[Global Times France Special Correspondent Zhao Fengying] Every July 14, more than 30,000 cities in France, regardless of their size, set off fireworks displays as an enduring tradition of National Day. Among them, musical fireworks of Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly most famous, but among 7 most festive fireworks in America listed by French fashion information site foozine, fireworks of ancient city of Carcassonne took first place. Moreover, Carcassonne also eclipsed Eiffel Tower and took second place in list of picturesque places in France (in terms of number of tourists compiled by Agence France-Presse, Mont Saint-Michel ranks first). For many, "little-known" Carcassonne is not a tourist destination, but this ancient city in south of France boasts many picturesque places with its unique grandiose architecture. There is neither a romantic French-style castle nor a royal-style garden. Everyone comes here to experience addiction to "time travel". ".
Through a time travel drama in an ancient city
With a 3-kilometre double-walled city wall and 52 defensive towers, ancient city of Carcassonne, nestled in throat of Pyrenees and Montenegro, rises eerily above Oder. The shape of battlements of ancient city wall is very similar to Great Wall, and its history is comparable to Great Wall: since its construction, it has experienced more than 2500 years of winds and rains. Once ruled by Gauls, Romans, Visigoths and Saracens, it became most powerful frontier fort between France and Kingdom of Aragon (in present-day Spain) in 13th century.
Despite all sorts of wars, Crusades and Black Death, impregnable ancient city of Carcassonne stood for two thousand years, and it can be called a "living fossil" of defensive city of Middle Ages. The city has permanent residents, churches, castles, theatres, schools, hotels, restaurants, markets and museums. Entering city gates, tourists will open a book of history written on stone. Climb city wall and drive around city for a week. Suspension bridges, towers, loopholes, moats and fortresses in city emphasize sophistication of defensive structures. Between streets and lanes, windows of churches and wooden walls of houses reflect mastery of decoration and landscaping. When visiting ancient city at night, feeling of time travel is especially strong: in dim light, you can see how archers shoot sharp arrows at city wall, and mournful groans of tortured prisoners seem to come from an interrogation tower. .
Although entire ancient city as a whole is designed in architectural style of Middle Ages, visitors can find here elements of different eras, accumulated over almost a thousand years, from Renaissance to Gallic era. Just touch a piece of brick and stone and you can get up close and personal with prehistoric cultural relics.
The unique ancient architecture and dreamlike sense of travel make Carcassonne an ideal natural setting for filming time travel dramas. 21 films were filmed here, such as "Robin Hood". In famous sci-fi drama "A sharp turn in time and space," a medieval knight starring Jean-Reno traveled to United States in 21st century with a magic potion of magical power, and a wonderful journey was born from him.
Repairing an ancient city and doing bad deeds with good intentions?
In 17th century, territory of southwestern France gradually expanded, Carcassonne lost its strategic position as a frontier fortress, and fortifications of ancient city were gradually abandoned. The new city, separated from ancient city by a river, developed rapidly, since it is located on a plain. The administrative, economic, religious and cultural centers were also moved to new city. The decaying ancient city gradually became a gathering place for poor and homeless, who not only turned towers into warehouses and paddocks forota, but also removed bricks and stones from ancient buildings to build houses between city walls. Even most imposing castle of Cantal was used as a prison. After several fires and heavy rains, deserted ancient city became more and more dilapidated, and calls for its demolition sounded louder and louder. Fortunately, in 1835, historian Cross-Merviy opposed all opinions and saved ancient city from disaster.
In 1855, famous architect Viol Le Duc received approval of Napoleon III and began to carry out a comprehensive reconstruction of ancient city. Violle-le-Duc once led maintenance projects of Notre-Dame Cathedral and Notre-Dame Cathedral in Amiens and is a pioneer in protection of French heritage. His restoration work in ancient city of Carcassonne continued until 1913, and he himself died in 1879, before completion of period of work. Violle-le-Duc restored ancient city with good intentions, but was criticized by French heritage protection circle as "disregard for original appearance of ancient buildings, and over-restoration leads to ancient city losing its charm." with local red burnt tiles. Looking at it today, despite fact that renovation project he planned was only 30% complete and there were technical errors, he revived ancient city that is hanging by a thread, and did so in 1997. as a world heritage.
The most beautiful fireworks in honor of National Day
In addition to wonderful time travel, reporter traveled to Carcassonne to see legendary "most beautiful fireworks display" on National Day last year. From 4:00 pm, spectators from other places and even foreign countries gradually gathered around ancient city to "fight for seats" Roads, balconies, arched bridges, rivers and even fields were densely packed with people. According to media estimates, population of ancient city has grown from 50,000 to 700,000 people.
After a long wait of almost 7 hours, chic show started on time at 22:30: fire trees and silvery flowers, colorful fireworks, all kinds of fireworks rose from ancient city wall into night sky, and ancient city in smoke was covered with fireworks all over sky. “It’s so beautiful” and “I don’t regret anything in this life!” Under cries of people and admiration, every beautiful moment freezes into eternity on screen of a mobile phone.
After commotion, biggest problem everyone had to solve was how to get out of city because they were patiently waiting for 700,000 people to disperse. If you don't want to be stuck in a traffic jam for two or three hours, it's best to spend night in a nearby area. Although rooms are expensive and you need to book months in advance, store will sincerely say: "Carcassonne is worth money. Luxury."