Episode 24 The Bastille

Storming of the Bastille
Storming of the Bastille

The Bastille

In today’s episode we talk about an area of Paris that has enormous significance in French history, yet only lives in our memory: La Bastille Saint Antoine. Elyse tells us who build La Bastille, what it was for, and how it became so important in French history. Voltaire was imprisoned in the Bastille, along with a lot of other famous and important people over the years. In this episode, we also talk about Bastille Day, a wonderful celebration all over France and how you can participate if you are in France this week.
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Carcassonne France, Episode 23

Carcassonne France, Medieval Jewel in the Southwest of France

Carcassonne France

How much do you know about Carcassonne? Are you thinking about going to see it for yourself? I have to encourage that because what a place and what a story!

But be warned: it’s a touristy place. If you go without any preparation, you might be there with bus-loads of other visitors. Listen to this episode where we share all the secrets to a great visit to Carcassonne.

Let’s start with this fact: Carcassonne France is the largest intact medieval walled city in all of Western Europe. It is like walking into a medieval dream. And because it is so stunning visually, it attracts a lot of visitors.

Are terrible crowds in Carcassonne a fatality? No. Choose your day and if you can’t choose the day, at least choose your time. The crowds are only there for a few hours a day.

And, whatever you do, listen to the story of the Cathars and how Raymond Roger Trencavel became a local hero fighting a cruel northerner named Simon de Montfort.The story will make the city come to life for you!

In this episode we also explain how the Walled City fell into disrepair and would have been dismantled were it not for the efforts of Prosper Mérimée and Viollet-le-Duc.

Are you ready for a world-famous local specialty? How about some local wines? It is all in this episode on Carcassonne France.

And if you’re in France with children, we can guarantee that it will awake their imagination and they will want to play knight and damsel. Nothing says that adults can’t do the same.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: the walled city of Carcassonne is a UNESCO world heritage site, because there are few places in the world where old stones and history collide so beautifully.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

Episode Highlights

  • What is Carcassonne?
  • How big is it?
  • Where Is Carcassonne?
  • Historical Background
  • Roman Times
  • Carcassonne France today, the climate and industry of the modern city
  • Hôtel de la Cité in Carcassonne
  • The Cathars
  • The Count of Toulouse
  • The Cathar Religion Takes Root in Occitania
  • What Is the Cathar Religion?
    • The Cathar Consolamentum
    • Aristocratic Women and the Cathar Movement
    • Cathar Geographical Expansion
    • Simon de Montfort, the Vilain
    • The Crussade Against the Cathars
    • No Water within the Walls
    • Trencavel, the Hero
  • Carcassonne After the Cathars
  • Carcassonne Gets a Second Set of Ramparts
  • The “Lice” in Carcassonne (FYI, nothing to do with head lice!)
  • Carcassonne Becomes Part of the Kingdom of France
  • Carcassonne the Impregnable City
  • The new city of Carcassonne
  • The Walled City Falls to Ruins
  • Prosper Mérimée and Viollet-le-Duc Save Carcassonne
  • 1850 Renovations of Carcassonne
  • Back to the Hotel de la Cité
  • Tips on the Best Way to Visit the Cité de Carcassonne
  • Entrance to the Medieval City of Carcassonne Is Free
  • The Shops in Carcassonne
  • The Secret of the Wall
  • Conclusion

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Episode 22 Canal du Midi

Bridge over the Canal du Midi
Photo Peter Gugerel

The Canal du Midi is a wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site and Europe’s best engineering achievements of the 1700s. This long-awaited canal was designed to open up the landlocked area of Toulouse to commerce and make it possible to go between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean without going all the way around Portugal and Spain.  The man who designed the Canal du Midi and carried the project, Pierre Paul Riquet, was a man of the Enlightenment who brought human as well as technological innovations to the Southwest of France.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

By now, the Canal du Midi is not as vital to commerce as it once was, but it has not lost any of its charm. Amateurs of slow travel take cruises on the canal by the thousands each year, and many more enjoy walks and bike rides along its beautiful banks. You should definitely include a stop on the Canal du Midi next time you visit Southwestern France!

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Continue reading Episode 22 Canal du Midi

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