Carcasonne with Richard the Lionheart

The first midievil town/castle we visited (St Paul-Vence) had nothing on this place. While the “streets” (walkways actually) were narrower in Vence, this place had a much stronger “old” feel to it. There were far more artist shops and galleries here as well. This town was also a little bit larger and included a range of restaurants and pricey accommodation inside the walls. The actual castle was extensively restored as well. Before we paid to see it though, we made a couple of pit stops.

One was at a torture devices “museum” with some original pieces and some replicas from the Spanish Inquisition and that general era. Only the two kids and I went in as Claudette and the two grandparents were not interested in that expenditure to be grossed out with ingenious methods of causing extreme discomfort, pain and death to humans. I was not even sure if Luke would be ready for it with his sweet young innocent mind. Oh well! There were all kinds of ugly, nasty devices and very elaborate descriptions in six languages. Surprisingly Luke didn’t wake up creaming from nightmares that night, even though I expected all three of us to. Pictures were not allowed, but I was compelled to sneak a few in anyways. The most notable to me was an actual woman’s chastity belt. I’d never seen one before and the short but sharp spikes sticking away from the hole would easily have been able to ward of any man without blood in his brain, no matter how crazed he thought he was. OUCH!! The genuine iron maiden was a close second. The story posted with it detailing the gruesome 80 hour death of the last person to have been sandwiched in between the spikes was horrific in detail. I’m pretty sure that all the old blood and guts had been cleaned out though…

At the second stop, Luke was the only one who wanted to go, so Grandpa joined him. Being a very scream-worthy haunted house, the rest of us were a little worried about Grandpa’s ticker. Luckily Luke & Ray came out unscathed a half hour later. I managed to time it and videotape their exit amid the wails of surprise from the teenaged girls right behind our boys. They thoroughly enjoyed it, but Luke was unable to convince anyone else to fork out the $14 so he could go again.

The castle fees were minimal at only about $8 each. We read that the restoration for tourism purposes had actually begun in the 1870’s, just a few years after Canada became a country! Once again it was incredibly well done with thorough explanations in six different languages. It also detailed the history of the location, and showed models of the buildings as they were slowly built up to protect a wealthy (but not well thought of) family in town. Eventually the place was sieged and then handed over to the French Royal Family to become beefed up even more. It was an excellent tour and gave me a better understanding of Age Of Empires. (What?! You don’t think that the purpose of traveling and gaining new experiences is only to help one better understand video games? Geesh, what were ya thinking?!?)

In my last Blog posts comments my friend Darin left a hilarious message detailing the inquisitive nature of his wonderful mother and her experience in Carcasonne. Very worthwhile to read. Check out the comments here:

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