My Life as a Traveler

We hear the “sonne” in Carcassonne

The medieval walled town of Carcassonne is rumored to be named so because, after weeks of being besieged by their enemies, starving to death and almost giving up hope, Madame Carcas fed the last bit of grain to her pig and tossed him over the wall – splat! When the enemy saw this big ol’ party pig landing in their midst, they thought that the siege wasn’t working (would starving people get rid of good food?) and gave up and went home. Watching, Madam Carcas – sonned (rang out) the bells to alert the town that the enemy was retreating.  I think this is just a story, but it’s a great way to envision the value of this city on a hill and the importance of listening to the “sonnes” when you travel.

Sonne #1 : We take the 8:21am train to Carcassone and upon arrival, stop at the outdoor market in the lower town to buy picnic supplies. We listen to the different vendors as they let us try different types of sausage, cheese, cookies. We buy the best tasting ones, along with some bread and olives, and stuff them in my big purse for picnic later.

Sonne #2: We listen to the art as it calls to us from the Beaux Arts museum on our way to the walled city.  The sculpture is beautiful. The modern art is a little creepy.

Sonne #3: We listen to the vanished voices of the Romans who built the base of the wall and the knights who practiced jousting between the inner and outer wall of La Cite on the hill.

Sonne #4: We listen to the sound of silence in the cathedral there (well, we try, MORGAN).

Sonne #5: We listen to the steps of the vanished bishops who once lived where there is now a very posh hotel (with very posh bathrooms). The paper towels in the nice toilettes make wonderful napkins for our upcoming picnic.

Sonne #6: We listen to the vanished rulers who built a castle apart from the city, yet still within the walls, as we walk along the ramparts.

Sonne #7:  We listen to the wine merchant as he suggests a cheap, yet excellent, local wine for me, Orangina for Anna and Morgan, and recommends a perfect place to picnic.

Sonne #8: Outside the walls and lost, we find and listen to a wizened old Frenchman who guides us to the perfect picnic spot along the river, in the shade.

Sonne #9: Back in Toulouse, we listen to the folk-rock music of a local duo, On Exist, who sing songs about French women and revolution, some in English, some in French, in a bar with a coffee house atmosphere.

Sonne #10:  We listen to our bodies as we finally fall asleep after a long day… some of us later than others… MORGAN.

Traveling is much more fulfilling when you can just listen…

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