Well, the holiday in Carcassonne, France was great. We stayed in a modern, but very comfortable villa at Caux-et-Sauzens, a sleepy town a mile or two west of Carcassonne. Though we are assured it was populated we hardly ever saw a soul on the streets - perhaps they all ran a mile when they saw 'les anglais' approaching, even though I am of the brown-looking variety! (although there is an alternative explanation...) Weather not so good for outdoor swimming though even we had a 'solar-heated' pool - it was the third week in August so we expected better. You could probably swim outdoors about 3-4 days out of the 7 days.
The airport, dominated by Ryanair flights, was a tiny place, hardly noticeable from the main road. We arrived back two days after the well-publicised loss-of-oxygen incident, gulp! Having a six and a four year old, and only being away for a week, we stayed kinda local - the furthest we travelled was to Narbonne, a lovely old Roman town, on the Languedoc South coast, just south of Marseilles. We discovered a little-advertised 'aquaparc' (see picture, above) backing onto the wide, sandy and uncluttered Narbonne beach and celebrated my lovely son's 4th birthday there.
We also did an obligatory, though very pleasant, visit to a vineyard - to 'Le Labyrinthe' at Arzens and its Domaine la Bouriette. The recent English owner (?Lorraine) had developed the site for tourists - she, and a visiting companion were charming, and our children were well-amused by the 'maze' and 'petting zoo', whilst hubby and I did some wine-tasting. We certainly wish the vineyard the best of luck in marketing and selling their wines in the UK.
(BTW I'm not sure if this is interesting to any would-be travellers to the area but I will ramble on about a couple more things we did (I know that I, at least, devoured the internet for info before travelling!)
Carcassonne is, of course, famous for its 'fairytale' ancient castle (restored with some subsequent controversy) and we had to have the guided tour of Carcassonne in a horse-drawn carriage (for the sake of the children of course!). You get a comprehensive, 20-minute commentary (en Francais!) and the route takes you between the two ramparts on the fortified walls, departing from Porte Narbonnaise. We thought it was worth it even though, seated at the front of the carriage as we were, we were treated to a long-lasting (and smelling!!) view of two horses' bums!
Another holiday activity, though cliched, but well-worth doing with children was the daily medieval jousting shows inside the castle walls - this really was a holiday-highlight for our kids, and it didn't matter how much noise they made! Hooray!
BTW the AngloINFO Languedoc-Roussillon website site was quite good for places to go-do-and-see, especially for famillies.
Away from the Castle (or le cite as it is known), you can walk to the medieval lower town or the 'ville basse' (as it is known) for services, shops, more restaurants and bistros (further to the ones actually inside the cobbled streets of Carassonne's castle, which was a surprise for us). Also in the ville is its central square , the Place Carnot, alongside its central riverway (see below). A market takes over Place Carnot in on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a colourful and appetising range of Mediterranean produce. Just south-west of here, the covered market at Place d'Eggenfelden is also worth a look. The main shopping street is the pedestrianised rue Clemenceau, which leads from the elegant 18th-century Porte des Jacobins northwards towards the railway station. Most of the offerings are branches of French retail chains.
The central riverway mentioned above is actually a canal - the Canal du Midi is an 18th-century engineering marvel that still serves to link the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, though these days it is used mainly by pleasure craft. From the railway station side, you can take a cruise on the canal of between 90 minutes (€7/£5) and two hours (€10/£7). I really enjoyed walking along the canal, appreciating the calm, the water, the lovely surrounding trees and the boats slowly moseying down with happy people aboard - it reminded me a lot of the Norfolk Broads where I've had a few boating holidays as a complete novice and was surprised at loving it.
I could go on...but won't. I've come to love this part of France since first travelling there in 2007 to Provence - that time we stayed in a dream mas in Eygalieres, just south of Avignon. Hope you've enjoyed reading about our travels, for now - though the length of time it took me to write it up is a sign of our hectic lives! Bye for now...