the layers of carcassonne

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Our 1st month in Carcassonne is done: it’s time to give an overview of Carcassonne & our life so far i. e. how we manage to adapt to life in the Mediterranean area – in general & in winter.

Yes – it’s winter.

To be honest I hadn’t expected temperatures around 0° C … from what I had read so far resp. what climate tables presented. Well: we had pullovers & coats & whatever is fine for staying warm & comfortable. When arriving for the next fortnight temperatures were about 10° – 15° C: fine – we enjoyed walking & exploring Carcassonne. Then temperatures dropped to about 0° C. So we limited our walking trips … grey skies all day long, rainy, snowy. Now we seem to approach the temperature region we had beforehand. We are looking forward to sitting outside again having a noisette & some sweet delicacy.

If you order a café it’s an espresso. If you order a noisette it’s an espresso macchiato. Easy to learn – and noisette is always great.

I really like my coffee in the morning & some espressos during the day. Unfortunately our kitchen is not equipped w/ an automatic coffee/espresso machine – as we use at home . So we rely on our French Press which accompanies us when traveling & creates really good coffee (but unfortunately no espresso – not to mention any foamed milk).

Coming back to Carcassonne …

The heart of Carcassonne is La Cité, the medieval town and fortress on a hill overlooking the rest of Carcassonne and the valley. The fortress is elaborate and forceful – La Cité was never conquered during about the last 700 – 800 years. Of course it took some hundred years to achieve the impregnable status.

Today La Cité is part of the UNESCO World Heritage, however far from a museum. People live & work in La Cité. There are restaurants – from a Michelin starred restaurant to snack bars at all price ranges.

There is also an impressive cathedral, Saint Nazaire et Saint Celse, dating back to the 6th century, which is since about 200 years only a basilika. A church outside La Cité then became the cathedral.

Then there is an area submontane of the medieval fortress w/ lots of ancient homes (& modern homes), restaurants, brasseries, bistros, cafés, bars … Submontane Carcassonne starts immediately outside the walls and the former moat.

At the moment – I think due to the winter & the hibernal temperature – most of these food sources are still closed (as well as in La Cité).

We are living in this area. When having arrived we started looking for some basic shops like a corner shop, a bakery … Unfortunately these elementary providers are rather scarce. So let’s move on …

Walking down the hill & through submontane Carcassonne leads you to the L’Aude, the river of the valley. There are bridges … especially an old bridge Le Pont Vieux reserved for pedestrians. After having crossed the bridge you are in La Bastide or lower city, established during the Middle Ages, today the modern part of Carcassonne.

It’s the home of bakeries and pastry shops, cheese shops, butchers … small, but very nice & offering excellent food. There is also a small market in the city centre each Saturday morning. We found a lot of shops we liked at once, however, when shopping delicacies it’s always about 1 hour (at least) before back home. (… always remember: there is an extended lunch break in Southern France – starting at 12:00 h up to 16:00h!)

La Bastide is also the home of La Cathédrale Saint-Michel – and there is a square in the middle of La Bastide w/ restaurants, cafés … scattering their small tables & chairs in the sun. Beginning of January when it was still warm we enjoyed sitting there for a while for a nice glass of red wine.

… & of course there is the urban hinterland of Carcassonne with hypermarkets of any kind. We soon found out that this urban hinterland is inevitable – we make a car trip once a week to a hypermarket to stock up on basics.

So what about cooking & baking?

We rented a very nice home for our traveling in Southern France, however, unfortunately the kitchen in our home is tiny & marginal equipped. (Almost at once I thought: Forget about baking!) Cooking is some sort of challenge, but cooking for my food blog would be more than a challenge. So … I decided to postpone any new recipes & concentrate on streamlining my food blog.

Still there are some issues from the last year … with the size of my food blog (as well as w/ upgrading to the new WP editor) which can be solved – to a certain extend – by reworking posts. During the next weeks I’ll focus on anything appropriate for living in Southern France when re-engineering existing posts. Maybe I’ll also create some ideas about a new layout for the blog … Let’s surprise ourselves!

So concerning shopping: a fresh croissant in the morning means about 30 min walking, any food (i. e. emergency shopping) of the corner shop means about 20 – 30 min, shopping delicacies (i. e. cheeses, wines, pastries & tartlets … ham …) means at least 1 hour. Ok – our daily training & intake of fresh air therefore is always assured.

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keep it simple & be flexible. always.