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Arrival in Carcassonne

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

We are on the move again! We have now arrived at our long-term destination in a picturesque village called Montolieu, in the Carcassonne region of France. What a magnificent part of the country this is! There’s nothing like the ruins of a Cathar castle in the distance to make my heart soar.

This sit is going to be weird because we won’t have animals to look after. That’s unfortunate, because it means I will miss Max and all the creatures who came before him that much more.

What’s fantastic is that one of the homeowners is an artist, so immediately upon walking inside we encountered modern decor and beautiful white walls adorned with his creative talents. It’s a bit like living in a museum gallery—right away I noticed my heart opening and my spirits lifting. Coincidentally, this is the location from which I will be presenting my upcoming session on “Jung, Art, and Typology”—how did I get so lucky? The ambience is perfect.

Our view out back is extraordinary: we can see an ancient church tower nearby while the Pyrenees twinkle in the distance. A swimming pool beckons in the backyard, but unfortunately the cold weather is making it unlikely that we will use it before we leave.

We spent a terrific evening together socializing with the homeowners—our assessment is that she has type preferences for ESFJ and his are for ISFP (another attitude-antagonistic couple). They departed for Spain early the next morning while we were recovering from mild hangovers (we did a bit more drinking than we’re accustomed to).

As I said, the house is exquisite (the feeling-tone is marvelous, as one might expect from the home of two feeling types), but neither of the two bathrooms feature bathtubs. I’ll be honest: after several months in Cyprus without a tub, nor our Airbnb, or most of the hotels we stayed in between Cyprus and France—I was desperate for a long soak in a tub. I wanted to feel warmth down to my bones to battle the all-pervasive chill we suffered over winter.

So I bought a bathtub!

Seriously, I dropped $50 on Amazon Prime, and within a day I was the proud owner of an inflatable bathtub like campers use, and we promptly blew it up and filled it. Ecstasy! Better still, unlike most tubs, this one has a cover that zips shut (and keeps the water warm), and I laid an Ikea shelf board across it as a makeshift table for everything from dining to computing!

Best of all, it deflates small enough to take with us to future sits, where—bathroom size permitting—I’ll use it once more (or not). But no matter when or where I luxuriate in it again, it’s one of the best $50 I’ve spent.

Robin went out shopping and tripped over this crazy thing: a fruit and vegetable vending machine! This isn’t anything we’ve ever run across before. Behind glass doors can be found assorted bags of potatoes, carrots, turnips, celery, asparagus—everything one might need to satisfy a midnight craving for vegetables!

This refrigerated cabinet is provided by a nearby farm specializing in organic produce and it’s a clever way for them to offer their goods for sale without the necessity (and expense) of maintaining a storefront in the village.

We geared up and went out for some sightseeing: for ages I have wanted to visit the Citadel (Cité) of Carcassonne, the largest walled city in Europe and its best preserved medieval fortress. At last my dream came true!

Built on the ruins of an old Roman fortress, the moat is empty while concentric stone walls encircle the inner city for two miles. It boasts 52 towers with pointed Gothic or slanted Roman roofs alternating with crenelated ramparts.

Contained within its walls are churches, a basilica, a castle, and a meandering maze of cobbled streets—a Disney-esque dreamland of passageways and winding alleys lined with ancient buildings and squares that once sheltered around 4,000 inhabitants.

I would have been in ecstasy except—just between you and me—the weather was awful! And nearly the entire tour is set outdoors. Just my luck!

An amazing bit of history regards the city’s namesake: During the time of the Muslim occupation, Lady Carcas held the location against Frankish invaders. After a five-year siege, these defenders were starving, and she devised a clever ruse. She fed a pig as much wheat as possible and had it thrown over the battlements. Upon seeing this, the Franks believed the inhabitants had more than enough food to survive the siege. They gave up and left. Watching them depart, Lady Carcas ordered the bells to ring in triumph. Hearing the bells, a Frankish officer said, “Carcas sonne,” meaning, “[Lady] Carcas is ringing.” And thus the city gained its new name.

A memorial bust of Lady Carcas is featured on a column by a gate into the city, which caught my eye right away.

Besides wanting to pinch myself every few minutes because the scenery was so picturesque, I daresay my favorite part of the tour was the ancient sculpture museum—probably because it was indoors and out of the wind.

And then there was this room just beyond—which seems like an old chapel but isn’t. It was just an ordinary room where the castle nobility received visitors. “Just ignore that crucifixion scene over there…”

In the 12th century Carcasonne had sided with the Cathars. On August 1, 1209, the Albigensian Crusade of Pope Innocent III arrived and began a siege. On August 15, the city surrendered and the occupants were forcibly evicted, allowed to leave without any belongings at all. They departed “carrying nothing but their sins.”

Upon completion of our rampart tour, we found ourselves at Basilica Saint Nazaire, which was built over the course of several hundred years from the 800s to the 1300s in a Gothic-Romanesque design.

Its interior boasts stonework, stained glass windows, and romanesque sculpture side by side. In the choir, a central stained glass window dates from 1280, one of the oldest in the country.

Of course there was a chapel devoted to the “Maid of Orléans,” Jeanne d’Arc—she is an obligatory bit of sculpture everywhere in France.

A fun fact: the play George Bernard Shaw wrote about her presents her as a character most likely possessing INFJ preferences. But if you ever read a biography about the real-life Joan d’Arc and the shenanigans she pulled prior to her career as a warrior (not to overlook her competence with horse-riding and weaponry), she comes off as more likely having ESFP or ESTP preferences. The “voices” she heard may have come through her inferior function rather than her superior function. It’s an interesting bit of trivia to argue about.

A friend just alerted me that it’s Mother’s Day in the UK today. Happy Mother’s Day to my mom back in the USA—and to all the mothers who are being feted today.

Once again, remember to sign up for my upcoming APTi webinar on “Jung, Art, and Typology” on Thursday, March 31. I made an 8-minute promo for the program (and you can see some of the homeowner's art on the wall behind me):

Talk to ya later, -Dr. Vicky Jo

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