It depends on your level of web programming knowledge. If you are "hardcore" then you can probably accomplish what you want in a simple program like Notepad, but besides what most people say, this isn't a good option.
I would definatly stick with a WYSIWYG editor. (What You See Is What You Get). I presonally prefer Dreamweaver, but have used GoLive and Front Page. I am not sure of any "free" options, but I am sure there are some Open Source programs out there.
You could say I've been around.