I spent a weekend in the southerwestern city of Carcassonne [pictured above] earlier this year.
I was researching a guide to the city for budget travellers, exploring the attractions of the city split between its Unesco-listed citadel and medieval lower town.
Here’s a sample of the text:
Storm the ramparts
Make the citadel your starting point, the ancient fortifications reflecting the city’s long history from the Romans to the medieval heyday and 19th-century renaissance as overseen by the architect, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.
Join a 75-minute walking tour from the tourist office, where a short VR film first explains historical context.
Otherwise, simply take a one-hour, self-guided stroll around the ramparts to soak up the medieval ambiance with views of The Pyrenees beyond.
The 12th-century Port d’Aude gate makes for the ultimate selfie spot.
I’ve got form with Montpellier, where I spent an early summer visit on assignment for a couple of publications.
I remembered it from student days as my favourite French city, but then had a mixed experience on a more recent visit.
I was back in early July on a group press trip with tourism officials for the opening of the city’s new contemporary art museum, MOCO.
The city has certainly grown, expanding into new districts towards the beach and bustling with language-exchange students.
I still love the Old Town with its cobblestone backstreets and labyrinthine passageways. But I was less grabbed by some of the modernist architecture of somewhat soulless outer districts.
Here’s a taster of my story:
The opening of the art museum, Montpellier Contemporary (MOCO) is the latest development in a city embracing art. There was always a flirtation with street art and a regular summer arts festival but MOCO has really put the city on the map as a hub for all things conceptual.
I finally feel like I’ve got a better sense of what makes Montpellier tick.
Just in time to recommend some places to visit, such as the new Marché du Lez [pictured above], to my daughter, who is due to visit on a school exchange next Easter.