Carcassonne in winter...

This is our third winter in this beautiful part of France, and our first full winter living in Carcassonne, after two years in the Minervois on the plain. And yes, it’s been cold here too! 😉

In recent weeks, the peaks of the Pyrenees and the Montagne Noire were covered in beautiful snow, but yesterday was a rebel day: the temperatures rose to 16C here in Carcassonne, and up to 25C in the plain of the Languedoc. 'Tout le monde' (everyone) was outside walking, sitting in cafés and just soaking in the the sun.

View towards the medieval Pont Vieux and citadel

River Aude
We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon walk up to la cité with our dog, to enjoy a small bottle of rosé on the large food square, Place Marcou. And it was heaving there. As the sun set over the buildings, the crowd moved with it. At first, one particular restaurant was full of people, but later, new arrivals picked their seats in the sunshine, and so another place got all the business. Fun to watch...

The river Aude was still high, probably from melting snow and recent heavy rains. It was close to the edge in places where we walked, so hopefully it won't flood soon again.

Now, as I dive back into my time-slip work in progress, Love Lost in Time, set in and around Carcassonne, I couldn’t help but wonder what view my fictional heroine, Adelaïs, would have had on her arrival in late 774. The chateau, of course, wasn’t as big, but a small keep existed in Carolingian days, likely surrounded by a palisade. (Even the Romans had appreciated the region, and particularly its temperate weather for wine-growing.)

View north towards the Montagne Noire

The popular tale of Dame Carcass ringing the bells ('Carcass sonne') against Charlemagne’s advance into Septimania, which is told to tourists, however, is more likely to be derived from a later period, probably as part of the regular 'slagging off' of northern French influence over this sunburnt and fiercely independent region. The Languedociens never took kindly to their northern 'overlords’.

With Adelaïs arriving from the north and marrying Bellon, the first (real) count of Carcassonne and Razès, I'm exploring the views and impressions she would have gained. At that time, during the 770s, the region was only just recovering from decades of warfare. Caught between the Aquitanians and Basques from the west and south-west, and the Moors pushing northwards along the east, the local Visigoths didn’t have an easy, calm life.

So I’m using Love Lost in Time to redress the wrongs a little, and show the gradual rebuilding of the area under the influence, and with the protection, of the Franks. Agriculture and wine-growing returned, and Bellon took no small part in the re-emergence of such a pivotal area.

I'll be sharing a new excerpt soon from Love Lost in Time, but in the meantime, find further reading here!


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