One of the books I am currently reading is ‘The Perfect Heresy: The Life and Death of the Cathars‘ by Stephen O’Shea. At the beginning of the chapter on Carcassonne there is a perfect description of what I saw and how I felt when I caught my first fleeting glimpse of Carcassonne as I traveled from Toulouse airport:
TO APPROACH CARCASSONNE for the first time is to dream with your eyes open. the turrets and bastions of the old city stand on a deceptive rise in the valley of the River Aude, so the crenelated citadel appears suddenly, floating in the middle distance, a visitor from another time. The tan stone blocks of the ramparts turn auburn, then mauve in the late afternoon sun.