That one time we had a castle to ourselves: visiting Carcassonne in the off-season

That one time we had a castle to ourselves: visiting Carcassonne in the off-season


One of the highlights of living in Barcelona is our proximity to France. To this Californian (who spent many a Thanksgiving driving nine hours from SD to home) a three-hour drive through beautiful Catalunya is a tiny jaunt, and the time is filled with “oohs” and “ahhhs” as we pass little adorable villages, all of which make me want to stop, and eat, and stay, and get my car stuck . . .

That happened. In Ille-sur-tete. Oops.
That happened. In Ille-sur-tete. Oops. Welcome to Europe: the place with tiny towns that have roads so tiny, you need to suck in your stomach just to walk down them.

For the husband’s big 4-0, we decided to make the most of our Barcelona locale and visit a highly popular tourist location: Carcassonne. Who knew it was more than a board game? Just kidding.

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View from the balcony of our apartment? Doesn’t suck! Actually . . . it doesn’t even look real!

Carcassonne has an incredibly high level of tourist traffic during the warmer months, but during November, it was a ghost town castle. Seriously. We bundled up, ventured around the castle at night, and did not see a single soul. It was one of those eerie, where-the-heck-are-we moments where we felt transported back into time, and insanely lucky for the opportunity. Not a bad way to spend your 40th, eh?

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Well hello there, castle.
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I know you’re singing the “Game of Thrones” intro right now.
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It was frio.

Of course, all that walking around left us hungry, and we stumbled upon a modern restaurant–run by young, sweet, and eager twenty-something–that was a strange juxtaposition to our surroundings. The decor was modern, but the food? As French as you can get.

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Obvi we had the frog legs.
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Snails. But of course. haha

Carcassonne was more than just a beautiful excursion that turned into a trip back in time. It was also a reminder that sometimes, the best season to travel is the off-season. On our walk from our apartment, across the bridge, and up to the castle, we passed HUGE parking lots. We imagined the place packed with tour buses, and hordes of people packing into the small medieval church and wandering through the cobblestone streets. Would Carcassonne lose its appeal among so many people? Probably. After seeing it in all its isolated glory, I’m not sure I could imagine it any other way.



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