Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Our last day in Provence was May 8th a national holiday in France. They celebrate the end of WWII and every village, town and city, no matter what size, honor their fallen with a ceremony. It usually involves a band with the local officials making a speech and laying flowers at the war memorial that each community has. We were in small villages with less that 100 people and each had a memorial statute honoring the dead from both WWI and II.


While driving along we came upon this celebration in a small town, which the name I do not remember. Each organization would lay flowers at the monument and then the children would lay their flowers, after which the French National Anthem was played.

You can see by the umbrellas, that it's raining, something that's been occurring more often than not.

We next headed to Carcassone, primarily to see the walled city there. On our way to our B&B we crossed the Canal Du Midi and observed this American Flagged canal boat. It is a popular vacation in these parts to rent a boat and cruise the canal.

While visiting Carcassonne we stayed a a very nice B&B in Cabrespine, a very small village in the local mountains. We were greeted by Elizabeth, who speaks very little English. With our hand jesters and the use of a French/English dictionary we were able to communicate enough to learn about here home. The house, which is three stories has been in her husbands family since 1850. In more recent times it was used as their vacation home, but 5 years ago Elizabeth and her husband moved into the 3rd floor and converted the 2nd floor into individual rooms for the B&B. Breakfast was on the 1st floor where there was a very nice living room to relax in. The rooms were filled with antiques and old photos of the family. It was interesting to see a family photo taken in the late 1800's in front of the house, which looked the same today as it did then.


We visited Carcassonne which is a walled medieval city on a hill overlooking the new city below. The wall is 3 km around and encircles the chateau and the city. The site of the city on the hilltop is very impressive with it's guard towers and high walls. The city part of the interior is less impressive as it is full of shops selling basically junk and restaurants with over priced food. Plastic swords, miniature knights, and the same kind of crap you see at just about any tourist site in the states. OK for the kids, but boring for us. The tour of the chateau was OK, but the interior was devoid of furniture of the era.
Afterwards we went to the new city down below (old by our standard) and wandered the narrow streets. Much more interesting,



We next moved on to the Dordogne, a region in France filled with hilltop chateaus overlooking the Dordogne River Valley. The area is a lush green and famous for it's caverns, both geological and prehistoric, the latter with cave paintings dating back thousands of years. We are at a B&B owned by Ken and Linda, who after retiring in England, relocated here in the village of Carlux. It's nice to speak to someone who has a good grasp of the English language, but they do sound funny with that accent and all. It turns out Ken retired at about the same time I did and from the same profession. They are both a wealth of information about the area and very friendly. They can accommodate 7 people in their three rooms and have plans to expand their business with a Gite, an apartment for longer term rentals. I keep forgetting to ask for the translation of the name of their establishment, but when I find out, I'll let you know.
We're still having problems with the weather, but as with everyone we meet, Ken and Linda also tell us we should have been here yesterday.


It may be hard to tell in this photograph, but there are three chateaus on the right side of the river. Around every bend there appears another, some very large, others smaller, but all a sight to see.


After a great lunch and after the rain stopped we climbed the cobblestone streets to the chateau. We did not take the tour, as there are just too many chateau tours in the area. The view from the top overlooked the valley and the river below.

The is one of the many chateau that are occupied by the owners and not open to the public.

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