We continued our journey south through the French cities of Toulouse, Carcassonne and Perpignan.
If I’m being honest, Toulouse was our least favorite city on our honeymoon. Maybe it was because there was a cold snap and it was overcast when we arrived, or perhaps we didn’t find the “fun” part of town, but Toulouse was pretty boring.
We stayed at the budget Hôtel La Caravelle, which was conveniently located near the train station. Toulouse is known for its unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks, which earned it the nickname la Ville Rose (the Pink City).
While in town, we visited the Basillica of St. Sernin, a UNESCO World Heritage site designated because of its significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.
That evening we branched out from fancy French cuisine and ate fast food, which included bonafide French fries.
The next day, we hopped a train to Carcassonne (the city not the board game).
We stayed at the Hotel Astoria, which had an affordable rate and very pleasant staff.
The coolest thing about Carcassonne is its old-school fortified city. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the hilltop has been occupied since Neolithic times. Its strategic importance was quickly recognized by the Romans who occupied it until the demise of their empire. In the fifth century, it was taken over by the Visigoths who founded the city. It thrived as a trading post due to its location and saw many rulers who successively built up its fortifications until its military significance was reduced by the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. It was eventually restored to its current condition by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1853.
Next, we headed closer to the French-Spain border with a stop in the city of Perpignan. Oh yeah, and it was time to do some laundry.
As you look around Perpignan, it’s obvious you are approaching the Spanish border. The architecture and design of the city starts to look and feel more Spanish and less French.
We stayed at the Hôtel Aragon, which was clean and friendly. The staff gave us a map with local attractions, so we grabbed some gelato and took a walk around town to see the sights.
While Perpignan was very pleasant, we couldn’t hardly wait for the next leg of our trip: Barcelona, Spain.