Week 4: Perpignan etc

Wow! We loved Perpignan! We borrowed a car off a friend for two weeks and drove right down to the south of France. It took eleven hours. Hurrah for portable DVD players! We had rented a flat in the center of Perpignan for a week and it was perfect. The beach was 10KM away and so we went there every day for the kids and then spent the afternoon and/or evening exploring Perpignan which we found to be full of character and life and olive trees and great foodie streets and markets and fountains... it was fantastic. I'm not kidding about the fountains either - we got into the habit of taking a towel and a change of clothes for both kids when we went on our wanders because you could guarantee one of the kids would have jumped into a fountain before we had even spotted it. They had those ones that just burst out of holes in the pavement and boy did our children (and every other kid in town) have fun running through those. My favourite place that we visited in Perpignan was the Palace of the Kings of Majorca. A massive castle that we had such fun exploring, imagining we were kings and queens and soldiers. Below is a detail of the wall of the bridge you had to cross to enter the upper keep (that is what it is in my mind anyway!!). All the walls were pebble encrusted like this: really nice. We also went on a couple of excursions while we were in the area. We visited Castelnaudary, home of Cassoulet and of the Canal du Midi... and had an extremely nice day eating, walking along the canal in glorious weather, driving along the canal and discovering locks and a little village that is built in concentric circles around it's church - crazy to drive "round". We would like to go back to the Canal one day and actually hire a barge and spend a week floating down it in pure bliss.And we went to Carcassonne: a very well known medieval walled town which looks like a fairytale castle. I don't know how I managed to take the picture below with no one in it (obssessively motivated) because believe me the place was heaving with folk and so that kind of spoiled it for us (and surely everyone else) it was worth the detour but actually didn't provide us with any really memorable moments (oh I lie, we really enjoyed listening to a couple of buskars playing indian music up on the battlements).One of the highlights of the week for us was on the Thursday evening when we were present for the final one of the town's summer Thursday night music festival. From 7pm until midnight there were various different musical acts playing in various squares and streets throughout Perpignan sometimes a brass band walking along, sometimes a rock, folk or reggae group up on a stage. The climax was the parade (picture below) that took place after dark and that led everyone through the town with music, skeletal costumes, flares, smoke machines and drums to end up at some fountains which then er performed for us (the jets of water were lit up in different changing colours and were programmed to rise and fall in synchronisation to some very strident music). Fantastic!Oh je me suis donnée un délai pour finir ce message et me voilà en retard! Mais je me suis aussi promis de faire un effort et de compléter chaque message avec du Français. Bon je fais vite: Après onze heures de route dans une voiture empruntée nous sommes arrivés en Languedoc Roussillon où nous sommes restés une semaine dans un appartement loué à Parpignan. Une semaine remplie avec cette ville merveilleuse de Perpignan, le Canal du Midi, Castelnaudary - maison du cassoulet, Carcassonne et bien sûr Canet Plage. Une semaine parfaite: culture, musique, bonne bouffe, mer, athlé (et Bolt bien sûr), palais, châteaux, nature et tou cela en famille!

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