The view

Carcassonne Cité
Carcassonne Cité

Since the lease on our house doesn’t start until March 1, we’re spending a few days in a hotel that is located right beside the Aude River. That alone would be a nice enough location but as you can see from the accompanying photo from our room’s balcony, we have a great view of Europe’s largest fortress, known officially as the Cité. If this had been taken with a telephoto lens you could probably see the roof of our new place just below the turrets on the right.

At one of the going-away dinners that our neighbors held for us, the host’s son asked us what was the first thing we would do once we got to Carcassonne. In unison we replied that dinner on our first night would be at our favorite restaurant, Le Blé Noir. They specialize in crepes from Brittany but offer other choices including this area’s signature dish, cassoulet, to ensure that everyone will enjoy the meal. Their fixed price menu for lunch is 12.80 euro that includes your choice of a dinner crepe and a dessert crepe which may not sound filling but I have yet to be able to finish both.

Since our hotel room does not have a kitchen, we won’t be buying much this week from the market in the way of fruits and vegetables to cook, but we’ll still visit there each day it’s open just to become familiar with what’s being sold. In fact, we went there this morning, despite some incredible wind and rain, to discover a business-as-usual market crowded with buyers and sellers intent upon completing their Saturday tasks despite the weather. For breakfast we stopped into one of the many cafés that surround the square to have a traditional French start to our day with coffee, juice, and a croissant.

We have a rental car for another week, so before we switch to traveling only by foot we’ll visit all of the shopping centers on the fringe of the city with the first stop being a pet super store to load up on dog food. At a store called MaxiZoo we found a brand that says it is 95% meat and 5% vegetables so we purchased 9 cans (buy 6 get 3 free–always looking for the deal) at about the same price we paid for something similar in the US. Once we’re settled we’ll be using mostly dry food, which appears to be a bit more expensive than we’re used to, and adding our own cooked vegetables to Heather’s daily meals.

Jet lag took its toll on us last night and we didn’t make it out to Le Blé Noir, so we’ll be going there tonight, having made a reservation this morning as we passed by on the way to the market. The owner, a funny and welcoming man, remembered us from visits last year and continues to charm all of his customers as online reviews repeatedly confirm his position as the best restaurant in Carcassonne. The hotel restaurant here, only steps from our room, provided a convenient place for a delicious dinner with that same enchanting view you see from our balcony photo above.

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