Castles and fortified cities are notorious for dotting the European landscape, which is not to say that as Americans we have grown immune to their beauty. We still find ourselves smitten at the sight of castles perched high on hills; a novelty coming from our young country.
Last year we traveled to the Toulouse area of Southern France over the Easter holiday. We rented a modest converted house that once served as a pig farm, centrally located in a rural village. The house provided the ideal location for day trips to local towns, historic landmarks, rolling French hills and of course, Carcassonne.
The sight of Carcassonne immediately captivated us as we approached this remarkably well-preserved fortified city by car. Impressively huge and beautifully positioned, Carcassonne is the second most visited landmark in France, after the Eiffel Tower.
According to the history of this elegantly fortified city, in the 19th century, the medieval town was scheduled to be demolished, but was restored by Eugène Violet-le-Duc in 1853 and in 1997 went on to become part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Carcassonne is a city rich with history, tiny shops, restaurants, churches, hotels and stunning gardens. Plan to spend a few hours becoming acquainted with the area. Tour the city with an English-speaking guide, which will bring the city to life for both adults and children. Then take your time meandering slowly through the quaint streets with an ice cream in hand exploring the area and the beautiful churches.