May 30, 2006

Carcassonne in Carcassonne

CarcassonneSquared1.jpgTwo of us (and our better halves) just got back from a fantastic trip to France. We planned our trip over the course of a few months, and for a good-while we toyed over exactly where to go in Frogland. When we heard good things about the Southwestern region we started to take a closer look, and holy crap! Smack dab in the middle of Southwestern France lies a 'little' town called Carcassonne. Call us ignorant Americans, but we didn't know there there's a real town (still) with the game's namesake.

The place is gorgeous. The town's original inner and outer walls are still very much intact, and the 53 towers guarding the city were restored to their full height about a hundred years ago. We walked the mile-long route around the exterior three times in our two-day stay, and the jaunt remained a fascinating tour of medieval architecture each and every time.

The inside of the city is comprised entirely of old stone buildings, too, but it's scarred by the wall to wall tourist shops, and semi-good restaurants that have taken-up residence within -- which isn't quite the blast of the past that the facade is. Also, we've heard that tourist season hits the place hard, but thankfully early-May is a great time to visit if you want to dodge the sunscreened-nose masses.

Of course we simply had to break into the Infinite by playing Carcassonne in Carcassonne. We found an empty outdoor bar (again, off season == no tourists ) and setup shop for a few hours, enjoying a few rounds of one of the best games of all time while sipping some of the local drinks (the guys drank Leffe). It sounds dorky, but damn it was fun. On one side of us sat the actual old wall of Carcassonne's exterior defenses, while the city's Cathedral loomed over us on the other. You can't beat that for scenery.

CarcassonneSquared2.jpgHere are two unsolicited travel recommendations in case you ever end up in Carcassonne:

1: Only travel to Carcassonne in the off-season. The gorgeous cityscape wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable if it was flooded with swarms of stumbling tourists.

2: We highly recommend L'Echappee Bell Chambres d'Hotes as the B&B of choice. Great rates, good rooms, and one of the most delicious breakfasts we had on our romp through France. The Croissant is the ultimate gauge of a French breakfast, and this B&B doesn't disappoint.

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Posted by Critical Gamers Staff at May 30, 2006 12:36 PM

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