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About Me:Hi I’m Nadege and I study French at the University of Leeds, and I have just completed my third year abroad in Montpellier studying literature and enjoying the sunshine! I love art; painting and being creative, as well as photography and baking. Travelling is my favourite hobby at the moment; experiencing the French language and culture. I hope you enjoy reading some of my articles!
Carcassonne boasts a fortified town named ‘la Cité de Carcassonne’ which is located in the Aude department between the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, the Massif Central and the Pyrenees – a strategic position. With 2500 years of history, Carcassonne, located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France, had two listed UNESCO World Heritage sites. Firstly, the Medieval City, classified in 1997 and secondly, the Canal du Midi, listed in 1996. The Canal du Midi is a 241km long canal which provides links from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea. Previously, it was used to transport goods as well as people, running from Toulouse to Sète.
Describing UNESCO World Heritage sites, there are consequently numerous facts about history I must list. However, drawing from my personal experience, I can describe to you the delights of this wonderful town which is privileged to now have the (lower) town of Carcassonne, where inhabitants live. Here is located a quaint town, featuring typically French shops, restaurants and a square, surrounded by countryside and hills. Walking just outside the town, you are able to cross the Canal du Midi, to the Cité de Carcassonne – the fortified town on a steep hill. Here, it almost feels as though you are walking into either the magical Hogwarts from Harry Potter or a Disney fairytale due to the draw-bridges, the towers and the narrow cobble streets. The walls / defenses are incredibly high, and you can recognise why it was of such strategic importance to the Romans who occupied this settlement. These encircle the castle, which is a lot bigger than imagined, and you find yourself lost between the maze of streets and walls. It is said that the earliest sign of settlement was from the 6th century BC, and by the 3rd century, it was protected by defenses. The finished construction of defenses, built over many years, can be seen today with two lines of walls, a castle and two ‘portes’; the Porte Narbonnaise on the east and the Porte de l’Aude on the west. The Cité has recently become of significant importance since the architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc restored the fortification in the late 19th century. Today, the Cité is the second most visited touristic location after the Eiffel Tower!
When in Carcassonne, we decided to go for a tapas lunch in the fortified Cité, and guess what was on the menu – yes - frog’s legs and snails! Baring in mind I visited Carcassonne in February and came to France in August last year, this was the first and only time I have seen such stereotypical French foods on the menu. It really isn’t as big a speciality as people seem to think. French people much prefer a crêpe and a coffee! However, it being my first time tasting frog’s legs, it was a strange experience! It was almost as if I were eating a fishy meat on what looks like chicken wings. It is one of those things when you feel obliged, when you go to a different country, to order these stereotypical foods just to be able to say; I went to France and ate frog’s legs and snails. However I must say, having eaten snails numerous times, I do enjoy them (when I don’t think about what I’m actually eating) but this is simply because they are cooked sizzled in butter, garlic, herbs and sauce. However, I must honestly say I now feel slightly more French after having eaten these French delicacies even if the stereotype isn’t real!
IMAGE 1 - personal image. The Cité - fortified town.
IMAGE 2 - personal image. The Canal du Midi.