Recently, I’ve been reading two of Ken Follett’s novels, Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. He sets the fictional story in a realistic Middle Ages town in England, which he calls Kingsbridge. Mr. Follett’s description of Kingsbridge Priory, the Earl of Shiring’s Castle, and the town of Shiring came to life for me today upon visiting Carcassonne, a medieval fortress town in southern France.
Carcassonne is located in the south of France about one hour from its border with Spain. Since about 700 A.D., the huge stone walls have provided refuge and fortification for various lords, earls and their serfs. It is surrounded by two massive outer walls with towers and barbicans, a moat, and a large drawbridge all designed to ward off attacks.
Inside the walls are the restored remains of a thriving medieval city. It is easy to imagine medieval life going on in Carcassonne. Merchant’s shops, pubs, craftsmen and noble houses are easily identified.
There is an inner close, a castle within a castle, where the lord of the town apparently lived. Enclosed within these secondary fortifications is a modest palace and church.
After touring the town, I decided to find a spot for dinner. After rewalking the town to assess dining possibilities, I referred to “TripAdvisor.com” and decided upon “Adelaide Restaurant.” The GPS feature on my iPhone led me directly to the restaurant, where I was lucky to get a table.
This being my first night in France, I was ready for their rich cuisine. I decided upon a fois gras starter with fig compote and greens.
My main course was their duck confit cassolette, which included a roasted duck leg and its juices, cooked in a pot with white beans and sausage.
Dessert featured chocolate mousse and rasberry ice cream. This was all washed down with a splash of the local red wine from Corbiers, just down the road from the restaurant.