Seeing the Oldest Building Ever

We were invited to a wedding today by a lovely young french woman who is marrying this Saturday.  We had to decline as we’re heading back to base camp this Thursday.  Drats.  This happened when the innkeepers had aperitifs at 7:30 (1930) and the betrothed showed up with a nice french homme (man) for drinks.  We don’t know how they were “related” but he was not the one she was marrying.  Confused?  So were we.

When we arrived at our B & B about 5:30 from Carcassone, we were hot and thirsty.  We presented our hosts with a bottle of rose champagne since we were staying here for two nights and our transplanted Irish hosts were so delightful.  Gee.  We hadn’t spoken this much english in weeks!!!

But I digress.  In fact, I think this is going to be another jump-around narrative because it’s late here and I’m jumping from thought to thought.  Which isn’t really that unusual for me.  But I still digress.

What a great day we had.  It started on the terrace in Lautrec.  Pictured above is the garden of the B & B.  Breakfast was fabulous…croissants, coffee, juice, yogurt, jams, bread and cake.  As soon as we checked out, we walked up the hill which is the highest place …and took these pictures.  The windmill actually works and it dates way back when (I can’t remember).  Then it was on to Thierny Besiers ( which we nicknamed Thorny Brassieres) which is very close to the Med.  We had booked two nights.  As soon as we left Lautrec, we passed a field of sunflowers and I just had to take a dirt road so that we could take the pictures below.  It was stunning.  As soon as we left the field, we drove along country roads lined with trees.  As pictured below also.

Opps.  I got ahead of myself.  Wanted to show you the pool in Lautrec and the host in his wine cave.  2000 bottles.  Fabulous.

The area is known for it’s rose garlic.  It’s the Gilroy of France.

Ray at the foot of the stairs that lead to the windmill.  Looking toward the Pyrenees.  Below, the windmill, view from the windmill, the sunflowers and the tree lined road.

Ray enjoying his first espresso at a sidewalk cafe.  A picture of a beauty salon window complete with pricing.  The far-away Pyrenees.

So, we’re sitting in a cafe in the middle of Le Cite (Carcassone fortress).  And we’re right next to a french couple.  He was a man of some girth, having polished off cassoulet for lunch along with a creme brulee, wine, coffee and lots of small brown cigarettes.  She was a blonde woman with a good smile.  He got up to go somewhere and I asked her, “Ou  est habitate?” (where do you live, Dianna speak).  She told us but I had no clue where it was.  Up nord (north) somewhere.  But that is all it took to get us started.  We had a great time “conversing”…and by the time we finished, we knew that he was a hunter.  He shot canard (duck) and several other things we had not a clue what they were…so after many attempts at translating one word, we shrugged … and she said, “Bambi”.  Oh, deer!!  And there were another two other words we didn’t know.  By this time the waiters had gotten into the act and one of them snorted, like a pig.  Uproarious laughter ensued.  Wild boar.  Ah, ha.  Everyone had a great time and we hugged when we left.  Another thing, our hunter was bewildered by the British.  He said they come to France to live and don’t engage with the french.  They stay to themselves and don’t live like the french, don’t learn the language.  He doesn’t understand why they move to France.  Interesting conversation all around.  They love Americans.

Here’s our picture with our french friends.

We were recounting our story to our new Irish friends, the host and hostess in Thorny Brassieres.  And Martin, the host, told us a similar story.  He was in a cafe in Italy and wanted explanation of a menu item.  The waiter tried over and over to say the word hoping that Martin would understand.  Martin couldn’t get it.  In desperation the “waiter practically did three acts from swan lake around the dining room table… flapping his arms and moving up and down”.  Too funny.  The word was goose!!

But I digress.

The fortress.  Fabulous.   The romans started the project when the number of years was less than a 1000 a.d.  Eventually the Cathars settled it.  There is so much history, that I’ll leave it to the reader to google it on their own if they want more info.  It was just massive and you could image the arrows being slung, the spears being thrown, and the hot oil being poured on those trying to advance up the wall.  Not to mention rocks and boulders being heaved.

This is a picture from afar.   Below a short film and then another picture of the of the inner walls.  Someone said, everyone should visit Carcasonne.  Great idea!!

This was our activity for the this day.  When we left there, we drove to Martin and Sile ‘s B and B and that’s when we got invited to the wedding.

We had a wonderful dinner on the terrace and spent our evening with our hosts and two of their friends from Ireland who were visiting on their holiday.  We had so much fun.  A whole evening of  Irish english!!  At 2300 (11:00) I excused myself.  Ray stayed on until mid-night.  Fun was had by all!!  And in the morning we were awaken by church bells.

Church bells are an interesting phenom here in France.  At Lautrec, there were at least 3 different sets that began clanging at 0700.  But they didn’t just ring seven times.  It went something like this:  ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.  Then just when you rolled over, another one went dong, dong, dong, dong, dong, dong, dong.  Okay.  That must be it.  But oh, no.  Then you had ding, ding.  Pause.  Dong, dong.  Pause.  Ding.  Pause.  Dong.  Long pause finally so you turn back over.  Ding, ding, ding.  At this point you are wondering…”when are these things going to STOP?”  Ding.  Pause.  Dong.  I imaged two religious orders competing for the last word, or the final word?  or, maybe…”I’m right”.  “No, I’m right”.  Finally they stopped.  And then they started up again at 7:30.  They were relentless.

Well, it was much the same in Thorny Brassieres.  Won’t bore you with the details.  You get the idea.  Other than to say, that the bells were not precise.  For instance, they rang sometimes at 7:02 or at 6:57.  It was silly and fun.

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