Thursday, April 18, 2019

A to Z Dans Les Pyreneés Avec Des Amis

A to Z Challenge Here

(In the Pyrenées with our friends..links to their FaceBook page)

In the Pyrenées heading west from Mérens-les-Vals, is a valley with a small village, St. Bertrand de Comminges, “One of the most Picturesque villages in France.” (video below...)
On a mountain overlooking this valley, tucked among tall pines is Murmures des Arbres, a Gites and chambres d’hôtes, and they let rooms year round. 
Our dear friends/now family Jean-Paul and Anne Delmas, own Murmures des Arbres (Murmurs Among The Trees) and we try to visit them every time we go to France. Jean-Paul and my husband have known each other since high school, climbed in the Pyrenées together for over nine years, and they have remained deep friends since my husband moved to the US. His daughter is my husband's goddaughter and became family when she married my cousin! We adore them all. 
Jean-Paul is an “Accompagniateur de Montagne,” basically a licensed mountaineering guide, and Anne is an art therapist who works with children and handles the accommodation side of the business. 
In the Gite getting ready to go walking with our little one

A view near St. Bertrand de Comminges

The Cathedral in St. Bertrand, a view from our hike

Two friends together again

Their set up is a perfect combination for anyone who likes to visit/hike in the mountains. Photos of inside and out of the Gites can be found HERE.
Jean-Paul knows the Pyrenées better than most as he has grown up climbing them. He’s done high altitude climbing there and all over the world. He is now in his “retirement,” “limiting” himself to guiding instead of pushing the boundaries he used to in his younger days. This visit he introduced us to “BungyPump” walking sticks, which I absolutely love. They are different from most walking sticks because they have a band inside which makes them “pump” up and down as you walk, so no jarring your arms. They help with balance while also giving your arms a workout. Perfect.
If you ever want a getaway up in the Pyrenées mountains where you will be treated like royalty, check out Murmures des Arbres and be sure to tell them I sent you…
Along the route

Ancient walls built by farmers for their herds and fields-no-longer

Never-ending beauty

Taking a break JP and me

Missed some of my A to Z 2019 posts? Well look no further...

Oppidum D'Enserune

All photos by Buie-Collard

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A to Z Oppidum D’Ensérune

On our journey westward following (as closely as we could) the Canal du Midi toward Capestang, near Nissan-lez-Ensérune we went looking for the famous Malpas Tunnel (first in the world) that Pierre-Paul Riquet risked constructing while building the Canal. The story goes that when work was halted because of the hill and slippery rock it contained, Riquet had his men construct the tunnel while he went to Paris to "persuade" the king to let him build it. By the time the king sent people to check, the tunnel was already finished, and was a wonder at the time, being the first one constructed in this way. Riquet had outsmarted those who tried to stop him (because yes, there were political intrigues back then, too).

Le Tunnel Malpas

In the tunnel, with our little one showing size, LOL
We love to visit ruins, and particularly Gaelic and/or Roman ruins, so when we realized we were so close to the Oppidum D’Ensérune/Village Gaulois D’Ensérune, a Gaelic site, we had to stop. The ruins are interesting because they are so high up above the plain, so well preserved and the site was continuously lived on from 6th century BC (CE) to 1st century AD (ACE), over 700 years, by the Celts. A beautiful spot, my imagination went wild thinking about what the surrounding area and the village nestled up on this high pedestal must have looked like in Gaelic times. It’s a bit desolate up here now among the ruins, but it must have been beautiful back in the day, because there would have been more trees and wildlife. 

If you click on the image you can read the English description in the middle

Some of the ruins we saw

More ruins, over two thousand years old...

A view from on high
The field of storage "pots"
Once we reached the plateau upon which sits the Oppidum, low and behold on the other side from where we came up was this:
The Montady "Pond" L'Etang de Montady
To give an idea of the immensity of this circle my hubby and our little guy

L'Etang de Montady (Montady Pond) which existed back in the Oppidum's day, but was more a lake/swamp. The ground is very fertile even now, and this is what has been done to best use it's resources. It is impressive to see the huge round “wheel” of farmland that draws the eye to it like a homing pigeon to its coop. So vast, so colorful, and so utilitarian. 

Le Canal du Midi See the barges and boats?

The Canal du Midi runs by the base of the promontory and going by the amount of boats we saw, is obviously a place of tranquility and rest for those cruising its waters. We couldn't stay as long as we wanted (there is so much to see), so we'll just have to return!
All photos by Buie-Collard