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France: Languedoc (January 31, 2002)

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Carcassonne is a big castle with walls that all the way around it. Once we arrived, we parked the car outside and walked into the castle over the drawbridge. We had to stay to the sides of the road because there was barely enough room for a car to drive down, let alone a car and a pedestrian.

We found the Chambre d'Hôte that we were staying in, and then unpacked all our things-this was a challenge because the Chambre d'Hôte was only one room and a bathroom. We settled in and then discovered that there were only two beds; we finally figured out that the last bed (for Joss) was underneath mine. Then we started looking for the kitchen. It was behind a closet door and was so small that you couldn't even fit a chair in it.

On the way in from the main gate, Joss had seen a plastic sword in a shop. Now he kept begging for one every time we passed a shop on our tour of the city:

Joss: I want a sword!
Mom: No Joss, you don't need one.
Joss: Why not?
Dad: We could get you a sword…
Joss: Pllleeeeaaassse?
Me: Maybe, Joss, maybe…

On our walk one of our missions was to find a place to eat dinner. After a while we decided on a certain restaurant and continued on. We stepped in at a pâtisserie to buy something for Joss and me to eat for a snack.

As night fell, we went back to the restaurant we had decided to eat dinner at only to discover that it was closed. Dad noticed a sign that said it opened at 7:30. So we went back down the street.

We decided to go to le vieux pont (The old bridge), which was outside of Carcassonne. We went out the back gate and walked through the hilly terrain next to the wall, with no real idea where we were going.

We met two people and asked them, in French, if they knew the way to the old bridge. The answered, in very rough French, yes, and then, much to our surprise: "Do you speak English?" We said yes, and then we re-asked our question and they gave us directions.

We headed towards the town, and passed another shop. A few "May I have a sword?"s later, we arrived at the old bridge. We looked around and took some pictures of Carcassonne and then headed back. It was 7:00 and we still had half an hour to kill.

We re-entered the back gate and, very luckily, found a restaurant that was open. We went in and ate, and when we were done it was nearing 8:00. We retired back to our Chambre d'Hôte and snored the night away.

The next day, Joss had new energy and was asking, "May I have a sword, please please please please?" with such ferocity that Mom and Dad finally bought him one. I also got one, even though I didn't need one.

Joss (leaping on top of Mom): Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!
Mom: It was Dad's idea, not mine.
Dad: Mom talked me into it.

As we walked around the castle walls, Joss kept attacking me with his new sword. We ended our walk at the parking lot in the castle that we had parked our car in (we drove the car into the castle on our walk the night before) and packed the things we needed for the drive that day.

Our first stop was Quéribus, a ruined castle that is at the top of a mountain. We began walking up, and soon we got to the wall. Mom (who is scared of edges) didn't want to go any farther, so Joss, Dad and I continued by ourselves.

I saw two people who were sitting on the outside wall, having a picnic. If they got pushed over on the wrong side, they would fall about 700 meters (2000 ft) down to the mountain's base.

We saw a dungeon; an archery room, where archers would shoot arrows out of the slits in the walls; and a church with fancy pillars.

The next place we went to was Peyrepertuse, another castle that is on a high mountain. We saw another old church and got a great view of the area.

The next day we left Carcassonne and went back to Crest. The two castles, Quéribus and Peyrepertuse, I found very interesting, but Carcassonne felt like Disneyland, because of all the shops.


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