IMG_4898Yeah, everybody does 5k races, and everybody even does them throwing colored powder at the runners. But not everybody does them around a medieval fortress.IMG_4802We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

On Saturday, the young, healthy and energetic citizens of the city gathered along the Aude river for “Color My Run.” It’s in English because that’s cool, authentic. The symbol is a castle because … France.IMG_4758I know these color runs have been a thing for quite a while, but we are in France profonde–deepest France–and it was a first here. Put together by a group of students (more cheers for young people!), with proceeds going to Secours Populaire, or People’s Relief.

It was all organized in usual French fashion, which is to say, extremely organized, except that, in European fashion (I won’t pin it solely on the French, since a number of other nationalities do it, too), the lines were more amoebas than lines, but at least they moved quickly. The young organizers scanned participants’ tickets (you had to sign up online–of course) with their phones (of course. Does anybody use phones to call? I don’t think so, but they do everything else). It helps that Carcassonne is small and not very cut-throat. People are still registering at the starting time? Well, we’ll wait until everybody is ready. Plenty of time! Relax!

I tell you, life here is good. Even people running a race have all the time in the world.IMG_4765We were not on top of the fashion situation, because lots of runners came decked out in crazy outfits.

You can see a couple of runners on the other side of the river. Gorgeous place to work out.

IMG_4767One group of young ladies even dyed their hair, half green, half red. That’s dedication.

The red-headed guy with red shorts was the first finisher, by a long shot. He loped by alone as if it were the easiest thing in the world. Amazing.

The runners took off along the Quai Bellevue–it does have a pretty view–then crossed the 14th century Pont Vieux, or old bridge, which is entirely pedestrian.IMG_4771

A sea of white T-shirts on the bridge. It’s so pretty here.

IMG_4843IMG_4872I thought the route was going to be an easy loop along one side of the river–semi-wild, very pretty parkland because it’s in a flood zone–and then on the other–more parks, all flat. However, just after the bridge, the route included a quad-melting climb to the walls of la Cité.IMG_4828IMG_4810

The powder was corn starch with food coloring.

There’s a new art installation, called Eccentric Concentric, by Felice Varini, with 15 yellow circles on the ramparts. I am no art critic, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but to me it looks like either the symbol for wifi or the symbol on the highways to warn that there’s a radar ahead.IMG_4868IMG_4866As long as it’s temporary.

When I lived in New York, first I was downtown and constantly marveled at the high-rises and bright lights. I’d go to the top of the World Trade Center just because it was nearby and always a thrill. Later, I lived in Brooklyn and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge to go home, always gazing in wonder at the view out the back window, even after years of it. Now, it’s la Cité that makes me pinch myself. How is it possible that such a place existed? An even bigger question: How is it possible it still is intact today?

The bridge, the castle….even the “new” town is from 1260. Pinch me.

To do something as universal and ordinary as running, while in the shadow of such a place, well, I never can believe it’s real, even after so many years.IMG_4783The thing is, all the stuff around it is so pretty but la Cité is so awesome you don’t even notice the rest. Like the pretty little dam on the river with a little footbridge.IMG_4799At the end of the run, which was noncompetitive, there was an afternoon rave with the cutest DJ brothers. They clearly took their work very seriously, and made playing music look as complex as any scene from the command deck of a space ship that’s under attack, yet they seemed to enjoy it at the same time. The post-run crowd relaxed by jumping madly (after a run!) and had good, clean fun, as you can see below.

A smoke machine! The DJs lead the dancing.

IMG_4910IMG_4901IMG_4896IMG_4888IMG_4876And if anybody now has an earworm of Chicago crooning “Color My World,” bringing back a flood of prom and homecoming memories, well, maybe next time you will run, too?IMG_4895





21 thoughts on “Color My World

  1. Great to see photos of “other” Carcassonne. La Cite is unequivocally a remarkable and beautiful reminder of a bygone time, but the rest of the city is also filled with charm. When I lived in the Languedoc (Roquebrun) everyone who came to me from the US got dragged off to La Cite, and they were all amazed. In spite of the gauntlet of rubber swords one must walk through when entering the old gates. Friends and I did a self-drive boat for a week on the Canal du Midi and we tied up one night at Carcassonne, what a treat. One can fault Viollet le Duc for adding “inauthentic” witches hats roofs to what was once crenellated, but its a small price to pay for its preservation.
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The riverbank parks are gorgeous, and just a little bit wild–it’s nice to see nature and not just perfectly groomed flowerbeds (which there are, also). What impressed me the most, though, was how nice everybody was. A real party atmosphere. No stress.


  2. We were in Carcassonne yesterday! Our eldest son and his girlfriend were spending a few days with us and we introduced them to La Cité. I was a little taken aback by the yellow marks on the walls which were still being installed. I understand that art is very personal but it just didn’t do it for me. Great post and photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks like a fun time was had by all!! Hadn’t seen the coloured powder stuff before, but whatever…. I’ll have to have a look at the ‘artwork’ on the walls of the cite, do you knwo how long it’ll be up??

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Far too long, methinks. But then I fail to see the relationship between a modern art installation and an ancient site. Most of them don’t relate to the site and look very superimposed, and imho do not enhance either one.
        bonnie in provence

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Back when my kid was in elementary school and I was on the PTA, I pushed to do one as a fund-raiser after hearing friends in the U.S. talk about it. The rest of the PTA thought I was completely off my rocker.


  4. First time I saw a Holi Festival was in Paris a couple of years ago. Your photos and stories are really interesting. It might be because I love the slower pace and views of the countryside. And France and french culture are a great part of my heart and soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This looks like a wonderful way to raise money. I had not heard of the colored dust before but it looks fun. As for the art on your castle, I am not a fan but it is nice to be exposed to all sorts of art.

    Michele is a sweetheart, I am off to check out the post on your apartments.

    Liked by 1 person

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