Carcassonne is a hilltop town in southern France that has a medieval fortified citadel called La Cite. The first walls were built in Gallo-Roman times and at its center is a 12th century castle. It is basically a town inside a medieval castle wall. It is open to the public and the only part you need to pay to tour is the castle proper itself. You can walk along the ramparts and city walls as well as inside the castle that is full of historical artwork. I imagine in the summer it is bustling with tourists sitting in outside cafes, having tea or coffee and snacks. We happened to visit in late November and so while shops were open it wasn’t very crowded.

We took a TGV train (the inner city train operated by SNCF) from Toulouse Mantabiau to Carcassonne, which took about an hour, and it was pretty easy after we learned to look for the right train (i.e. the train to Perpignan is what we wanted and just got off in Carcassonne), that and some help from Google Translate. We used the Omio app to buy our train tickets after doing some research and found it to work just fine. We then walked about 2km from the train station to the castle and meandered into the city via a less than well traveled path (thanks to Google Maps).

After touring the castle and walking around La Cite, we started looking for a place to eat. There weren’t a lot of places open (off-tourist season) but we settled on Chez Christine, which looked a bit posh for us but we stepped inside anyway. We ordered a charcuterie board and a glass of wine to keep it simple. It was nice and tasty and as we were eating I kept asking Casey about one of the cheeses on the plate, it was so tasty and it was a soft cheese. Finally, I discovered the harsh truth, that delicious cheese was BUTTER! Butter meant for the bread that came with the plate, butter that was no longer available for the bread because it was in my stomach.

That’s NOT cheese…

Let’s be honest, it was going to get eaten either way. I’m sure the waiter was standing around the corner laughing at me, maybe saying, “Américain stupide, mangeant le beurre comme si c’était du fromage”. Let’s just say we added to our family inside jokes on this day.

If you have the chance, you should visit Carcassonne and the city around it. It’s full of history from a time I can’t even fathom living in. And it has delicious butter.