Lannemezan seemed rather quiet as we left the town. As the drive was quite a long one we decided that we’d to stop off for a coffee at one of the towns en route. After parking up we walked into the town centre, only to find everywhere closed due to it being a local holiday for Pentecost, so we had to skip the coffee and continue on our way.
The aire at Mazères was really picturesque, and we parked up overlooking the river and a weir, with a ‘fish ladder’ to enable fish to swim upstream. Nothing in the village was open due to the holiday, so we made do with going for walks to explore the surrounding countryside.
We decided to stop the night at Mirepoix having read good reviews for the aire online. The aire itself wasn’t all that – just a glorified car park by a noisy road – but it’s literally a five minute walk into the medieval town square lined on all four sides by timber buildings. As it’s not on the tourist trail, it was not at all busy. After walking around the town we returned to the main square and spent a couple of hours nursing a couple of coffees whilst taking advantage of the free WiFi.
For our evening meal we returned to the square and found a traditional French restaurant, where we both opted for the magret de canard which was delicious.
Carcassonne is one of the places that was on our ‘must-see’ list before starting on our journey. It’s a medieval walled town perched on a hilltop, and from afar has an almost Disney-like appearance, especially at night when illuminated. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We parked the van on a pay-for aire, €14 for the night, and a 20 minute walk along the river to the gate of the old town. We somehow managed to take a wrong turn, and so it took us 30 minutes to get to the gate at the far side of the town. It was pretty busy, with lots of families out and about, so it must be half term locally.
The main attraction is the castle, but we chose not to stump up €9 each to go in. Instead, we went for a slap up lunch in one of the many restaurants, and then strolled through the narrow lanes and along the perimeter wall.
Once we were done we walked over to the newer part of town, Bastide Saint-Louis. First port of call was the Bureau de Poste to pick up another parcel sent using Poste Restante – this time a new protective cover for my phone which I’d ordered online. It really is a fantastic system.
After a walk round town we returned to the van for dinner, and then went back to Bastide to spend the evening enjoying a bottle of the red stuff outside a bar in the main square. Our walk back to the van took us past the illuminated Carcassonne… magical!
Today’s been a bit of an admin day today… food shopping, laundry, and the van has had a long-overdue wash. We’re on a pay-for aire where we had to pay an additional €4 to become members of a French aire company, which was a bit of a rip off, so we’ve made the most of the unmetered water and there’s good wi-fi, so it’s not all bad. By the time we finished our chores, we couldn’t muster up the energy to go into town, and tonight we’ll be taking full advantage of the speedy wi-fi. Tomorrow we will move onto Millau.