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Canal du Midi Excursion: Carcassonne | Cruising in France

Cruising in France

...Travel blog about river and canal cruise vacations on luxury barges and riverboats

 

Carcassonne - Amazing Medieval Fortress

Written by Carolyn on April 1, 2009
Summary:

If you want to see one of the best-preserved medieval fortresses in Europe, a tour of Carcassonne is a must…

Among the most fascinating places in southwestern France is the medieval fortress of Carcassonne, a World Heritage Site. With over 50 towers and 2 miles of double walls surrounding the old town, the fortifications rise majestically from the surrounding countryside with its vineyards.

Carcassonne and Vineyards Carcassonne and Bridge Carcassonne Towers

Inhabited as early as 3500 BC, Carcasonne became an important trading center in the 6th century BC. Fortified by the Romans, the Visigoths, and later by Simon de Montfort during the Albigensian Crusade in the 13th century, Carcassonne was an important military citadel until the 17th century. By the mid-19th century, it had fallen into such disrepair that it was threatened with demolition. However, the fortress was eventually restored under the direction of the famous architect Viollet-le-Duc and is the most complete medieval fortified city in existence today.

According to legend, during an attempted siege of Carcassonne by Charlemagne in the 9th century, the city was saved by a trick of a certain townswoman. When she was told that all that was left in the way of food was a little grain and a pig, Madame Carcas fed the grain to the pig and threw it down from the highest tower in front of the invaders. Charlemagne assumed her action meant that the residents still had plenty of food, so he gave up the siege. As he and his men were leaving, Madame Carcas told the townspeople to ring all the church bells. One of Charlemagne’s men shouted “Carcas sonne” (Carcas is ringing), whence the name of the town.

Madame Carcas

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