The Pyrenees and their biggest fan.

We’ve been invited this week, in the Lens-Artists Challenge #65 to pick a place that’s captured our hearts.  I barely had to stop and think.  The Pyrenees has the power, even more than my beloved Yorkshire Dales, to stir my soul, to inspire and awe, to soothe and quieten me.

Le Cap du Carmil.

These mountains formed the backdrop to our lives in France.  We were in the foothills, but even a twenty minute drive had us steadily climbing to the higher peaks.  Here was where we spent our Sundays with our walking friends, getting our heartbeats up with stoical climbs in the morning, before a leisurely picnic with those slopes all around us: craggy, alive with butterflies, bugs and beetles  and sturdy yet delicate wildflowers: then an afternoon dropping down once more to the valley.

Here was where, for much of the year, we could see snow-covered peaks in the distance, while nearby were meadows with gentians, impossible numbers of orchids, poppies, and early in the spring, wild daffodils.

A drive over to see Emily in Barcelona meant crossing the very highest peaks: dizzying climbs, vertiginous descents.  Our own ‘patch’ was less demanding, more homely, with sheep, cattle and donkeys grazing the meadows among beech and oak wooded slopes.

There was history here: the revivalist Christian Cathars flourished.  There was industry – talc mining, textiles, now all gone.  Farming and tourism are what remains.  And the Pyrenees always provided a barrier and a stronghold in times of conflict.  For us though, for more than six years, it was simply … home.

 

The midsummer solstice: sunrise from Montsegur.

An entry for Lens-Artists Challenge #65: Pick a place

And also for Fan of …# 35

50 thoughts on “The Pyrenees and their biggest fan.”

  1. Looking great and not too touristic in the Pyrenees! We are just preparing for a hiking and wandering trip in Bohemia starting on Thursday where I fear the weather will be much worse now. 🙂

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  2. Glorious as always. I shall definitely visit Cap du Carmil but I Googled étang des druides and was offered nothing close by, only truites! Those lakes looked lovely too but we go in a couple of weeks so I thought we could go and look.

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    1. Truites is correct too. It goes by both names. Definitely worth a visit: https://margaret21.com/2012/08/27/in-search-of-a-a-druid-or-a-trout/, and here: https://www.lacsdespyrenees.com/lac-463-Etang%20des%20Truites.html. You’ll definitely need a map if you haven’t a local guide, but so long as you begin correctly, I seem to remember it’s fairly straightforward. Give it my love! And Cap du Carmil may be my favourite walk, with a spectacular drive there too.https://margaret21.com/2012/06/07/above-us-only-skylarks/

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  3. It really is stunning scenery and it sounds like a fine place to have lived, and to visit occasionally. Your post gets me thinking, too, about the places that capture my heart . . . .

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    1. I did – I do – love them. They brought me so much, from their scenery, whether majestic or more domestic in scale, to the wildlife – over 60 varieties of orchid to be seen, and often, in our patch alone. The rhythms and traditions of country life….. I could go on, but … I’ll shut up now.

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  4. I have known of the Pyrenees since I was in Year 5 at school, where we learnt by rote a poem about the “fleas that tease in the high Pyrenees and the wine that tasted of the tar” – Do you remember an inn, Miranda? ” Why I remember this lyrics after all these years is testament to the success of rote learning or perhaps brain washing? Seriously though, the area looks like a cross between Norway and Switzerland – two of my favourite places. I shall have to google some places there for my holiday wishlist. Have you some recommendations?

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    1. Ah! My first introduction to the Pyrenees too, though I still don’t know the Spanish Pyrenees well. Visiting? It depends what you want. Starting in the west, near the Atlantic, the Basque country is wet. But like Ireland, it’s thanks to this that the scenery is so green and lush. High Pyrenees next. Try Googling Cirque de Gavarnie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirque_de_Gavarnie. As you approach the slightly lower Ariège, Saint Girons is worth a visit, especially for what may be one of the best markets in Europe, on a Saturday morning. We lived fairly near the county town, Foix, with its fairy tale castle. Continuing eastwards towards Catalan country, the scenery becomes more arid: an important wine growing area, and as Sue mentions, some fine ancient castles, such as Queribus and Puylaurens. They’re all so different in character, but nowhere is crowded. So it really depends which tye of scenery appeals and go from there. If you do get as far as some actual planning – happy to help!

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      1. Okay Margaret, I have been cyber travelling through the Pyrenees for the past little while thanks to your comprehensive recommendations. Thanks ever so much for them. I was full of admiration for Foix and that wonderful chateau with dragon keeps and tall towers. Fairy tale indeed. The Catalan country reminded me of Italian scenery somewhat. Although the High Pyrenees was spectacular. So West and High Pyrenees would be for me! Now I have something as a base line. Many thanks!

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  5. Oh, The Pyrenees are wonderful! Lovely lovely images (the cows are gorgeous…) and I have no problem at all understanding your love. I have hiked there and seen so many wonderful butterflies, flora and fauna. I would love to visit again – lucky you having spent so much time there.

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  6. Big skies, big landscapes, big mountains and interesting moods across the seasons. On a smaller scale the flowers and animals are so charming and lovely. Your photos convey something of what seems to be a bewitching variety in the beautiful region that captured your heart. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It’s the richness of variety in the natural world that is among the treasures of the Pyrenees. Any meadow is a veritable zoo or botanical garden of life-forms. Combined with the tapestry of its landscapes, how could I not be enraptured?

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  7. I was always a little envious of your mountains but I could never persuade Andrew to head that far south. I remember your walks, almost always involving cake somewhere along the route.

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    1. Cake? That was the least of it. Lunchtimes were a lazy feast, starting of with an apero, and continuing with someone’s home-cured sausage, someone’s daughter’s home-made sheeps’ cheese, wine, and finishing with a sugar cube drenched in someone else’s home-made and utterly lethal eau-de-vie. Fantastic memories…..

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