You can’t visit Carcassonne without going to see The Cité, the medieval citadel restored at the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately the day we selected was cold, dark and dreary with a gale blowing, so my photos don’t do it justice. (The featured image was taken on a different day).
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse in The Cité
In the basilica Craig invited me to sit next to him for a few moments and Tony, sitting behind him, whispered, ‘are they here?’ Craig confirmed that they were, as he had seen two of them. Before I could ask who they were talking about, four men appeared in the semi darkness in front of the altar and began to sing. Goose bumps rose on my arms and tears ran down my cheeks, not because I am a religious person, but because it was so hauntingly beautiful. It occurred to me that I should be recording them, but I was so captivated I just couldn’t tear my eyes from the group and they only sang one other piece before drifting into the darkness as mysteriously as they appeared.
The men are Russian, from the ensemble, Doros and various members busk at the basilica throughout the day for a couple of months. I found one of the men selling their two CDs, one of religious music and the other of Russian folk music. I bought the religious one, hoping that the first number they sang would be on the CD, as I was fascinated by the juxtaposition of countertenor and oktavist or Basso Profundo (I’d never actually knew the word oktavist until I just looked up the name for someone who sings below bass!).
When I played my CD at home I discovered that the song I particularly liked wasn’t on it, so I searched the Internet to see where I could find their collection, but nothing at Amazon and nothing on iTunes – nothing at all – anywhere! It appears you can only buy their CDs from the basilica (and presumably anywhere else they are singing), however, I did find several videos on YouTube, from people who had visited the basilica and various other venues. I’ve copied the links to some of them here and hopefully you will be as enthralled as I was.
by Gordon Burns uploaded to YouTube on 20 September 2010
by SUMMIT Mountain published to YouTube 11 Sept 2014
Towards the very end of the next video you will catch a glimpse of a bare breast, so if it is likely to offend you, please do stop the video before it reaches 6.29. Otherwise it is well worth watching and gives you a great tour of the Cité on a glorious day.
by ChippycreekFilms uploaded to YouTube 24 January 2012
On our outward journey Tony had driven us to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and left the car there, but I only stayed with them in France for a week, as another friend was arriving the day I left. This meant I had to make my own way back from the airport. The flight from Carcassonne took two hours, but my 50 mile journey by bus, two trains and a taxi from Liverpool took more than three hours!
When I got home I thought I should try and write some thank-you notes in French to Tony and Craig’s friends who had so graciously invited us for meals. (I could have consulted two of my granddaughters, but they were just about to start their exams and one of my sons could have helped, but he was in the Middle East at the time). Knowing that you can’t trust Google Translate to mean what you intend I also looked at other translation sites on the Internet and between those and my English/French dictionary, I set about the drafts. I diligently cross-referenced everything and after three days I felt reasonably confident so wrote and posted the cards, with fingers crossed that I hadn’t inadvertently said something like, ‘your mother is a whore!’