Yesterday we jumped on a train and meandered (hmm, not quite an appropriate term given how fast the trains are here) towards the coast, through Sete, Narbonne and another place I can't remmber and then inland to Carcassone. The weather was truely vile, completely misty and catching a glimpse of La Cite from the train as we approached was not to be. In fact, even walking through town, it was some distance before we caught our first ghostly glance of the city on the hill.
Wandering through the village itself was lovely - coming up on the market was something else again. The array of produce, even lettuces alone, in such variety, and all so inticingly lush. Mmm. I marvelled at the quantity and quality and longed for similarly jam-packed markets at home. Perhaps I need to start growing some things myself. We certainly have the space for it.
We tasted and purchased some quite devine sheeps milk cheese - not to be kept in the fridge, but on a shelf, wrapped in a damp cloth! Very very very tasty. :) We polished off most the $28 (yes, 14 euro) last night with a delciously fresh baguette - ooh incidently, when asked if you want the baguette cut or not, this apparently does not mean sliced, just cut in half. :-) So much to learn.
The pears also charmed us with their delciousness and we wandered out of the market towards the old city munching crunchy fresh pears. Fabulous.
With the walk as always punctuated by the urgent exclamation 'shit' in warning of piles of steaming dog-do on the footpath, we continued the hike (and yes I do mean hike) up to La Cite. The river was very pretty, although once again, very much shrouded in mist.
Eventually we got a view of the city, and continued to climb. I can see why the chose the spot they did to build it - very much a commanding spot. The Lonely Planet had made comment that the city loses it's mystery and charm once you enter the gates, but I have to disagree. The cobbled streets and ancient buildings were fantastic, with the roadways meandering with no apparent purpose or direction leaving you to discover new and unexpected sights around each corner. Ok, admittedly the vast majority of shops were either tacky souvenir places (but only on the main road on they way up to the castle) or eateries - which we were later suprised to be turned away from 2 of due to being fully booked! I suspect however that it would be a far less pleasant place to be in summer when crowded with visitors. Even yesterday there were a fair few people up there, however we arrived early enough in the day for it to be reasonably peaceful. Simon explored through the castle while I kept the pidgeons company in a little park, so I'll leave it to him to extrapolate on that if he sees fit.
We probably took a good 45 minutes to find somewhere to have lunch that actually had a free table. Finding somewhere that had cassoulet on the menu proved to not be a problem at all - every restaurant in Carcassone seems to do cassoulet.
So yes, we had cassoulet for lunch. Delicious! Although I'm sure we had a weeks worth of fat in that one meal! I thought I'd heard a rumour that duck fat wasn't too bad for you, but I seriously doubt that. But yes, we are pleased to have finally found and eaten a cassoulet. Creamy and rich, smooth and delicious to the last bite. Yum!