We spent the second day of our trip exploring the French countryside outside of Carcassonne for half of the day. For the cost of one Euro per ticket, we took a train ride from the medieval city to Couiza and Montazels, which is ninety minutes away from the Spanish border. Couiza is a small town, and Montazels is a commune neighboring Couiza. With the forty minutes train ride from Carcassonne we saw vast green lands plotted with small towns or large villages. Houses and buildings are old with terracotta roof tops and have a medieval layout like Carcassonne. Besides the buildings of these small towns, rivers, lakes, and hilltops add to its picturesque view.
Walking around Couiza and Montazels, the streets are narrow and the roads are not pedestrian friendly. These small towns are limited to what’s available, but they do have a boulangerie, market, pharmacy, hair salon, electric shop, post office, bars, tabac, cafes and restaurants. Having a car is almost a necessity to live out at these places.
The French countryside is serene and quiet, and the air quality is unbeatable compared to the pollution in Paris. We were happy to finally breathe some fresh air, and that is one thing we definitely miss for our health.
The people we spoke with in Couiza and Montazels were extremely nice and helpful. We got lost walking around there and needed to find the train station, and although English is spoken very little in these parts, a couple of people tried their best to help us. A lady gave us directions in French, which we understood enough to get to the area, and when we got there an elderly man walked with us to show us the train station’s exact location. This friendly and welcoming attitude was not only observed in Couiza and Montazel, but also in Carcassonne. While shopping around Carcassonne, we were pleasantly surprised by how friendly and chatty people were in shops, cafes and restaurants. It was definitely a different vibe than what we’re used to in Paris, and we appreciated it.
If we had a car, we would love to live out in Couiza, but without it, it is not practical for our lifestyle. I’m sure we could manage without a car, but having to be on a work schedule makes it less flexible to not have one. Nevertheless we were glad to have had this experience, and grateful for the hospitality of these country folks.