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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