Carcasonne + Minerve + the beach

It's official, France is awesome. Not like you ever questioned it before, I'm just saying.

There just can't be anything wrong with eating 4 courses minimum at every meal (okay, except breakfast). Especially when those final two courses are cheese followed by Creme Brulee. DAAAAAANG!

I'm taking it as my new maxim that a variety of cheeses eaten twice daily aids digestion and is a healthy source of protein.

Bunch of layabouts. It's only plus 35.

Last night we went to Carcasonne, which as I've discovered is the world's largest, best preserved enclosed castle/medieval city in the world. Inside are shops of both high and low quality, restaurants, bars, a cathedral, courtyards, and lots of windy ('windy' as in meandering, not like blowing wind) streets and castle walkways to go about on. To some people it might seem too touristy, a lot of the stores are kind of the typical crappy souvenir stores you see all over. But in a way I think that having the shops and restaurants there preserves the idea of a medieval city in a way that a museum can't. It keeps life in the castle long after the sun goes down.

Genuine castle-y bits.

It has my professional stamp of approval. *STAMP*

This morning we got up early to take advantage of the 'cool' weather (+23) to do a bike ride. It was my first time riding a French road bike, and I think I did quite well. I seem to be impervious to extended uphill riding. I do however, have an aversion to riding straight downhill at breakneck speed. So I ended up passing everyone on the way up, while my hosts flew past me on the way down. 

Our hilltop destination was Minerve, an ancient fortified city that is famous, or rather infamous, for the history surrounding the Cathars of France. The Cathars were a sect of Christianity who abstained from sex, meat, violence, and material wealth. I know, I know, it sounds like fun! They also believed in reincarnation and that eventually you would reach perfection.

Pardon the strange colors, I was using someone else's camera. Didn't fancy dragging along my 6 pound baby on the bike trip. So anyways, that's Minerve.

I'll have to listen to the radio program to get all my facts straight, but basically the Catholic church were all in a tizzy over this sect, and rounded the Cathars up until they all gathered in this one city, Minerve, where they thought they'd be safe... The Catholic church eventually broke through and gave the Cathars the option of renouncing their faith or being burnt alive. I should mention that there were 184 'perfects' [believers who had supposedly reached perfection] in the city at this time. Out of that, 180 chose to be burnt alive. 

They're called "Catars" and there's a cat. hahahahahahaha.

How about that 1210, huh? Crazy.

That of course makes me wonder about the fanaticism to which people bring themselves over something as ridiculous as religion. [To be fair of course, it's really something to make a stand against an organization much more powerful and influential than you for something you truly believe can make a difference.] I can't say I admire their decision on getting burnt alive, but they probably would have come to a bad end anyways at some point. 

Thus marked the precedent for the inquisition.

And on that note... *cough*

This afternoon I was offered the possibility of driving to the Mediterranean to lounge on the beach and I instantly said YES! Who passes up a chance to get third degree burns on their feet dashing across a mile wide sandy beach in the South of France? Not me! Luckily there was an extra beach umbrella which provided much needed shade in the +35 heat... after several dips in the sea and an extended afternoon of reading, we came home where I devoured my third batch of tomato+pesto+chevre salad, [which I am hereby addicted to,] and I had my first experience with artichokes. They are delicious.

I am so pale compared to these people.

Tomorrow I'm headed off bright and somewhat early to Montpellier for the day. And then I'll be on the overnight party train to Paris. I'm really looking forward to Paris, I'm staying in Montmarte which is of course the setting for two of my favorite movies: Amelie and Moulin Rouge! I plan to eat a lot of crepes and I have dancing visions of honey-drizzled cakes of goat cheese in my head. Hmmmm! I'm not gonna lie, I need Tony and Ab-Ripper X more than I need another piece of cheese at this point, but I'M ON HOLIDAY. And have been for the past month. And will be for another 2 months. *throws confetti* I love holidays!

HOLY CRAP. So I was actually uploading photos, being like 'oh, I better just do it now since I have internet.' And then I looked over at the clock to see the time. And there was the most GIANT grasshopper I've ever seen sitting on the pillow beside me, rubbing his hind legs menacingly. MENACINGLY! He looked like he just ate 6 horses for dinner and was eyeballing me next. Seriously this thing was huge. And he was guarding my camera so I couldn't even take a photo! 

I snuck into the bathroom, got an empty glass, and trapped him with a coaster. And then I threw him out the window. 

You know, I'm not much into the local wildlife here. The other day there was a scorpion in the kitchen. *shudders*

ACK I just had my SECOND BUG EMERGENCY of this post! I heard a suspicious scratching sound and got up to examine the room. Emerging from underneath the door was an insect of insanely grotesque proportions, with antlers to rival a moose. I trapped it with a GARBAGE CAN (it was that big) and accidentally hit on its legs. IT SCREAMED AT ME. I had to call in reinforcements and made Tim promise that it was safely ejected far, far, FAR outside the house. I've closed my window and blocked off the door with a bath mat. No more bug emergencies PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! It's my worst nightmare! 

*shivers and cries*

I don't sleep well, knowing that I'm being watched and possibly trekked across by insects.