Friday, July 25, 2014

Trip to Aude: Narbonne

The last three weeks of my stay in France. Blandine has taken off from work for all three of them, for the mother of all trips. Where do we go? Everything is on the table: Sensual Seville in Spain, A Grecian Odyssey in Athens, The London of Shakespeare and Wodehouse... The Moon? Nope, I plump for Cathar Country -- the département of Aude. Blandine votes for Seville. We check the météo. It'll be 40 degrees in the shade in Saville. As a suntanned son of the tropics that doesn't bother me, but Blandine goes into a tizzy. I win.

Aude and Languedoc-Roussillon have held a strange fascination for me, ever since I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and read of the mysterious Cathars. It is a region full of scraggy hills and menacing ruined châteaux with bloody histories going back to the dawn of time. Blandine leaves the planning to me. I come up with this ambitious plan, covering every mysterious place I could find in Aude...

Blandine smiles. On verra..., she says. Despite her skepticism, we do eventually manage to do a major part of the above plan, and a lot of other things besides, although we don't quite do it in the above order.

Trip to Aude. Day 1: Narbonne

The trip kicked off with a long drive down Highways A7/A9 to Narbonne. I hadn't planned much for the first day, since Blandine would be fatigued after the long drive. Just a couple of places in the city of Narbonne. Narbonne isn't terribly mysterious, but it is the logical starting point for a tour of Cathar country. The big attraction of Narbonne is its cathedral. More on that in the next post. The other attraction is the canal that runs through the city: the Canal de la Robine, which connects Narbonne to the sea. I am absolutely charmed by the canal. Flowers and boats and stuff. Here are some pics of the canal, and a couple of other minor attraction in the town center...

A number of stone bridges cross the canal, each one a little different from the other. This one has houses built right on it, à la Venice. The second pic is a narrow lane, which is actually the bridge (there are a row of buildings on both sides of the bridge, so it looks like a side lane than a bridge).

A little old church to one side: Église Saint-Paul de Narbonne. Not the famous cathedral. I have reserved that for another post. There was a concert of regional music going on at the time (Festival of Langeudoc-Roussilon).

The Archbishop's Palace (Palais des Archevêques), which doubles up as the town hall.

Halles - a historical covered market which still operates.

One last look at the canal, and Narbonne, before going on to the next stage (the village Gruisson) ...

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