Thursday, October 27, 2011

France - Collioure and Carcassonne

I didn't want to move today.  I was so ill last night, and all I wanted to do is lie in bed.  But we had a rental car to pick up, and more travelling to do, so I sent Anne out to get some Immodium and Paracetomol, and I loaded myself up on that.  Managed to pack, walk to the train station and catch our train to Perpignon.  It was still warm on Spanish soil, but once through the Pyrenees and out on the French side, the weather was definitely cooler.  I was surprised how quick it was from Girona to France.

We arrived in Perpignan at about 10.30.  Our car hire was at the airport but not until 1pm.  We thought we may be able to pick the car up early, so headed for the bus stop.  The only bus going to the airport drove straight past us, so we decided to get a taxi instead.  The driver told us that the airport was closed until 2pm, and the Hertz office wouldn't be open until then either.  We were a tad annoyed that the office hadn't let us know when we booked the car!  The good thing about our Taxi Driver was that he was wearing an Eden Park jersey, but he was still going to support the French!  Sigh!

We got to the empty airport and sat down to wait.  I wrote out some postcards, but at this stage they'll be coming home with me as I still haven't been able to find a post office.  I curled up and slept on the seats like a worn out traveller.  Even managed to sleep a little!

We finally picked the car up, got the GPS working, and drove out to Collioure, a little town in the very South of France....  The weather wasn't the best we've had but the town was really pretty...

Collioure has always been coveted because of it's opening to the Mediterranean Sea and it's two bays were easily defended.  Many Phoenician, Roman, and Greek sailors left behind a very rich archaeological heritage. In 673 Collioure was occupied by Wamba, King of the Visigoths.  He named the place Caucoliberis (Port of Elne), which confirmed its importance as a trading port.

From 981 on, the counts of Roussillon and the kings of Majorca began to develop the town, and build a fortress which was used as the summer residence for the Kings of Majorca from 1276 to 1344.

Throughout the entire 13th century, many crusaders passed through (eg the Knights of the Templar order in 1207, the Cistercians in 1242 and the Dominicans in 1280.)
The discovery of America in the 15th Century led to the progressive decline of the Port of Collioure.

From 1462 to 1493, Collioure was under French occupation during the reign of Louis XI. In 1642, after the Catalans had freed themselves from Spanish supremacy, Collioure fell again into French hands. During that period, Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), a French officer who built fortresses under Louis XIV, altered the fortifications giving Collioure its current appearance. Through the Pyrenean Peace Treaty of 1659, the Roussillon definitively fell to the French crown.

We didn't stay long in Collioure - just long enough to take a few images, before heading to Carcassonne.  We were late because of our hold up waiting for the car which was disappointing.

We then drove to Carcassonne where I laid my eyes on my very first medieval castle!  Despite feeling terrible (high temps, aches and pains), I was in awe and happy to walk around within the castle walls!

Carcassonne is a fortified French town in the province of Languedoc.  It was founded in the 5th century by the Visigoths, although the Romans had fortified the settlement earlier.  The fortress was thoroughly restored in 1853 by the theorist and architet Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, and was added to the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.

 We wandered through the narrow cobblestoned alleyways....

 We found Anne's favourite shop which had lots of sweet things in, including Olives below.  I did try one but they must be an acquired taste.  Either that or I was too sick to appreciate them...

 These are the cookies Anne loves.  They are filled with different flavours and are extremely yummy.  Anne bought a number of different types, and proceeded to eat half of each one so I could try each flavour myself when I was up to it.  There's nothing like opening a bag of half eaten cookies!  I  didn't manage to eat many of them!!!

 There was a beautiful cathedral in the middle of the castle walls...

 As we left the turned the lights on....
We then drove to our hostel in Montpellier.  The GPS kept us driving around for an hour before we realised that the hostel must be in a pedestrianised area, so parked then car, then used the GPS to walk us to the hostel.  I slept extremely well that night and woke up a lot better the next day.

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