A tiny window of opportunity flashed open in my hectic summer schedule. As always, I grabbed it with both hands. Let’s head to France, I suggested. Flights to Carcassonne looked very reasonable, so I sorted them first. Now – where to base ourselves. I contacted a good friend in central Europe for his recommendations. “Have you tried Googling Carcassonne?” he asks. Within a day, I had booked a beautiful old-style French apartment with a terrace on AirBnB.

It’s not a huge town – population of under 50,000 – but the standout feature is obviously the old fortified town. Be under no illusions; in peak season, the fortified town is stuffed with tourists. So heed the advice of visiting early in the morning or later in the evening. You’ll enjoy it much more if you have a child to factor in, as we did. You’ll also avoid the worst of the summer heat – average summer temperatures can reach 28°C.