Travel Destinations in Languedoc France: Carcassonne France hotels, family vacation rentals in France

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Travel Destination - Carcassonne, France

Part 2
by Wade Rowland

Author Richard Halliburton blew in to Carcassonne late in 1921 on his first trip to Europe as a young Princeton graduate with literary ambitions, and he wrote about it in The Royal Road to Romance, the first of his five, wildly successful travel books. He was on his way by bicycle and knapsack from Paris to Andorra. The air at the foot of the Pyrenees was sharp and clear...

"Late on that glittering November evening I left the modern ville basse on foot, crossed the seven-hundred-year-old bridge over the river that separates the fortress from the modern town, looked up the sharp escarpment, and behold, before my eyes, nine centuries disappeared. I became an anachronism, a twentieth-century American living in eleventh-century France. In one sweep the Middle Ages were revealed. A magical moonlit city of walls and towers and battlements, defiant and impregnable, rose before me... Not a person was to be seen, not a light showed, nor a dog barked as I climbed the path and walked beneath the massively fortified gate, through the double line of enormous walls, into a strange world. Incredibly ancient houses, dark and ghostly, reeled grotesquely along the crazy streets. My footsteps echoed. There was no other sound..."

Halliburton spent the night exploring the city and eventually watched the dawn break from the battlements:

Carcasonne "A man appeared in the streets, and then another and another. I knew the hours of enchantment were gone. The ghosts of Crusaders and Saracens and Visigoths, which must have been abroad that night, had marched down the shafts of the ancient wells into the subterranean caverns, to watch over the fabulous treasures which any true native of the citadel will tell you lie buried there. With the night departed Yesterday. The real, unromantic present lived again..."

The "real, unromantic present" was where I was, seventy-one years after young Richard had dashed off those breathless lines, and I too was about to see Carcassonne for the first time. My partner Christine beside me, her legs aproned in a large-scale Michelin road map, I was approaching from the north at the wheel of a red, rented Peugeot, purring along undulating roads through the brooding forests of the Black Mountains and then across the flatlands of the River Aude on a narrow, shoulderless highway picketed with two-hundred-year-old plane trees, and finally on through the dusty streets of the modern lower town of Carcassonne.

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Travel Destinations - Travel reports from the world's best international travel and adventure travel destinations worldwide. Visit Carcassone, France with author Wade Rowland in this in-depth article.

World Travel Guide - Travel article about travel in Languedoc France: long-term vacation rentals in France, gite rentals, family holidays in France, Carcassonne France hotels, Cathar castles

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