Our 2012 Cathedralquest to France day 19 was spent visiting cathedral at Carcassonne and stopping at Limoux and Mirepoix before arriving in Toulouse .

FRANCE 2012

Carcassonne to Toulouse

Day 19, Friday, Sept 21

Unfortunately our day started a little early.  The phone in our room rang at 5:00 am.  No one was there when we answered it.  About 10 minutes later, it happened again.  We figured it must have been the last personís wake call that had not been cancelled; however, either one of us went back to sleep but we didnít get up until about 8:00.  Breakfast was nice in a beautiful old room.  Our hotel was part of the original buildings inside the old "cite" walls.

 

BASILICA OF ST. NAZAIRE AND ST. CELSE

 

The weather was very overcast and looked like rain, and it was cold.   We wanted to see the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse before leaving so we walked several blocks to it.  The first church there dates back to 925. The present church can be divided into two parts: the Romanesque nave dating from the 11th and 12th, and the Gothic transept and choir dating from the 13th and 14th century. The Basilica was a cathedral church until 1801. The fate of the Cathedral parallels that of the fortress ,as the lower town grew in importance so the importance of the upper town or the Citadel declined. It was quite large on the inside with beautiful stained glass windows.

 As we enter the Romanesque nave, we find massive columns consisting of square appears flanked by four half columns and of massive circular pillars. The nave consists of six bays. The transepts and the choir have pointed arches in the sanctuary vault looks as if it is supported by stained-glass windows. There are 22 statues dating from the first quarter of the 14th century attached to the columns of the sanctuary. There is an arcade running around the sanctuary, which is roof by pointed arches supporting the stained-glass windows of the choir. There was a quartet of young men singing-  they sang a couple of very nice tunes.  About 15 minutes later they started again.  They had CDís for sale but we didnít buy one. 

 We went back to the hotel and checked out.  The little van picked us up, and took us down to the parking lot which was another exciting adventure that made us happy that we didnít try to drive in the Cite.

 Our plan for today was to head further south into more of the Cathar country.  This part of France borders Spain and the Pyrenees mountains. Near Limoux the weather began to clear some. Our first stop at 12:30 was in small town of Limoux the population of 9800.  We drove through some very narrow streets and found a parking lot.  The town had a very large church, with a wonderful spire, right on the town square.  It was locked so we couldnít get in. 

There were several cafes on the square Ė which was the scene of a market of purses, fabrics and other things.   We each had a quiche and salad and a delightful sidewalk Cafť with a view of the many activities taking place in the market.

We drove from Limoux to Pamiers.  The scenery was unbelievable plus the weather had cleared and we rejoiced in nice blue skies again. We went over another mountain on a narrow two lane road.  The vistas were breath taking.  

We soon arrived at a little town, Mirepoix, which has a population of 3,000.  We had read a lot about Mirepoix in our readings on the Cathars. In the 13th century, many Cathars settled in the town of Mirepoix, including the seigneur, Pierre Roger de Mirepoix who played an important role in the defense of Montsegur during the 1243 siege. However, in 1209 Simon de Montfort had handed the city over to one of his lieutenants, Guy de Levis. Shortly thereafter Mirepoix was devastated by a flood from a nearby lake. Jean, the son of Guy de Levis, rebuilt the town in a safer place and built the bastide we see today.

 We found the Cathedral of St. Maurice , with a wonderful Gothic spire which was begun in 1343 and finished in 1865.  The cathedral was located on the town square. 

 

There was restoration being done.  The nave, which is 16th century, is the widest (104 feet) of any of the French Gothic churches.  It felt really large, huge!  It was quite beautiful on the inside with many colorful stained glass windows.

 

 

On one of the side aisles was a display of six wooden models of the various stages of development of the Cathedral of St. Maurice.  

 

 

 

 

The town square and surrounding streets were very picturesque with the building  painted in light shades of pink, blue, greens etc with old wood shatters and some decorated iron balconies.  It was one of the prettiest little towns that we have visited. It looked different than anything we have seen in France. 

We still were half a hour from Pamiers and almost 2 hours from Toulouse.  We came to Pamiers and drove through the town but didnít see the cathedral and there was no place to park, so we decided to drive on to Toulouse.

We made it to Toulouse with our trusty TomTom (GPS) and found our apartment with a minimum of trouble.  Toulouse is the 4th largest city in France with over 1.2 million people.  One of its biggest industries is Airbus. 

Kathleen had booked this  apartment, an Adagio apartment hotel.   Most of the other residents of this hotel/apartments are training at Airbus, and are here on a short term basis.  It is a huge modern building. 

 

 

 We parked the car in the complexís parking garage which was quite an adventure.  We had thought about going to a store to buy breakfast supplies, but we decided that we are only there for four mornings Ė the 4th morning our plane leaves at 8:30- that it probably would be more economical to eat downstairs and enjoy the Adagio's breakfast than to buy coffee, cereal and things that we would have to throw away when we left.   Last year most of our stops were in apartments and we carried some food with us.

We had dinner reservation several blocks away at the Colombier a very attractive restaurant with white tablecloths which seem to be full of locals.  It is famous for it cassolett so for the second night in a row that was Kathleen's choice.   I had wonderful scallops with risotto.   We walked back to the hotel. Toulouse is a very busy town.  

 

 

 

 

NEXT DAY

Day 1 - Paris

Day 2 - Sens

Day 3 - Vezelay 

Day 4 - Abbey Fontenay, Semur-en-Auxois, Vezelay -

Day 5 - Beaune

Day 6 - Beaune, Autun, Citeaux, Chateau du Clos Vougeot-

Day 7 - Cluny  

Day 8 - Cluny 

Day 9 - Paray-le-Monial and Clermont-Ferrard

Day 10 - Le Puy-en-Velay 

Day 11 - Avignon 

Day 12 - Avignon to Nimes

Day 13 - Avignon

Day 14 - Marseille

Day 15 - Marseille

Day 16 - Marseille

Day 17 - Marseille to Aigues-Mortes

Day 18 - Carcassonne 

Day 19 - Carcassonne to Toulouse  (posted 10/6/15)

Day 20 - Toulouse

Day 21 - Albi

Day 22 - Toulouse