|Porte Narbonnaise, the main entrance|
Hubby and I have been living in Carcassonne since early 2018. A town of two sides – the ancient citadel (la Cité) with its castle, and the lower town (la ville basse) – it is just small enough to be able to wander around and discover hidden gems.
The hill the citadel sits on was already occupied during the Neolithic period, its elevated position allowing for sweeping views over the plain below. With sweeping views towards the Pyrenees to the south (beyond the rolling Corbières hills) and the Montagne Noire (southern end of the Massif Central) to the north, it was a great defensive site.
|View westwards, to where the église Saint-Gimer replaced a medieval barbican|
In the dying years of the Roman Empire, the Goths arrived and began to settle. Septimania – as the region west of the Mediterranean Sea was then known as – was officially ceded to them in 462.
In the early 8th century, the Franks began to expand from the north, and the Saracens from the coast and south of the Pyrenees. Eventually, in the late 750s and early 760s, the Franks tried again under Pepin the Short (le Bref) who was more successful in pushing the Saracens to the fringes of Septimania. It was in the late 8th century that Bellon, the first count of Carcassonne, existed. Very little is know about him, but he was likely of Visigoth stock. I took the liberty of creating a life for him in my dual-timeline novel, Love Lost in Time.
|Wall paintings from the times of the Trencavels|
|They depict the town's history, showing Franks as well as Saracens.|
|Map of the citadel and the lower town created by Louis IX|
Throughout the centuries, Carcassonne retained its important as an outpost against invasion from the south, but the Treaty of the Pyrenees conveyed the Roussillon area to France, and the town's usefulness declined. It began to fall into disrepair. By the mid-1800s, the government wanted to demolish the site, to great complaint.
|Tour Wisigothe, also known as Tour du Four St Nazaire|
Nowadays a Unesco World Heritage site and tourist magnet, Carcassonne is still an incredible place to visit. I'm fortunate enough to be able to walk up to la Cité for a stroll, lunch in the sunshine or just relaxing with a leisurely glass of wine or two, people-watching.
Love Lost in Time is now available on Amazon in ebook and paperback formats.
|Entrance to the Château Comtal|