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bypassed by many loved by those who stayed y Life and i shall die if restless spirits try................. I have been held up at gunpoint, chased by gangsters, had trees attack me, drank alcohlic diesel, been locked up in a sudanese detention cell, had a price (albeit cheap) on my head and a b

Languedoc France

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 9 November 2007 | Views [249]

When you find it is time to get rid of those stresses and take up the offer of cheap air fares and get away for that short break, we often overlook the fact that kids can enjoy time away without incessant flashing lights, beaches or video games. To most of our offspring 'Culture' is something that they only know as a word that rhymes with a great big scavenging bird. However with a little imagination their World can be transformed in a weekend by places they only think as fantasy.

In only 90 minutes from a drizzled England you can arrive in the sunny French Med, where locals will tell you their beaches are the best in France, but back off the coast and you find yourself in an area unbelievably rich in history.
A short car ride from Carcassonne Airport can whisk you from modernity back in time as quickly as if you had rented a 'special car' from Jules Verne car rentals.

Seen at first glance (and would recommend that from the Pont Vieux) on high ground, La Cite Medieviale in Carcassonne takes your breath away. To boy's it's a castle of Camelot proportions. To my 5 year old girl it is the Princess Castle that all fairy tales are built on. To adults it is just simply spectacular.
The free entrance surprises most (fees payable for some tours within) and inside is just as impressive, and since parts date back to the 11th Century, immaculately kept. Apart from the tourist shopping heaven (or hell) the town could still be in the Dark Age. All that is missing is bubonic plague, the odd leper and the smell of foetid sewage. To optimise the spectacle that is La Cite Medieviale take a trip to encompass both day and night. Never mind that you are more likely to bump into camera dangling tourist than a Mandolin strumming Jester, the experience is unforgettable.
Further South along roads that shoulder the Vineyards of Langedouc the journey is peppered with small villages aesthetically sub-servant to their Monastic past, surrounded by the lush green hillsides foothills that marks the start of the Pyrenees. Here we are in Catalonian France where the Catalan flag waves proudly and the French Tricolour hangs limp as if to remember where it stands in the heart to many of this region.

A small gem hidden just off the main tourist track is the small fishing town of Collioure. 'Picture postcard beauty' doesn't do Collioure the justice it deserves, as all the many postcards portraying it do not possess the ability to encapsulate the beauty that Collioure offers. Its idyllic harbour front is the face, but its heart is in the back streets that hypnotically draw you into their coolness. Along cobbled streets that are the arterial life of the town pastel fronted houses hold the doorways to the many local Artists that plough their wares. The smell of the many Mediterranean restaurants adds to the ambience as your eyes inquisitively wander at every corner, their seafood smell swayed my 9 year old boy to go hunting for shell fish in the many small coves within walking distance of the harbour.
To go further South would be to go to Spain, and why not? Barcelona is only a couple of hours away. However in a weekend do we really want to endure the madness that is Barcelona traffic? You can do 'Barca' anytime. For alternatives you can find somewhere else by dragging your finger South of the border along the main motorway.
Would it be unfair to say Figueres features as the first large town on the map due solely to the Teatre Museu Dali?
It's most famous son Salvador Dali, is remembered by a creation as surreal as only his mind allowed. The building itself surrounded on 2 sides by a castle wall, giant goose egg ramparts laying atop pink walls studded with bread to give it its gooseflesh façade, only enticed further the willing pilgrims to its entrance.
To get children to willingly participate in a visit to an art gallery itself takes an epic piece negotiating. So to say to them it was the Disneyland of Art Museums wouldn't be too far off the mark especially when the never ending queue outside led off as erratically as one of the mad genius' brushstrokes. The difference here was that instead of a minute of stomach churning excitement, the Teatre Museu Dali gave hours (3 in our case) of the mental stimulation Walt Disney could only dream about. Mesmerising to all, the Museum could make even the most conservative eye stare in wonder. Children, there were many, who couldn't appreciate his thinking (then again who could) gawked, giggled, and pulled parents to yet another eye-catching piece, that captured their imagination.
For devout worshippers, a trip to Port Lligat back up the coast holds The Dali House, again topped with Goose eggs (very liberal town planners by all accounts). For total Dali overload The Casa-Museu Gala Dali the residence of his wife then his own is just off the A-7 in Pubol.

Of course there are many other places this region holds close to its heart but to stumble upon things as we did gave us the satisfaction to note that we can always return and seek those out.

It says something that on return our fridge at home now doesn’t bear children's pictures of houses, swings and dogs, but of violin playing mice rollerblading over golden bread, and Goose eggs, lots of Goose eggs.

Tags: Culture

 

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