Thursday, 28 May 2009

A trip to the South, Day 3

The first chateau we had intended to visit was closed, so we carried on to Puivert. It was particulalry nice, with certain rooms being furnished, and the only secular hall in Europe at that time, with carvings of musicicans. It is privately owned, and we managed to chat to the owner. What an indertaking to restore it!

We ate lunch under one of the most famous of the castles, for the wrong reasons...200 cathars were burnt to death at Monts├ęgur. The weather was poor, and we couldn't actually see the chateau, but the village was very pretty.

It was a fair hike up, and we got above the clouds....nearly 1700m I think. And at the end of the day it was a bit of a disapointment, expecially after Puivert... this was a ruin.

It seemed to be relying on the fact of the martyrdom of the 200 Cathars. After all, to pay 5 euros for a 20/30 minute hike, and then have just the walls to see......If the weather had been better, then I think it would have been better....the sheer inacessability of the place, and its dominance over the passes would have been more obvious. You could however imagine why these castles had continued to have a strategic importance in the strugles between Spain and France.

We then drove towards a spot that LO wanted to share with springs! The trip was memorable, (especially the D29, a dirt track at one point, officially closed to traffic) and the landscape changed so often.....over a pass and it was quite different the other side. One of the beatiful things about France is the sheer diversity of the landscapes....and seascapes. We saw gentians by the side of the road, alpine meadows almost, warm sunshine, and the snow still on the peaks of the Pyrannees in the distance.

The hot springs were fun; there was also a sauna and turkish bath, so we relaxed in style. I enjoyed that there was a real cold plunge bath....not as extreme as the ice in Budapest, but exhilerating all the same!
Another nights camping; not easy to find a restaurant though.

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