Greetings from Sarlat-la-Caneda,
We just got back from Carcassonne and it was really nice. The castle was really interesting. The first wall was built by the Romans about 2.000 years ago and different groups made improvements to defend the city. In the 12th century the town protected the Cathars, a religious sect that critisised the lavish spending and corruption of the Catholic church. The Pope then called on the French king to stop the Cathars and forgave any sins committed against the Cathars. In 1226, the city was besieged and annexed to the king of France; the castle was then fortified and used as a strategic barrier between France and Spain. The fortifications were strong enough to deter any invaders from attacking, a threat that was no longer serious after the Spanish border moved farther West in 1659. The castle then fell into disrepair before it was restored in the 19th century.
It's an amazing town because of it's ancient history, but it has another interesting, more recent fact. It was the setting for a film that my brothers and I watched for hours as children. Any ideas? The film was set in England, not France and the courtyard in the picture above looked a lot bigger in the film.
The old city was also fun to walk through and had a lot of interesting shops. For dinner we had Cassoulet, a stew with white beans, fois gras, sausage, and duck. It was quite rich and we couldn't eat it everyday but it was very good.
I will put some pictures on Picasaweb later this week so check for that. I'll leave for Wageningen tomorrow morning and will have exams Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thanks for reading, Andrew