Where fairy tales got their inspiration; Alina Hartounian; AP

France – Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne

Medieval city is getaway in the south of France

Somewhere at the intersection of fantasy and history stands the medieval city of Carcassonne, a castle-on-the-hill getaway in the south of France.

The Cite, as the walled-off hilltop section of Carcassonne is known, has been a strategically important hub for millennia. It was the stomping ground of Romans, Visigoths and Saracens and saw long bloody battles as borders and allegiances shifted.

Tourists streaming into the Cite get a taste of the mythology at the gate, where a reproduction bust of the Carcassonne’s purported namesake, Lady Carcas, stands. The eighth century figure is said to have ended a years-long siege by hurling a fat pig over the city’s walls to convince the invaders that the food-starved city could afford to waste such an animal.

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