Carcassonne Cultural Treasure Hunt

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A while ago, a very nice woman here in Carcassonne, Frédérique Planchons, devised a Cultural Chasse au Trésor, or Treasure Hunt, through the Bastide of Carcassonne. She asked me to translate her French text into English, and help with the layout of the tour booklet. She wanted English-speakers to feel welcome to discover Carcassonne.

I had met Frédérique when I joined AVF Carcassonne. AVF stands for Accueil des Villes Françaises, or Welcome of French Towns. The mission of this volunteer association is to help newcomers to the city meet other people, find support, and discover their new home. While most members are French, there are quite a few English-speakers who participate in the Carcassonne branch. For over a year, I attended French conversation and writing sessions at AVF. Frédérique led the writing class with verve, and we became friends.

Via the Chasse au Trésor booklet, I would like to take you on a virtual tour of the Bastide district of Carcassonne. For those of you who are working on your French, you’ll find the French and English text side by side. In case the individual pages in the post are hard to read, you can download the pdf of the booklet here.

Let’s go! Allons-y!

The map on the back of the booklet will be useful as you take your tour:

In the heart of the Bastide of Saint-Louis, created by the king of France in the 13th century, the Square of the Grasses, currently Carnot Square, was in the Middle Ages surrounded by half-timbered houses and was covered. It succumbed to the devastating visitation of the Black Prince in 1355 and the ravages of a fire the day after the visit of King Louis XIII in 1622. | The 18th century gave it a monumental fountain, called “Of Neptune” in white Carrara marble, sculpted by Barata and Sons. | During the Revolutionary period, on Liberty Square, not only was the Constitution declared but also the gallows were erected. | The Monarchy enhanced the west side of the square by building a handsome facade in the style of Louis Philippe.

In case you’re wondering about the answers to the 26 questions…

  1. At the time when Frédérique created the Chasse au Trésor, she linked the WiFi symbols with a temporary but notorious piece of public art in Carcassonne. Today, we have the added social-distancing circles. This blog post explains what she was thinking about.
  2. Ducks, chickens, sheep, geese, pigeons, fish…
  3. Rue Georges Clemenceau
  4. This statue is the oldest known statue of Saint Louis, dating from around 1320.
  5. 232 steps. (I had to look this one up on Wikipedia.)
  6. Pour favoriser le développement du commerce et de l’industrie en France. To promote the development of commerce and industry in France.
  7. Le Mans.
  8. The first time Mike and tried the Chasse au Trésor, we couldn’t find Saint Vincent-de-Paul. He is perched high above the square, concealed by the trees.
  9. Any of the Latin words will do. I have no idea what the inscriptions mean!
  10. The marble comes from Caunes-Minervois, which is about 30 minutes from Carcassonne. The rose color of the Grand Trianon at Versailles is thanks to the marble from Caunes-Minervois.
  11. Nougat from Maison Bor in Limoux (20 minutes from Carcassonne): sugar, honey, egg whites, vanilla, almonds, pistachios.
  12. An aggressive serpent, representing….
  13. Pélardon is a goat’s-milk cheese from the Cévennes region of Languedoc-Roussillon.
  14. Not counting the storefronts, 13. By the way, boulangerie on the ground floor, Papineau, is our favorite bread store.
  15. Cathédrale Saint-Michel de Carcassonne: about 80 meters above sea level. At the time of the original chasse au trésor, there was a sign in the cathedral, but it’s not there anymore. So, this answer is an approximation.
  16. 9,751 people from Aude died in the First World War.
  17. It was built when the Bastide was first established. The Black Prince razed the Bastide in 1355. The new Bastide was built on the ruins of the old.
  18. More pink marble from Caunes-Minervois. I’m afraid that I don’t know the answer to the question, “Why the two walled-up gothic windows?” It may have to do with the 19th-century restoration by Viollet-le-Duc.
  19. We’ve never found this park open to the public, despite what the city’s web site says. There are 14 stations of the cross.
  20. Collège André Chenier. A collège is a middle school.
  21. Just about any gothic church in Carcassonne!
  22. 3.
  23. The vines and grapes for which this region is celebrated. Ah, what a time: the name of the architect etched in stone on the main façade!
  24. The Easter Lamb; the Fortified Castle. Connecting the Bastide (the lower town) and La Cité (the upper town); they were for centuries at odds with each other.
  25. The same artist who created the mural in the train station: Jean Camberoque.
  26. L’Église des Carmes — from the start of our tour.

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