Subject: Re: Trip report: French Pyrénées
I wrote some notes last week on the Spanish side for a Ziner who was leaving on his trip.

I will now try to give some information about our trip on the French side.

We landed in Toulouse and picked up our car (preferring to rent from Europcar - as they seem to be the cheapest) driving east into the Pyrénees Orientale. We reached Carcassonne 1/2 hr away on the A61 at about 4:00- ish on a georgeous day. Carcassonne is a double-walled city from the middle-ages and is remarkably well preserved. It really looked like a Hollywood setting rising up above the plain, with its turets and towers - amazing. We only got to poke around a little bit as we arrived fairly late and we needed to get a bite before we went on the tour.

This is not a place that I would recommend visiting (like Mont St. Michel) in the summer during the middle of the day because even at the late hour we visited, there are people wanting to see everything -

We do not make any reservations when we travel but bring many reference books with us (and we do stop at the SI's when necessary) - I checked out the French Logis Guide (which is a book of small, family run hotels - where the husband and wife split the cooking and the reception duties - usually the husband is the chef and the food is generally marvelous!) - this guide comes with a map of France, too. --- It's free from the Tourist information offices. Anyway, we have stayed in 2 or 3-toque places with our own bathrooms - double bed and have always had a wonderful night's stay with terrific food - sometimes - even exceptional food (you can cross reference with the red Michelin Guide if you carry it!) The first night we stayed in Limoux - a small midieval village with a wonderful Logis and a terrific tiny museum adjacent to the tourist information office - the city hosts Carnaval (with masques, and festivities from January through mid-March - every weekend. Unfortunately, we were not going to be in the region during a weekend. Logis where we stayed was off the main square: Moderne et Pigeon - tel:04 68 31 2 57 - Comfortable, clean - food was delicious and the proprietor was very charming and nice - (parking enclosed in rear of bldg)

We hiked in the Aude valley for a few days and then visited the remains of the Cather castles of Peyretuse and Quéribus - These castles were built on hilltops that are about 1500' up for protection. It's amazing to come upon them and then climb up to actually see how they were constructed!

We did some more hiking in the region spending the night in Prades (near Spain ) in a wonderful B&B (also ate there and the food was sensational!) - very well equipped - The town was Taurinya - 5 min. from Prades by car - B&B called: Astrillas (3-s tar B&B which is a high rating - only goes to 4) - tel: 04 68 96 17 01 -- The owner was not very warm, (unusual for owners of B&B's), but his place was charming and extremely comfortable - food was gourmet comfort food - all very inexpensive! Prades hosts a summer Pablo Casals music festival and is a working town, very near the high mts. The hiking was good but the weather was turning...

(Fr. Pyrénées II to follow) - anyone wanting hiking info., just ask. I will not include this in the report) Susie Newton, MA