Saturday, 30 April 2011

Happy Hooker

Not as bad as it sounds, its the story of a retired rugby star and hooker, Serge Dubois and his adventures running the 'Bar Des Chasseurs' in the ancient walled town of Castelverdun located in the South West of France.

He is constantly bemused by the comings and goings of his local and foreign customers. The tales told are those typical of life nowadays in many of the small French towns in this region.

The author Jonathan Veale lives, funnily enough,in a small medieval village in the Aude department of Languedoc Roussillon called Verdun, hmmmm, and has very kindly given me a copy of his book; which I am currently enjoying reading.

You can find out more about Jonathan and what he is up to via his website detailing how to write and publish a book. Something he does very well and this book is proof that he not only can write a book but knows how to get it published.

We get up to all sorts down here in the South of France to make sure we can remain here and continue to enjoy our life in France.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Cascades De L'Argentouire

OK it's going to look a little like I am obsessed with cascades and waterfalls, but I have got a new video camera and I am determined to use it. Especially now that I have found a way of cutting the videos together and adding in extra slides and captions where I want to. Clever or what; I think I can actually hear you saying 'what'!! Particularly if you have spotted the last slide that shows rather badly clipped. Oh well you can't win them all and it takes way too long to upload the whole video again.

The point of this video is, however, to provide a sort of guided tour for a woodland walk up past the cascades to Labecede and then back through the woods to the starting point of the walk. The starting point for us of course is Le Moulin and a swift march up the hill towards Labecede to the Sanglier woods, which adds about 10 minutes either end to the route shown on the video. So basically anyone staying at our gite can enjoy this walk without even thinking about burning up any of that expensive fuel for the car.

The cascades are best of course during the spring or autumn, when there is a good chance of a reasonable amount of water flow together with some sunny days to enjoy a stroll when the temperatures are at a reasonable level for walking.

We walk this route fairly regularly with the dog in tow. But we did find it a little bit tricky the first time trying to establish a circular route back down the hill; rather than going straight up and down. Once you know the way it is pretty simple and what I would like to know is whether the video actually conveys sufficient information to make the first pass as easy as the rest.

We don't always go into the village because the scamper up the hill from the woodland walk is quite steep and we have been a few times now. But if you have never walked around Labecede, it is definitely worth the effort. The photograph is a little sample of the shabby chic architecture, but the views from up there across the Carcassonne plains are pretty impressive as well.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the video, it is my last one on cascades for a while I promise, and if you find yourself out this way then please let me know if the video helped you find your way around the route.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Cascades - Lac De St Ferreol And Revel

One of the favourite places guests at our gite have enjoyed over the years is the cascades at Lac de St Ferreol, especially the kids. Located just below the lake, the cascades can be a pretty impressive sight when the sluice gates are fully open and the water is in full flow. The cascades were created as part of the feed to the Canal Du Midi and are accompanied by a high pressure water fountain at the base of the falls. This uses simple water pressure, created by feeding the flow of water via ever decreasing diameters of pipe, to shoot the water jet what must be a good 10m into the air.

The lake is a great place to spend a day, you can relax on the beach, go swimming or make use of the many activities on offer such as canoeing, crazy golf or even horse riding. Then when you are ready for a change of scenery you can take a walk around the perimeter, explore the arboretum that is there, visit the museum dedicated to Pierre-Paul Riquet and then finish the day off admiring the cascades.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Gorge De Galamus & Ermitage St Antoine-de-Galamus

Taking a drive through the Gorge de Galamus will test the skills of any driver and it is relatively unlikely to be possible in anything much bigger than a Renault Megane.

The entry to the gorge is controlled with traffic lights during the more busy holiday periods in the summer which does give you a better chance in something bigger. But when we went, just recently at the beginning of April, you just had to take your chance versus what was coming the other way. So, as you will see from the video, it can involve a little bit of backing up and squeezing through tight spots here and there.

Ermitage St Antoine-de-Galamus
It is well worth the effort however, as this is a very scenic route that takes you off the D117 at Saint Paul De Fenouillet through the gorge, but stopping at Ermitage St Antoine-de-Galamus on the way. St Antoine de Galamus is a small chapel on the south side of the gorge which can be accessed via a rugged pathway from a very convenient car park.

It was closed when we were there, so we had to settle for taking a few photographs from the car park (you can see the chapel a little easier if you click on the photograph for a larger view). But it is open in the summer season and takes about 20 minutes on foot to get to it. Literally built into the rock face, below the road through the gorge, the buildings must have been a feat of engineering at the time it was built. Hard to imagine how it could be done with only the narrow rocky path for access.

We found ourselves on this route whilst heading for Bugarach, a mountain we can see from our village location in Issel, a good hour and a quarter from the gorge. This was a trip we have been wanting to make for a while so that we would be able to see the 'Magic Mountain' from a little closer up. After passing through the gorge you will come to a junction where a turn to the right will take you off to the Chateau's Peyrepertuse and Queribus. We opted to turn left and drive through Bugarach, our intended destination, and then on to Rennes Le Chateau.

Rennes Le Chateau
All in all we were a bit spoilt for choice for places to visit when we got there and still had plans to call into Limoux on the way back. We did do that by the way and bought some very nice cakes from the patisserie there for a little treat after dinner.

There is something very pleasant about driving through mountain passes in the sunshine, and I think we would highly recommend this route to anyone visiting the area. It actually would be relatively easy to include the chateau's in the itinerary as well with a slightly earlier start than we made.

Bugarach the Magic Mountain

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