Friday, March 23, 2007


We stopped for the night in Castelnaudary, which I reckon is another way of saying Châteauneuf du roy, or King's Newcastle. So there you go. Today there are about 11,000 Chauriens* living there.

Whatever its linguistic origins, Castelnaudary is known for its cassoulet, a stew of white beans or lingots, duck confit, pork, lamb, and sausages. This is why we stopped here.

Our hotel, l'Hôtel du Centre et du Lauragais. The restaurant is on the ground floor and our room is the window directly beneath the "et du" of the sign.

Evening was upon us when we arrived and we quickly found a hotel in the center of town. The main square across from the hotel was host to a carnival midway - this was the week of la Toussaint, or All Saint's Day, in France : November 1. Cities and villages all over France set up carnivals this time of year; it's a national holiday and schools are out for a week. We checked into our hotel and took a little walk while the sun went down.

The view from our room onto the square. You can see the bumper cars just behind the guys playing boules.

The Canal du Midi goes right through Castelnaudary. At one end of town it widens out into a basin that stores water to operate the four locks on the eastern side.

The Grand Bassin at sunset.

The hotel room was nice, overlooking the carnival square, but it had one peculiarity that I'll never forget : the bathroom's toilet. Inside the bowl, at the bottom, was a rubber gasket that looked strangely like the splash guard of a kitchen sink garbage disposal unit. I didn't figure it out until after I flushed, at which point a little grinder in the base of the toilet went to work, not at all unlike the aforementioned kitchen garbage disposal unit. This was necessary because the older waste pipes in the building were not large enough to handle (ahem) solid waste unless it was chopped into more manageable bits.

I'll wait until tomorrow's post to describe our dinner that evening.

* Throughout these posts I'm trying to include the name for the inhabitants of each of the towns and cities that I mention. Every town and city in France has an official name for its inhabitants. Funny, but I still don't know the name for the citizens of the town I live in. I'll have to work on that.


  1. OK, the disposal in the toilet is a new one for me. And I thought I had a lot of odd ca-ca stories!

  2. papa - thanks for all the comments ! I love the French bathroom experience. It's always so varied, so new. I used to feel inferior since I was never able to bathe without completely soaking a French bathroom. I've gained experience and now the force is with me.


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