We entered France in a train and hardly noticed- it was late and they didn’t even check our passports. We passed beautiful coastlines and stations for Nice, Monte Carlo, Monaco. There was a bomb threat at Toulone, a station en route, and we were stopped for about 45 minutes, nothing came of it but of course France is on edge after recent attacks. We arrived after midnight to a somewhat quiet city. There were dancers with a boom box as we exited the station, they were doing robotic style dancing in a small group. The train was about six hours from Genoa to Marseille, a gritty town with a nice port (above, with bubbles) and lovely buildings but also beggars, more than we’d seen since India, litter, and some sketchy looking streets. We only stayed one full day and didn’t do much other than walk around. We saw a lot of nice details on the buildings such as gargoyles, ship bows, and all kinds of human figures. I didn’t take many pictures, but here I liked how the kids looked at a grocery store.
We took a train to Carcassonne, a medieval walled city with a restored castle, Chateau Comtal de Carcassonne. The lower city where we stayed was also quite old and we were next to a nice old church.
When we arrived, the locks for riverboats were in action right outside the train station as boats went through (above), in private boats and on group tours. There were also bicyclists and people in kayaks in the water. It was hot and sunny. We dropped off our things and visited the fortified city, which includes the castle.
Inside the walled city were many tourist oriented ships, restaurants, hotels, etc., even a youth hostel. The funny thing is, it reminded us so much of the renaissance fairs we have been to, which are of course modeled after this-an actual medieval city. Today, this city attempts to draw in visitors rather than repel invaders, and you can buy any number of items you might expect. This did not much interest us, being of small budget and limited luggage; touring the castle, though, is an authentic and unforgettable experience. It was renovated in the mid-1800’s after narrowly avoiding demolition. There is a short film describing ongoing renovation as well as a museum displaying objects from the area such as arches and Roman artifacts. Walking through the place itself is just wonderful.
Castle above and view of the lower city below:
Inside the Carcassonne Cathedral near the castle: