France 2014: Road Trip – The Long Way Round

If we hadn’t taken a roundabout scenic tour, we would never have stopped at a little “aire” (parking area accessed from the autoroute) to obtain these photos.

Carcassonne from afar

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Leaving the aire

Leaving the aire

I love the way the signs in France have a big red line across them to indicate you are leaving an area.

France 2014: Road Trip – More of Carcassonne

La cite de Carcassonne at night

La cite de Carcassonne at night

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.

A medieval mecca for tourists

A medieval mecca for tourists

Maison du Cassoulet

menu

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!

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Carcassonne

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.

Carcassonne early in the morning

Carcassonne early in the morning

Carcasonne

Carcassonne

And finally, the street that had been bursting with tourists had a greater sense of history in the morning in its stillness.

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France 2014: Road Trip – Nothing Toulouse Except Time

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.

crazy parking in Toulouse

crazy parking in Toulouse

a better choice of parking

a better choice of parking

Try this parking area rather than Victor Hugo   in Toulouse

Try this parking area rather than Victor Hugo in      Toulouse

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.

Quick lunch in Toulouse

Quick lunch in Toulouse

A Quick Burger 

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.