Carcassonne

09 Aug 2017

Shopping in Carcassonne

Felix El Hage went to Carcassonne with €100 spending money. Here’s what he bought.

1 HUMOROUS RED-AND-WHITE STREET SIGN

This random, faux-metal street sign reads: “Je stop la clope demain.” Perfect for sticking on your kitchen wall along with all your other pledges, it translates as: “I’m quitting smoking tomorrow.” Well, it’s a common phrase, but kind of appropriate down in the southwest of France, since most of the locals I met in Carcassonne all smoke like chimneys!

€3.90

2 SOUVENIR KNIGHT MODEL

Any medieval town where lords and ladies of the castle once ruled, and knights roamed the lands, is worth a souvenir or two in our opinion. So what better gift than a model of a local jouster in full armour, bearing a shield with Carcassonne’s colourful coat of arms. Something for the children to play with when you get back home. Castle not included.

Castle not included.

€5.90

3 OLIVE OIL DISPENSER

This decorative vessel features Carcassonne’s famous La Cité (medieval city) printed on it, so you can savour your memories of the town.

€12

4 JACQUES FISSELIER VIOLET LIQUEUR

The house of Jacques Fisselier, liqueur and fine alcohol purveyor, is known for its luxurious drinks the world over. The Petites Douceurs (“little softnesses”) range includes this violet liqueur, which tastes as you’d expect – like alcoholic flower juice. Not bad at all. Visit
www.jacques-fisselier.com

€5

5 YVES THURIES CHOCOLATES

Master chocolate maker Yves Thuries made his first gourmet chocolates in 1968 in the southwest of France, and by 1976 had won the coveted “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” award twice for his confectionery creations. Today he is a hero in the area, and Carcassonne houses one of his numerous stores. This luxury selection was just too good not to buy.

Visit www.yvesthuries.com

€17.90


6 POSTCARDS, MAP AND CITY GUIDE

Some postcards to send home, a local map and a detailed colour guide are all essential when you’re in a town with one of the best-preserved fortified medieval cities and fortresses in the world.

€1.75, €6.60, €5.90

7 PROVENCAL LAVENDER SOAP

Another local favourite in the southwest of France is soap, and this olive oil, vegetable and lavender number from Durance en Provence is one of many available in Carcassonne to keep you clean and fresh.

€3.90

8 PROVENCAL COOKING HERBS

Love food, must use great herbs for cooking meats, fish and soups. Although in Languedoc, Carcassonne has plenty of “herbes de Provence”, a mix of rosemary, bay leaf, basil, thyme and marjoram.

€3

9 MASSIVE ATTACK CONCERT TICKET

Bristol’s finest trip hop/reggae/ funk band hit Carcassonne’s magisterial, open-air Théâtre Jean Deschamps last month. Find numerous other concerts in August and September, by visiting www.carcassonne.org

€36

10 L’INDEPENDANT

Any prolonged stay in a relaxed southern French town leaves lots of time for reading the newspapers in your hotel. This one features the ins and outs of small town life, from parking disputes to protests, as well as an events guide.

€0.85

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05 Aug 2017

Scotland – A Very Stunning Sunny Surprise

I have to admit that I was somewhat reluctant to visit Scotland on holiday. I had visions of pouring rain and mists of midges. My husband, a keen walker who had been to the Highlands several times before, managed to twist my arm though and I am incredibly glad that he did. I don’t think I ever before enjoyed such a week of glorious sunshine and spectacular scenery, not even whilst visiting more exotic locations.

Starting Out

My in-laws (father, mother & sister) also came with us on this May trip and so it was decided that we would drive from Leicester (where we live) to a self-catering cottage we had hired for the week on the shore of Loch Leven. Loch Leven is a 30 minute drive from Fort William, a town that stands in the shadow of Ben Nevis; Britain’s highest mountain.

The drive was epic. We set out at 8.30am and did not arrive until after 5pm that evening. A combination of incredibly winding roads in the highlands and my father in laws aversion to over-taking really slowed us down. My advice; fly. The views along the way somewhat made up for the lengthy journey. The thing that most jumped out to me was how very blue the lochs were. Not Mediterranean turquoise blue but sapphire blue; dark, cool and majestic.

When we did arrive it took us a little bit of time to find our cottage as highland post codes and Sat-Navs don’t work that well together. Our cottage was right on the shore of the loch with the lounge area affording us the most beautiful view of the water and the surrounding mountains. We settled in quickly and were soon walking around the water’s banks and enjoying the tree swing adjacent to out cottage.

Ben Nevis

I wish that I could say I climbed Ben Nevis during our visit but the closest I came was a cable car to the half-way point and a cup of tea in the visitor centre. On the day we visited (the day after our arrival) there was a mountain biking competition taking place and from the cable car we could see helmet clad racers hurtling down the mountain beneath us. This was extremely entertaining to watch if not a little frightening. It wasn’t the best day weather wise and of course it got colder the higher we ascended. Fortunately the sunshine came back out when we came down the mountain and firmly kept his hat on for the rest of our trip.

The Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig

Whilst the men folk went off to climb a mountain, we ladies decided to take a trip on the The Jacobite steam railway. The route runs from Fort William North West to Mallaig. It is often cited as one of the most beautiful railway journeys in the world and I can honestly say that it did not disappoint. The route was first opened in 1901 to try and open up the rural western highlands. The seats on the train were very springy and not the most comfortable but added to the feeling of being transported back in time. The views did not stop from start to finish of the 84 mile round trip. The highlight for me was definitely the Glenfinnan Viaduct which is famous for its appearances in the Harry Potter series and other films. The viaduct has 21 arches and is incredibly impressive. People were hanging out of every possible window in order to photograph it, myself included. We stopped at the village of Glenfinnan, where the train was piped in by a bag-piper.

It was nice to be able to get out and stretch our legs at this point as we had been sitting for a fair while. It was quite a quick stop and we were soon approaching the fishing village of Mallaig. The key here is to get off the train as quickly as possible to try and find somewhere for lunch. We moseyed along and ended up having to try 3 different places before we could get a table. We finally found ourselves in a sea food restaurant eating yummy smoked salmon and prawns which we topped off with a walk along the sea front. By this time we had used most of our 1.5hour stop over and so headed back to the train for the return journey. Overall it was a fantastic way to spend the day and is a journey I will remember for many years to come.

Oban Colosseum

The Oban Colosseum (or McCaig’s tower) is not one of the most talked about highland attractions but I found that it held a real charm and walking through it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip for me. The tower is 200 metres in circumference and sits astride Battery Hill overlooking Oban with views out to Mull, Lismore and Kerrera. There is a very pretty garden and lots of benches within the tower walls. I was quite mesmerised by the combination of light and shadow that fell over the garden thanks to the huge arches within the walls.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan is a picture perfect castle that features on many Scottish postcards, shortbread tins, tea towels etc. It is one of the most visited attractions in the highlands and sits on a small island on Loch Duich. It is connected by a bridge to the mainland.  When we visited I felt that it had a real eeriness about it, due I think to the low Loch water level which revealed a marshy bed around one side of the castle. There is a banqueting hall, kitchens, bedrooms and a courtyard to explore. It was not quite the sprawling grand castle that is normally visited. It was compact, dark and very much built for defensive purposes as opposed to grandeur.  The surrounding scenery was beautiful and, as a bit of a history buff, I very much enjoyed learning about its part in the Jacobite Risings during the 17th & 18th Centuries.

Overall, the Highlands were a real surprise to me. There was so much to see and do and the weather was absolutely brilliant for the whole of our trip. We just about managed to escape the midges, who surfaced on the last day but by that point we were packing up and ready to head home.

Vicky is a keen travel enthusiast whose favourite destinations include Belgium, Greece, Madeira and, of course, now Scotland! This year she has plans to visit Italy. In her spare time she enjoys reading classic novels and watching Frasier.

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01 Jul 2017

The many benefits of traveling

Traveling has many benefits itself. It helps us to understand the different culture, discover different places meet new people, cuisine, and lot more. Traveling is a relief from the monotonous life. It helps people forget the fatigue of long hours working and leading a busy life. People who you are explorers, travel different places to find different things.

People can enrich themselves by traveling different places. But traveling is expensive most of the time even when you’re able to get great deals on cheap Bangalore To Delhi Flights. That is why people often can’t visit their desired places because of the high cost. Moreover, it is hard to match the schedule for making a perfect plan for traveling. However, it is better for physical and mental health to travel across the countries when you get the chances. You can save money all year round to make a perfect trip with your family and loved ones. There are actually a lot of benefits of traveling. Few of them are discussed below.

Rejuvenate your mind

People are too busy nowadays. They always run for work and don’t get the little time for their own. The normal weekend can be spent by arranging small hang out or going for movies or a picnic. These are not enough to make anyone stressed out from their regular and busy life. Traveling makes people active. People go for traveling for a long time. In this time they can get some time for themselves. Without any work and stress, they can lead a life to lie a free bird. It vanishes away all the monotony from the life, gives the strength and power to go back to work with full force after finishing the traveling.

Explore new places and people

You can explore different places and meet new people of the new places which are very exciting. Traveling is not only site seeing or spend your time in a hotel room. It is the opportunity to meet with the new people and make the new connection. Go visit some museums. Go take in the sights. Go kayaking on the lakes. Grab a pair of hiking boots ( we recommend Gravity Defyer shoes. Check out some g defy shoe reviews) and climb some mountains.

Taste different cuisine

Every country has their own cooking culture. Every country or place has their special cuisine which makes them different from the others. By traveling around the world, you can taste different types of the cuisine of them. It will be treated to your taste bud and a completely different experience each time.

Know different culture

Every country has its own custom and culture, and people of this country maintain this. You will get to know the different culture of the people by traveling different places. Some country’s culture is so different and appealing that you can enrich and broaden your perspective knowing this.

Make the relationship stronger

If you are traveling with your loved ones or family, then it is time to make your bonding strong with them. It is the time when you can dedicate your full time to them. So, don’t miss it. Enjoy as much as you want.

So, these are few benefits of traveling and every one of us should travel to different places around or across the country couple of time each year.

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