As we bid adieu to the Spain, we shortly pass the somewhat ambiguous country line into France, and it is incredible to note the almost immediate difference in the countryside. Lush and green, rolling mountains and beautiful fields of lavender and sunflowers, we were able to enjoy little medieval villages that dotted the horizon all around.
Although the day was mostly for travel, we had the privilege to stop in the town of Carcassonne: a perfectly preserved medieval village that felt like something straight out of the movies (or imagined by Disney). Surrounded by a moat and two thick, stone city walls, and a draw bridge, this fortress was am impenetrable force which carried our imaginations back to the times of fairytales, dragons, and mystical powers.
The history of Carcassonne is a long one, but the most famous moment of the city’s existence came when Charlemagne tried to penetrate the walls of this great city. For five years the fabled hero waited with his men outside the walls of the city, hoping to starve the people within their own fortress-and they were succeeding. The poor and wealthy alike were at the point of starvation in the city when the Grand Dame, Lady Carcass, devised a brilliant (but risky) scheme: they were to find a pig, and feed the pig with the remaining wheat of the village. Once fattened, they launched the pig over the walls of their kingdom. Convinced that they had plenty to eat, to the point they could pitch a fatted pig over their walls, Charlemagne order his men away from the city. As they retreated, in the distance the bells of the city sang into the heavens and Charlemagne proclaimed this place “Carcassonne” for the sounds of Carcass, in honor of her lady and the bells of celebration that followed the defeated forces.
If the saying “history is where we find our answers” is true, than everyone should know France and visit the village of Carcassonne, a symbol of strength, cunning, and endurance for all man. Beyond its beauty there is a spirit that still inhabits the streets of this walled kingdom, where people can still find a piece of the past, waiting to be again uncovered.
Our community was a part of this history, although just for the afternoon, and each person had the free time to see and experience this place in their own way. The past reflecting in our present was a wonderful introduction to our time in France, and it will be incredible to see how this contrasts our experiences in Spain.