Sometimes I realize that life is REALLY full of surprises. Especially, if I simply happen to be checking out Ryanair’s offers and realize that my favorite place of Earth, France, is inviting me directly and indirectly: I’ve been daydreaming about French wine and baguettes and now, to my surprise, a ticket to my favorite place costs only about 450 kr both ways. How wonderful is that?
France has always amazed me. It is such an elegant and magical place. Elegant people (oh, that French beret!), French architecture (mmm..), French wine… Besides, French people seem to be talking as if birds were singing, French cuisine can offer more than you have ever dreamt of, and, most important, South of France about ninety percent of all time can amaze visitors with its mild weather. Having been witch-crafted for ages I simply have to come back to France as often as possible, otherwise I start missing the whole charm too much. This time, my lust for France led me to Carcassonne and Toulouse.
Carcassonne is said to be one of the finest and most interesting towns in France. Since it has a long history that takes over 3000 years back BC (the first signs of settlement in this particular place have been dated to about 3500 BC), it could be interesting to visit the city if you can call yourself a history lover. I must admit I have heard about Carcassonne from a friend of mine, who had been there a couple of times and has never been disappointed of what the city has to offer. If you are not searching for crowded nightclubs but would rather prefer a cosy, relaxing atmosphere – Carcassonne is a great place to be.
Carcassonne is a relatively small city, with only about 50,000 inhabitants. The city became famous in its role in the Albigensian Crusades and was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997 and it welcomes about 3 million visitors anually. Basically, it is a castle-city where castle is the main tourist attraction, where tourists from all around the world can visit a castle-city (yes, there is a small city in the castle itself), purchase some souvenirs and dine out in the open. Yet if you are looking for a non-touristic coziness, I would definitely advice a walk around the city enjoying a freshly baked croissant and a cup of coffee in a local café or a bakery.
Carcassonne is a romantic medieval city with a lovely castle and a couple of breathtaking views. And, since motorway A61 leads directly to Toulouse, I thought it could be a good idea to explore a little larger town.
Toulouse, another medieval city in southwestern France, is much larger compared to Carcassonne. One can find nearly half a million inhabitants in the city and over a million including suburbs, and therefore Toulouse makes a fourth largest city in France. Toulouse is a beautiful historical centre, and, without a doubt, is one of the most vibrant cities in France. One can enjoy a variety of activities over there: both seekers of relaxing holidays and city-lovers would find something to enjoy.
The city has a number of cozy parks where one can enjoy great weather and delicious ice-cream, sold by local sellers. Probably the most important building in the whole Toulouse is the city’s Capitole building, with the typical pink stone of Toulouse’s buildings. One can find a number of cafés around Capitole building, yet I personally found that food over there was overpriced compared to other local places. If you love shopping, you will definitely adore the center of Toulouse, where you can visit a number of shops. If you are interested in visiting Toulouse’s market out in the open, you should definitely do so during the weekend, where you could purchase fresh foods as well as cheap clothing.
Another small thing that I absolutelly adored is, that you can rent a bike at any one of bike stations for only €1 day. Renting a bike is a good option if you want to save some money yet want to see the city.
Don’t forget your camera and some small coins that you could throw into one of Toulouse’s fountains – believe me, you WILL want to come back…