Carcassonne, a house in the sun…

The same square, the same wine, less hair...

As I stood outside the Youth Hostel in the middle of the Citè, Carcassonne, I thought of myself, thirty-five years ago doing exactly the same thing. I had stayed there for a week back in 1975 and all the memories of a well-spent youth came flooding back…

Then it was dé-je-vue all over again as I sat down in the little square around the corner and started to drink a bottle of the wonderful local red wine… It is rich, dark and slips down oh, so easily. The difference however was having Sandra with me. When I was twenty, it was just me and my back-pack hitch-hiking aound France, on my first independent travel trip.

Back then, I had even less money than I do now and had to hitch-hike around the country. I hitched something like 2,000 kl in four-weeks. That, in a county where hitch-hiking was technically illegal. No wonder I averaged three-hours between rides! After two-weeks of trugging South through Rouen, Tour and Bordeaux, I pitched up in Carcassonne to “cool my heels” and spent a wonderful week with an eclectic mix of Americans, Brits and Australians who were negotiating with a local wine grower to work on the verdage, or grape-picking season.

I was between my first and second year at University and as it was mid-September, I couldn’t work with this great group of people without risking my place for the following year. So, I made do with drinking the cheap but excellent vintage from the local co-operative and eating large amounts of bread and cheese… A great way to be poor!

Hopefully, our house will be somewhere to the left of the frame in the middle distance

This time it was different. The medieval citè and Carcassonne had made a great impression on me back then and this time we were in search of a house to buy. The choice was huge and the prices moderate, thank’s to the recession. Nearly twenty houses later, we had an offer accepted on a little house in town, a minute’s walk from a butcher’s and fishmonger’s shops and three minutes from a baker. Maybe we had offered too much, but as Sandra said, if that is the price you are happy to pay and the vender is happy to accept, it is the right price…

After our week of house-hunting, Sandra set off back to the UK yesterday to spend some time with her sisters but I am still here, waiting for my flight to Greece in a few days time, where I will (hopefully) meet up with my friend James, who will be holidaying with his family.

This is a rough-old post, I’m afraid but it will have to do until I have access to an English keyboard and spell-check… None-the-less, I am enjoying myself and looking forward to a concert of music by Tallis and Byrd in a church just below the walls of the citè this evening. Think of me…



About stevehollier

Steve Hollier is the editor of AZ Magazine, an English language lifestyle magazine based in Baku, Azerbaijan. He began his career working for a firm of stockbrokers in the City of London then went on to attend the University of Essex where he was awarded an MA in Sociology in 1984. After a career in arts and cultural development work, he became a freelance arts consultant, writer and photographer.
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5 Responses to Carcassonne, a house in the sun…

  1. David says:

    Steve, we are looking forwards to meeting you. Congrats on the house, hope you took pics. We are off to a good start, as I thought I booked James’ flight to arrive 1 hour before us, but found out he lands 25 hours before us! Oh well, he will make do. See you in Filiatra. Dave Wrocklage

    • stevehollier says:

      Hi Dave,

      Looking forward to meeting you, James and the rest of your family soon. I am flying from Toulouse to Athens tomorrow as there are no flights from here on the 10th or 11th. I may give you a call on my arrival. Perhaps we could meet for a drink in Plaka?

      Best wishes from Southern France.


  2. Richard Finch says:

    I love Carcassonne…and the regional food and markets, second to none. I hope all goes well with the purchase…we can house swop!

  3. Hugh Paxton says:

    Sounds lovely!


    • stevehollier says:

      Hi there Hugh,
      I am now in the Baku beyond but having to do without internet connection at home for the moment… However, that means more time at the rather wonderful Baku Roasting Company internet cafe drinking a chocolate milkshake whilst listening to Mozart piano concerto. Bliss!

      More blogs of Carcassonne and Greece.



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