Here’s a picture of a building that we pass by at least twice a day but only recently discovered its real purpose. We figured that it was a mill since it sits just downstream from what used to be the King’s mills and it has an opening at the bottom that lets the water flow through the building. Since a tree is now growing out of that opening, it’s obviously not in operation, but its original sign is still in place and readable: Moteurs des Fontaines de la Cité, 1893. It’s a giant water pump!
I know it’s confusing for us native English speakers but Carcassonne is really two cities: the medieval fortress known as La Cité that, from its promontory above towers over the more modern-day city below called La Bastide where most people live and work. Although the Bastide is down on river level where it’s easy enough to obtain the water, getting that transported up to the castle above was quite a challenge until they built this pump house in 1893. How smart to use water to get water.
Up in La Cité we’ve been able to spot a couple of the original wells that must have been used for centuries before the water motors were put into place. A few of the fountains are still there too including this one right outside the main entrance near the drawbridge. Considering that this water comes, in part, from the melting snow on the Pyrenees Mountains, you can imagine how icy cold it is.