I had bad toothache in Carcassonne, but my discomfort led to a very pleasant encounter - but more about that later!

There's something rather emotive about the City of Carcassonne. Situated in the heart of Cathar country, the towering walled part of this interesting city seems to hark back to much earlier times.

To somewhat erode the myth, it is not actually that old, as the Cité was, in effect, re-built in the 19th century. But the style is most definitely medieval and despite the hoards of tourists, it is strangely beautiful.

The movie "Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves" was filmed here, and the turrets, battlements and towers all lend a unique atmosphere to the place. Actually, I like the new or "lower" town too.

Carcassonne    Carcassonne

On my last visit to Carcassonne I had the great pleasure to witness one of those very French occasions. A delightful "crocodile" of dozens of children aged from 2 to 12 or so, parading around the town in a carnival-style procession with several brass bands in attendance.

The youngsters were dressed in a vast array of flowery outfits obviously celebrating the springtime. Proud parents, locals, civic dignitaries and tourists lined the streets,applauding heartily, as the procession wound its way around Carcassonne. What a delight!

Carcassonne is a friendly place, full of friendly people......including "Monsieur (or perhaps I should say "Docteur") le Dentiste"!

Let's set the scene......Ryanair's cheap flight was the reason I chose to spend the first 3 days of my spring visit to "La Belle France" in Carcassonne.

Outline of story......first evening - fine hotel - great restaurant - superb meal - bad consequences (not the Restaurant's fault!!). Overnight - rampant toothache! Early next morning before attempting croissants, jam and hot coffee, I present myself to the hotel proprietor with a plea for help. Appointment arranged within ten minutes to see the local dentist.

Oh boy! Only an hour later I arrive at the address I'm given. Up a flight of stairs, walls of peeling paint don't exactly inspire confidence, but the pain drives me upward to a small, rather bare waiting room. No receptionist, just the sounds of a whining drill. Sat down and waited. Read a magazine (the French equivalent of "Reader's Digest"!).

Finally the drilling stops and a patient emerges with a silver-haired gentleman of mature years. Several "au revoirs" later, elderly man turns to me. I manage to exclaim, "Bonjour Monsieur, je suis l'Anglais - J'ai un rendez-vous" etc. etc.

An hour and a bit later I've been injected, drilled and filled (well, my tooth has!).

In that time, I have had a most interesting conversation in pigeon-french and pigeon-english which ranged from vintage cars (his hobby) to football (my interest) and then on to World War 2, where Monsieur can recall the SS marching into Carcassonne by the road outside what is now his practice, and later the allies finally liberating the area.

I'm not saying that I enjoy dental work being done on me, but my painful condition produced another lovely moment in my French Experience.

I left his practice with a receipt (50 was the cost!) and, believe it or not, an x-ray of my tooth (as evidence for my insurance claim!).

Meanwhile, 3 souls were sat in the waiting room - and had been for some considerable time, as I had been "fitted in" between appointments. What can you say?

Carcassonne Carcassonne


If you want to know more about Carcassonne log on to the Carcassonne website, there's some great information on the Cathars and their history.

Perhaps you'll be encouraged to fly Ryanair to this pleasant place in Cathar country. Don't worry if you get toothache - all will be painlessly resolved along with a most interesting conversation, as long as "Monsieur le Dentiste" hasn't retired!!


Click on above image for more information on Carcassonne (on-line web page)

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Hotel MontsegurMadame Faugeras was the kindly proprietor who fixed up my dental appointment. She and her husband run a very individualistic establishment just outside of the centre of Carcassonne.

Montsegur is old, full of antiques and is great. No formulistic, standardised rooms here - all unique and extremely cosy, but with all the necessary comforts.

A bonus is the hotel restaurant, "Le Languedoc", situated 100 or so metres down the road. It is run by the son and daughter-in-law of M. & Mme Faugeras.

The three evening meals I had were really something - I am sure the restaurant has a fine reputation for the quality of the cooking and the service, which was first class.

So, if you are planning a visit to Carcassonne, make the Montsegur your base - you'll pay a lot less than you would staying in the turreted cité, with better food and marvellous hospitality to boot.

Hotel Montsegur                                Hotel Montsegur

                                Click on above image for more information on Hotel Montsegur (on-line web page)

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