This weekend a good friend came from Lyon to visit me here in Carcassonne; she arrived with the preconception that it was a quiet and beautiful town and left feeling that whilst it was beautiful it was drama-central!
The Friday night we went for a quiet meal and had an evening of catch-up on each other’s lives, it was nice. The Saturday we let ourselves wake up naturally, got ready, went to the boulangerie, bought a beautiful cake each and then sat on a bench to watch the hustle and bustle of the Saturday morning market. (When I say “watch the hustle and bustle” I really mean I spotted a man that I would quite like to marry and set about creating plans on how I could make that scenario come about). About half way into our cakes a man walks buy, apparently hears our English and back-tracks a few steps. “You speak English non?” “Oui, nous sommes anglaise”. Error. He plops himself down on the bench next to us and drawls on at us in incomprehensible English. We tell him we don’t know what he’s saying so he drawls on at us in almost incomprehensible French instead asking us if we’d like to spend the last day of our holiday with him (okay, we lied, he doesn’t need to know I fully live here!) We turned him down and he replied “ah dommage” and wandered off. I’m pretty sure he was stoned.
After that minor incident we headed up to La Cité and did some shopping. We found a lovely little restaurant and decided to have lunch. I chose this as my time to have my first taste of traditional Carcassonian cassoulet. It was so amazing that right now I am craving it – who craves cassoulet at 7pm? Me, that’s who!
We finished our afternoon off with a nap which saw us into the early evening, we then got up, got ready and headed to a friend’s for pre-drinks before heading to our local bar. As we got to the bar we saw that one of the windows and the window in the door were smashed as we walked in we were told by the barman to be careful of the glass and that he wasn’t serving drinks for the moment because they were just waiting for the police. As the police and the firefighters arrived, took statements and carried a man away on a stretcher, we were filled in on the story. I’m not 100% sure what the reasoning was behind the attack on the bar but metal bars were used to smash through the two windows by men who were angry about something thus injuring one man and shaking up many others. When the police left the bar was back in service and we ordered a drink, sat ourselves down around our normal table near the window and assured my visiting friend that this was not a regular occurrence in Carcassonne. No sooner had we maid that claim there was sudden smashing noises, I could feel liquid splashed on me and without even realising it we were all darting to the back of the bar. The violent guys had returned and were lobbing glass bottles of some sort of liquid at the windows and the front of the bar. We were so lucky that one didn’t come straight through the window near us and injure us – from where I was sat I could’ve been badly hurt, as could most of the other people sat around the same table. Shaken up wasn’t the word! The landlady had tears in her eyes, the police were called again and the bar was closed and we were sent away… reassuring my friend, encore une fois, that Carcassonne is in fact quite a tranquil town. I’m not sure she believed it though.
Definitely my most dramatic weekend in Carcassonne!