Today was the final day of our holiday. We had arranged with our landlady that she would collect our keys at 11:30 and then drive us into town to save us the journey with our cases. That gave us time for a leisurely stroll around Carcassonne again in the morning.
It proved to be delightful! There were no people around, which meant we got those normally busy restaurant areas and crowded narrow streets entirely to ourselves:
The bridge leading to the chateau looked beautiful in the light:
As did the countryside, which opened up to us as we headed out the Porte d'Aude:
The archways provided a beautiful frame:
And soon we were walking downhill towards the Porte Narbonnaise:
Looking back at where we'd just walked from presented us with a lovely sight too:
And soon we were approaching the lap, heading back towards the Porte d'Aude:
We were conscious of running out of time and knew that we would have to go into the town to find breakfast. That meant a walk downhill and across a bridge. It's normally only in fairy tales that you get the backdrop that we had on the Pont Vieux:
Breakfast proved elusive and we really had to penetrate deeply into the town until we found somewhere open. Breakfast was a simple affair; the breakfast option for Clare (an orange juice (to be drunk by me), a coffee, and a croissant), and a baguette for me. Paying for breakfast proved tricky, though. The man working there was a hard worker but a little slow on the uptake. I handed him 10€ to cover the cost (6€ for Clare, 3.50€ for me) only for him to try counting the items up individually. Unbelievably he came out with a smaller number than it should've been, even though you would expect the meal option to be cheaper than buying everything separately should be. I pointed this out to him so he said he would speak to the boss. Then he came back with a totally different figure, which I had to amend by pointing out that the orange juice wasn't a separate item but part of Clare's breakfast option. "It's six euros for her breakfast, plus three and a half for my baguette. 9.50€." Off to the boss he went, then he came back with a massive number, saying the the baguette I'd eaten wasn't part of the breakfast option, so it was going to cost more. "I know! There's one breakfast option. One! Hers! Mine isn't a breakfast option. It's just a baguette!" Then he started trying to count again and I had to help him. Eventually he hit the magic number 9.50€, and we were able to head back, a little behind schedule.
Still, a destination is always nearer when you know where you're going and before long we were walking back across the Pont Vieux and through the narrow streets. We knew we were getting very close when the end of the street looked like this:
We were back in time to shower and pack. As 11:30 arrived we said goodbye to our appartment with a shot of the view from the window:
And then we descended the stairs to wait for a landlady and say goodbye to the medieval town. And then something wonderful happened: The lady had taken a liking to us and so, instead of dropping us into town and leaving us with "nothing to do", she arranged with the shopkeeper next door to look after our cases, giving us the option of catching the shuttle to the airport from the car park instead. And just like that we ended up with a bonus four hours there!
And then we found a lovely little restaurant outside of which to eat:
And we helped ourselves to several pichets of wine there:
And that was the end of a lovely holiday, which was very, very relaxing. Although time didn't seem to lag, we kept catching ourselves by surprise by saying that "X was only a week ago" at different stages in it! I had the bonus of seeing some old friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in fourteen years, and Clare got to meet a Russian friend of hers who by coincidence had a few days in Toulouse which coincided with hers. We'll definitely be coming back and, as I said to my friends, won't be leaving it fourteen years this time!