger finger ones where you see the same thing from 20 different angles.


Ah yes, here I am. I've worn my hair down...pretty much never since arriving. Its SO stinking hot. I wore my French Bulldog shirt (from Spain) to France. Ironic, no?


There's a park just beside the cathedral as well as some more great architecture. In addition to the Horreum, there are other sites to visit across the town. I wish we would have gotten to explore more of them!

Carcassonne:

After a short train ride, we arrived in Carcassonne only a few days before a big festival. From the looks of it, the festival was going to be a pretty big deal, so maybe it's for the best. I would rather enjoy my vacation without being pushed and prodded by people walking by...oh wait, this is Europe. It doesn't matter if how crowded the sidewalk is, that always seems to happen.

Enough pessimism, Carcassonne was beautiful!


We were greeted by a bridge to cross the river and were able to check out some of the boats.


This may be the original "Pizza Hut". This part of Carcassone (in the Aude valley across from the Carcassonne Castle) had some walls and fortifications too..makes me wonder if it was for sentries.


Our room. The sheets freak me out, thanks to none other than the arch enemy I can't live without, E-Kay-A (Ikea). Grrrr...


A view of Carcassonne Medieval City from the river. Beautiful.


Cross the bridge to experience a whole new (old) world!


We did cross the bridge our first day in Carcassonne, but it was just to eat dinner since most places were closing fairly early by Spanish standards. What did we have our first night in France, you may ask? ITALIAN(esque)! What?! I told you already that most places were closed. Don't worry, the menu was in French (some English) and our waiter spoke Spanish, so it was at least partially authentic.


We ate at Il Ponte Vecchio. Of course, we got the menu of the day, and I attempted to remember what little French I have picked up from cartoons and my sisters Kylee and Amber throughout the years.

My first plate was salmon carpaccio, and Will got minestrone. How fun....trying to figure out how to say Italian words in French. With a waiter who was willing to speak Spanish and English to us, it was quite the spectacle, I'm sure.


We both had the poulet (chicken) with potatoes, tomato, two tiny carrot slices, and a little orange. It was delicious.


Mmm...As American as (French) apple pie a la mode with chantilly...

Will went for strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream...Napoleon! Errr, I mean Neapolitan.

For those of you who are familiar with travel in Spain, you have come to value free tap water and copious refills given to you before your current beverage has yet to be depleted. That's because there is no such thing as free water in Spain when you are dining out. There's no such thing as free refills either (unless you go to Subway, how very touristy of you...not that I've ever done that!). In France, however, we were pleasantly surprised to find that not only is the water free, and not only do you get free refills of it, it comes in cute former wine bottles from the region (well, at least it does in Carcassonne). AND, you get free bread. I love free things.

I nearly forgot. Our first night there was Thursday. The Thursday of the Supercopa El Clasico. It's the pre-season match up between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Never one to miss out on world class futbol, we found the Bar F1 (awesome place decorated with only the finest of racing memorabilia and free Wi-Fi) and cheered FCB to victory!

Thus concludes Fun in France: Part Un

Check out Fun in France: Part Deux...On a blog near you!



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