My beautiful friend Raja (abbreviated name, but doesn’t this sound exotic!?) is getting married soon. I can’t tell you how excited we all are about this wedding – she caught the bouquet at mine and when she returned early from Sri Lanka her very own Mr Man was waiting at the airport where he proposed (the story in full brings tears to most peoples’ eyes). They are planning what sounds like the worlds’ most awesome wedding. But first up, her gorgeous bridesmaid G planned what turned out to be one of the best hen parties I’ve ever been to with five of Raja’s best friends in the entire world.
Turns out she has great taste in friends. We all got on like a house on fire – everyone quite laid back, quite girly with travel obsessions, all gorgeous and all who know how to laugh, a lot. This was the recipe for one absolutely fabulous weekend in the South of France. Off to Carcassonne for a three day weekend we went.
G chose Carcassonne for two reasons: that her friends went last year and said it was awesome, and that there was a cheap Ryan Air flight there at a really good time. For £80 each we flew from Stansted at 10:10am on the Friday, landing early afternoon in Carcassonne. The taxi was €15 from the airport to our adorable hotel, Hotel Aragon, which is by the castle walls in the heart of the town.
The ladies who ran the hotel were exactly like us – really girly, young, pretty, very friendly and really liked people (or maybe it was just us?). Every time we saw them they’d make comments like “tres jolie” and wish us well on our excursions. For €100 per room per night we had comfortable rooms and a brilliant location. I’d stay there again.
We spent the first afternoon (ok, most of our time actually~) eating and exploring the town, the castle of which is what Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle is based on.
The first meal, right in the centre of the castle grounds, was goats cheese salad and a litre of wine (between 6 of us) with plenty of baguettes and frites. This set the standard and was followed up with ice-cream/sorbet and plenty of walking after. It was so bright and sunny – our English skin was soaking it up. There was a bit of pool time before more eating out.
Our first night meant a five course meal at a restaurant in the heart of the city walls. I can’t remember the name of it (must remember to get cards in future~) but most of us had salad followed by the local speciality, cassoulet, cheese with honey and dessert. Of course, served with the local sparkling wine, Blankett, which is the original sparkling wine that local monks discovered in the 16th century.
After dinner it was onwards to Le Bar a Vins which we went to both nights. I think it might be the only bar inside the walls of Carcassonne which has good music and a nice drinks selection, also a good young crowd. By the time we’d finished with two more bottles of Blankett it was time for bed in our adorable quirky hotel.
Saturday we were in for a big day – up at 10:30am for breakfast at the town’s Saturday market which is a must do in Carcassonne. Think big fresh fruit, vege and deli food everywhere. We ended up at the same Patisserie twice where we bought baguettes and mille feuille. The ladies who ran the place kept correcting our pronunciation of mille feuille and we spent most of the day saying the word after scoffing it and wanting more…
We also bought R a cake in the shape of a love heart, coeur fruites rouges, which she loved.
Lunch back at Hotel Aragon was a giant baguette with comte cheese and mille feuille before being picked up by Jean Michel Sobler – our host for the afternoon’s wine tour.
My god did we have a great time on this. He took us to the abbey where they first discovered sparkling wine (a bottle of wine exploded in a cellar, then they were determined to find out how to recreate it) followed by a few too many glasses consumed at Robert vineyard where we had absolutely divine Blankett and another tiny place run by a husband and wife who specialised in Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Jean Michel was like a character out of a French movie – dressed perfectly with a delightful French sense of humour who kept us entralled with stories about his fascinating life and tales of his family. I think he quite enjoyed our company too – who wouldn’t though – six gorgeous ladies!
The rest of the time was spent consuming more food, more Blankett and perhaps a few cocktails. But what happens on hen tour stays on hen tour so I will leave you with that. One thing I know though – I definitely plan to take Mr Man back to Carcassonne and I would LOVE to spend the weekend with these ladies again. Thanks G for organising and thanks Raja’s Mr Man for proposing and giving us a great excuse to take our friend away.