Carcassonne is a town in the Aude département of the Occitanie region. The modern city is built around two medieval cities; the original hilltop Cité of Carcassonne on the north side of the River Aude, and the thirteenth-century Bastide of Carcassonne on the south side. The fortified Cité is a spectacular walled town – the largest medieval bastide in Europe with its city walls still intact.
Crafts from the past
I always like to visit Carcassonne; it makes me wonder how life in Medieval times would have been. Since the Cité is so well preserved, it is like taking an enormous step back in time. Last weekend was the perfect moment to visit, as it was European Artistic Crafts Day. Carcassonne participated in the event with many local, professional artisans and artists displaying their arts and crafts. The entrance to the ‘Château Comtal’, or the Count’s Castle, was free. Inside the courtyard and the castle itself were more than 50 stands where you could admire and buy crafts from the past.
Craftsmen and artists
For example, Olivier Ledoux, who is a wood sculptor. He brings life to the wood he carves when he makes his sculptures, and he also creates furniture, totems and jewels. Or Annette Hardouin, a creator and textile finisher who dyes her fabric using ‘Pastel Blue’ (Isatis Tinctoria). This blue pigment comes from the leaves of woad, a plant that grew very well in the warm sunshine of southwestern France. Particularly special were the blacksmiths and ironworkers present. Representing the ‘Association des Ferronniers Forgerons Audois’ (Association of Ironworkers and Blacksmiths living in the Aude region), they were the guests of honour during these European days of crafts.
Inside the castle, there were even more artists, from calligraphers to stain glass artists and lacemakers. It was so captivating to see all these craftsmen together with all their skilled work on display. Let’s hope that the younger generation will be interested too and will work to preserve these precious ways of working and making.