This day was the day we made up for missing Carcassonne. We were in the heart of Cathar Country – it is named so after a kind of inquisition period, where the Cathari religion was being exterminated. (Interestingly, the phrase “Kill them all, God will know his own” is traced back to this period.) The people often hid in local castles of sympathizers or built their own. These castles were also used later during the French and Spanish border wars, and you can see bullet holes and such. We visted four – Lapradelle, Peyrepertuse, Queribus, and Aguilar.
The most amazing part is just seeing for yourself what you already know from history – castles were built to be defensive forts, so they are placed at the peaks of mountain tops. And as such, the parking is in the valley, so you have to walk up an enormous hike to see the castle. The French also do not tarnish the experience with stupid signs and ropes to “protect” visitors – if you are going to fall off the obvious side of a mountain, maybe you deserve it? I dunno. Maybe its just that Americans really are that retarded in comparison? Its hard to say. But there was no litter, no graffiti, and it wasnt overwhelmed with visitors, and it was awesome.
Our last stop was on the Mediterranean Sea, just south of the Montpellier Airport, in Palavas-les-Flots. We stayed at Hotel le Brasilia, which was very sheek. From our balacony, we could see the beach. And of course, our first meal there had to come fresh out of the sea!
I also realized here, out in the middle of the french countryside, something that had been trying work itself out in the back of my mind – something was very different here than in the US, something good. And what is it? Well, there are no annoying bugs!!! No mosquitos, no flies, no gnats, i dont even think i saw a spider. The only bug i can remember was a bee. Everywhere you go, you see windows thrown open – no screens, not even at the hotels. You eat outside everywhere. We walked through the woods on several occasions. Nada. You can go to the riverfront in the late evening and nothing! Now that is a convincing factor in deed on living in France, dont you agree? :)