Southern France and an amazing mid-evil walled city
01.02.2011 - 04.02.2011 44 °F
Hello from the South of France,
Well after three months in Paris we are on the road again. This time we are travelling to the South of France, Spain and Italy. We took the train from Paris to Toulouse where we enjoyed some wonderful food and some amazing sites. While there we took a day trip to Carcassonne where we visited the restored mid-evil walled city. It is said to be the best preserved walled city in Europe. Our plans are to travel by train from Toulouse to Barcelona where we will stay for four days and then rent a car to drive through Northern Spain, the South coast of France and finally return to train travel in Florence Italy. While it was very nice to be able to unpack and settle down for the holidays in Paris, it is now very exciting to be back on the road again seeing new places.
Let’s get to the pictures of Toulouse and Carcassonne…………
Below is the train station in Toulouse. Not best part of town but a beautiful building none the less.
Toulouse is a beautiful old city with many small streets and alley ways to explore. Below are a couple of photos of some places as we were walking about.
Next we visited the basilica of Saint Sernin. It was an amazing building with an open bell tower above the main alter that looked to rise about 7 stories above the roof of the church. The foundations of the basilica date from the 4th century and Charlemagne donated many of the relics to the church.
Below the main floor of the basilica was a very elaborate crypt that housed many remains as well as a number of these very detailed chromed wooden sculptures.
In the main square of Toulouse there was a building that we believed to be some sort of city administration building named “CAPITOLIUM”. As we were walking through a courtyard (shown in the first picture below) Susan just stepped inside an open door and we discovered some very ornate ballrooms shown below.
Next we visited the cathedral of Englise des Jacobins which is known for its large vaulted ceilings with contrasting arches. The building dates from the early 13th century but has not been as well maintained as many other churches we have visited. We ceiling arches though were very unique. These all seemed to come together at the main column near the front of the church. The last picture was taken looking up but I thought it was interesting they also had installed a large mirrored base at the bottom of the collum so you could see it without looking straight up.
Next we visited a Musee des Augustins which was originally a large mansion build in 1309 as an Augustinian convent but after the French revolution was opened as a museum in 1795. It houses many amazing works from all the masters as well as many small sculptures. Unfortunately no photographs are allowed inside the museum but here are a couple from the courtyard as well as the main tower as seen outside the building.
Next we visited the Pont Neuf Bridge. This very unique bridge was started in 1544 but for some reason took over 87 years to complete. The bridge is not symmetrical and the openings in the center of the pylons were supposed to represent the face and main of a lion (as we were told) but frankly I don’t see it.
The next five pictures were taken at random as we walked about town. Very neat walking city with a lot to look at and a long history.
Next we visited the Cathedral Saint Etienne des Toulouse which has large flying buttresses. This church also dates from the 13th century but is in serious need of renovation. We did discover some amazing wood carvings in the building which can be seen in the pictures below.
The following day we took a day trip by train to the city of Carcassonne which is home to what is said to be best preserved mid-evil walled city in Europe. It was amazing! The history of the city is unique and tells stories of battle, siege and politics over the centuries. The structure itself has been modified and changed many times over the years depending on who was in power at the time. Its main renovation to the state we see it today occurred in the late 1800’s but the history of the changes to the building have been lost in two separate fires that burned almost all historical documents of the building. More recently computer modeling has been employed to better understand how it might have looked at different times. There is no way the very few pictures here can show just how cool it is to walk around this walled city. You feel as if you are living in the 12th century as you experience it.
Finally for my funny street scene……. as we were leaving Carcassonne there was this Asian martial arts group that were climbing one of the outside walls so we watched for a moment . The wall they are on is about 60 – 80 feet above the ground and only about 2 feet wide while they were doing poses and martial arts exercises on top.
Next we are off by train to Barcelona Spain for a few days to have some tapas, sangria and (hopefully) find a place to watch the Superbowl. Until next time………..Au Revoir.