Just the other night we were walking home from dinner with friends at a ski resort and realized just how lucky we are. Something about that sentence doesn’t sound right. Walking home, yes. Dinner with friends, certainly. Lucky, definitely. Ski resort, not exactly. As you’ll be able to see in the photos below, Carcassonne is decked out in its finest for the holiday season. There are four major centers of lights and attractions around town plus plenty of side streets and shop windows that echo the excitement. The city has constructed a giant scaffolding structure at Place du Géneral de Gaulle, on top of which is a chalet-style restaurant and stationary ski lift cable cars with dining tables inside that would fit right in on a mountainside in the Alps, hundreds of kilometers from here, but we had a view of the medieval walled Cité with Père Noël pointing the way. The best news for us? Everything starts about a 10-minute walk away from our front door.
Our wanderings around town began 5 stories above the ground at the Rooftop bar and restaurant where we were treated to a great meal and a magnificent castle view. From that vantage point we could also see the procession of arctic animals headed towards the Jacobin city gate. To walk off the foie gras and the Rhum au Baba from dinner we went to Square Gambetta that is anchored by the Museum of Fine Arts and currently by a giant fir tree surrounded by wrapped gifts and a snowman. The square’s own permanent trees were adorned with lights as were the walkways.
From there, we took to the sidewalk along the central driving street, rue de Verdun that welcomed us with an electric “Magie de Noël” banner directing us to Place Carnot that the market normally fills. For the month of December it welcomes the wooden chalets of the Christmas market and a giant ice skating rink. Now heading home we followed the pedestrian walkway towards the canal and train station to Square Chenier and its Parc de Père Noël. This magical evening started at a restaurant 5 stories above the city so why not end it at the same height on the giant Ferris wheel? What a Merry Christmas!