Adventures Ashore: Carcassonne

Today, we’ll be visiting a city that was conquered and occupied by the Romans, the Visigoths, the Saracens and finally the Franks. Inside the medieval walls, we’ll see more than 2,000 years of history. Let’s explore Carcassonne.

A stone replica of the Lady Carcas welcomes you into this UNESCO World Heritage fortress.

Although she was likely a fictional character, the legend goes that Carcassonne was under Saracen rule in the 8th century when Charlemagne’s army attacked the gates to reconquer the city for the Franks.

Because of Carcassonne’s fortifications, however, the siege lasted for five years. Early in the sixth year, food and water were running out.

Lady Carcas, a Saracen princess who ruled the Knights of the City, made an inventory of all remaining reserves and came up with a ploy. She asked the villagers to bring her a pig and a sack of wheat. She fed the wheat to the pig and had it thrown from the highest tower of the city walls.

Charlemagne lifted the siege, reasoning that if Carcassonne had enough food to feed a pig wheat then throw it over the city walls, that the city had enough food to continue resisting the siege.

Happy that her plan succeeded, Lady Carcas sounded all the bells in the city.

One of Charlemagne’s men then exclaimed: “Carcas sonne!” — which means “Carcas sounds,” giving the city its name.

I certainly enjoyed my time within in the city walls of Carcassonne. I could feel the city’s 2000 years of history, and I think it’s something you’d appreciate. I’m Ralph Grizzle, and I’ll see you in the next beautiful destination.

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