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From Wine Tasting to Carcassonne, France

A really big castle on a hill in the middle of nowhere.

Day 18: Last full day in France today.  And I was just getting used to the language.  I think I understand about 1/4 of the things people say around here now.

We will be in Carcassonne this afternoon.  But first, after winding our way through miles of vineyards, we stopped for wine tasting (before lunch!) at Le Pech d'André winery.  The woman from the front cover of our tour guide was there in the flesh to guide us through their various choices.  I liked the white wine the best.  Altogether, we each had 4 glasses of wine.  Before lunch.  They did however give us bread with olive paste as a palate cleanser.  And, sitting on the fence in the open right next to us, was a rather loud cicada.  I finally know what these things really look like.  A bit uglier than the ceramic ones.

Lunch was a picnic amidst peacocks, dogs, school kids, and loud bugs.  The food was very good, though; and there was plenty more wine as well.  Then the official group picture on the steps of the winery, with flowers blooming over our heads.  We smiled through 13 cameras (taken by the nice assistant from the winery), and the wine probably helped a bit.

No one was awake when we arrived at Carcassonne.  I wonder why.  I was one of the few who wandered into the walled town without taking a nap first.  It was hot (although cooler near the stones) as I walked the outer wall.  I also visited their church, the gift shops, had a strawberry snow-cone, and took a French tour of the "chateau" which allowed me to walk the inner wall.  I almost didn't make it back in time for dinner, though.  This place is huge.


Darting in and out.

The swallows fly close, silly birds.

Time unravels, and the castle closes around me.

Mighty stone cools the hot evening air,

As I walk the wall and see far and free.

Dinner was in an air-conditioned restaurant, and was our last dinner with Raymond, our driver for the last 15 days.  He gratefully accepted our thanks in that stolid but pleasant manner of his, and wished us well for the rest of our journeys. I got a free half-bottle of wine because I sat next to Raymond and the guides paid for his dinner, the wine included.

After dinner, we walked past the brightly lit castle walls to a bridge which overlooks the city.  The walled city seems to float in the sky above everything else in its floodlit glory.

To bed.  1 night in a room shared with Santos [in the Hotel Montmorency].

Click the pictures for enlargements.

For high resolution photos, go to my Online Photo Album hosted by Fototime.com.

Wine Guide
The woman from the front of our tour guide book

Finally got a shot of one of these things (he's about 2.5 inches long)

Behind the winery

The Real Group Photo
We're all smiling now

Dinner in Carcassonne
In honor of Raymond

Carcassonne at Night
Lit up and floating above town

Farewell Raymond
Click on the projector to see the group saying goodbye (warning - large file, 1MB)

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Unless otherwise noted all text and images are copyright Robert Williams.

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Last updated 11/12/2005 .  Email me at bob@besttravelbarcelona.com.