Further south than Carcasonne is Limoux, another medieval town with lots of appeal. It’s just a little too far from Paris for my liking.
This post features photos taken by my husband, with my Olympus DSLR that he gave me for my birthday a few years ago. Although it takes brilliant photos, I tend to stick with my little Canon, due to its more portable size and ease of use.
Sometimes tourist areas are not the best places to dine, but this was delightful. The goat’s cheese salad seemed to comprise the cheese fried in a crepe triangle atop a lovely green salad, a wonderful starter. Cassoulet is a specialty of the region, with slow-cooked pork, duck and sausage and haricot beans. Think French-style baked beans!
Avoiding tourists appearing in our photos is a game we play. As we had arrived in the afternoon, the place was brimming with visitors, but the crowd had died down somewhat after dinner. Then the lights shone on the battlements to create an awe-inspiring atmosphere.
Bright and early the next morning we were back again, but by missing the tourists, we hadn’t thought about delivery trucks and people on their way to work at the many shops in the old city. As you can see, we managed to achieve the goal of the game.
And finally, the street that had been bursting with tourists had a greater sense of history in the morning in its stillness.
Our main plan had been to head down to Carcassonne, but we were glad to have seen Sarlat as well.
The old walled city of Carcassonne, covering an area of eleven hectares, is reminiscent of Le Mont St Michel up north. Popular amongst tourists, it presents a challenge to take photos containing only the architecture.
These photos were taken with a Canon IXUS 135 camera by yours truly.
The subject matter certainly helps take a good shot 🙂
On the continuation of the road trip towards southern France, we decided to check out Toulouse, but really, if you are going to try to discover a city, a couple of hours is not nearly enough time.
Parking was an absolute nightmare. We drove into a multi-level parking area which indicated a large number of available spaces, only to find cars taking up more than one space each. Unless you drove one of those tiny smart cars, there was no hope. I was annoyed because we had already taken a ticket and thought we would be stung for parking, but perhaps the authorities realise the difficulties and since we exited within five or so minutes, we were not charged.
We had much better luck at a newer carpark, from where we went to find something to eat. I was in major need of a toilet stop by this stage, after driving around Toulouse for so long and not really seeing anything, so we ate at Quick, one of a chain of hamburger stores. Oh well, it was food, but not highly recommended by moi. Fast food may be fast, but it never seems to satisfy. C’est la vie.
In retrospect, we hadn’t done any homework or research on the area. For example, what is Toulouse famous for? Probably a cathedral or two; perhaps being one of the larger cities in France. We were unprepared, and if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Unfortunately when it has taken so long to get into a place, and so long to park, for such a little time, it puts you off somewhat, but as I said in the title, we had nothing Toulouse except time.
Last time we were in Argenton-sur-Creuse, in 2010, we took a road trip up to Le Mont St Michel in Normandy, a medieval town virtually atop a little island. Google it to have a look. Is this a case of history repeating itself? Perhaps, but you have to expect medieval architecture scattered across France, which is part of the charm of travelling all the way to Europe. Australia’s architecture is less than 250 years old, so even our old buildings are relatively new.
It all started off innocently enough. “Let’s drive up to Chateauroux.”
Great idea, but it became fraught with a triple whammy of complications:
1. Driving a different car for the first time (minor adjustment)
2. Driving on the wrong side of the road (major adjustment – as Australians use the left side, since we are one of England’s colonies)
3. Using our brand-new Tom Tom navigational system, which we had barely tried out in Melbourne, and suddenly we are supposed to know how to use it here. Fortunately the lady in the machine giving us directions kept her calm. At least that made one of us.
We can laugh now, but a couple of days ago it wasn’t nearly as funny. Dutchy has mastered the art of reversing. Taking wrong turns here is fairly easy, until you become accustomed to the way the signage operates. The arrows seem to point in a vaguely different direction to what you expect.
Before we even got onto the A20 to head up to Chateauroux the mood in the car became quite stony: his because he was not happy about turning the wrong way and having to reverse, and me, because of course I felt like I was unfairly getting all the blame. There and then I decided perhaps we shouldn’t be going on road trips together, when we had been having such a lovely time taking walks around Argenton, with no arguments. Trust a trip in the car to fuel a fight, or at least a stony silence.
However, we managed to get to Chateauroux safely, and even managed to find some free parking, due to the seasonal holiday of many businesses in France.
Coffee and cake, some retail therapy for me, with him tagging along helped alleviate the tension, and then a nice lunch at Patapain made the day improve further. I know which segment he preferred! We even broke our one-cake-per-day rule since it was our Big Day Out in Chateauroux, which is actually less than a half-hour drive from Argenton. It served as a good trial run to get to the station to pick up our Canadian friends in a couple of weeks.
Because the TomTom’s battery was running low, we had to find an auto shop to get a cigarette lighter connection, which he admits he didn’t bring to France. This was just outside Chateauroux near Brico Depot, a large hardware place similar to Bunnings, a home improvement DIY business. It took us a while to figure out they don’t seem to have actual driveways moulded into the kerb and channels. Rather, you just drive up over the shallow kerb, making it easy to miss the entrance to the place you want to go because there isn’t one. We managed to buy a cigarette lighter adapter, only to find that the cigarette socket in the car didn’t work when we plugged it in. Ah the joys of travel.