Le Cami des Encantats Revisited

Ariège, Blogging challenges, Festivals, Heritage, Patrimoine, Pyrénées

It’s that time of the month when I re-visit a blog post written during our years in France.  I’ve chosen this one because of the perspective it offers on rural life there,  a hundred or more years ago.  Because France – certainly where we were in the foothills of the Pyrenees – had no Industrial  Revolution, country life continued more or less unchanged for many until villages devastatingly lost their menfolk during the First World War.

Country life is country life, and some of these occupations would seem familiar to our own grandparents.  Others less so.  Have a look and see.

Le Cami des Encantats

July 26th 2012

Today we visited Benac, one of those  small and almost picture-postcard-pretty  villages outside Foix.  I think it’s unlikely that too many horny-handed sons and daughters of toil live there these days.  Too many freshly painted facades and cheery boxes of geraniums at the windows. Too many sleek and highly-polished cars.

But once upon a time it was a busy working community. For the last few years, every summer the villagers here and in nearby hamlets arrange carefully constructed and dressed figures into appropriate corners of both village and countryside.  These figures celebrate the way of life that persisted here – and throughout France – for centuries, and only died out some time after the First World War.  They call the route you follow to hunt out all these scenes Le Cami des Encantats: Occitan for something like ‘the Enchanted Path’.  Come with me and take a look. Click on any image for a closer look and a caption.

Square Perspectives

Unconsidered trifles

Ariège

We went to Foix today: county town of the Ariège, twinned with Ripon, not that anyone takes any notice of that.

It has a castle- a fairy tale castle if you’re that way out, or the scene of medieval jousting and chivalrous knights if you prefer.  It’s a Proper Castle, anyway.

We always enjoy pottering down the city’s narrow little streets, and today these are what we found there…..

…and later, in the mediaeval abbey church of Saint Volusien…….

The church of Saint Volusien.

……these jolly creatures were marching above us, near the high altar.

Click on any image to see full size.

Daffodils in the Dolomies

Ariège, Walking

Yesterday, we walked in Les Dolomies, which you could confuse with the Dolomites with its craggy pillars and rocky outcrops: though actually it’s a small area between Lavelanet and Foix, just along from Roquefixade.  After a few days of hot sun and blue skies, it was disappointing to have the threat of rain, but the slight mistiness brought its own beauty to the landscape, softening the distant views, and enhancing the vibrant greens of the springtime meadows. Everywhere, blossom and flowers.

We walked upwards through the woods.  Anny and Maguy had a surprise for us.  And quite suddenly, there they were.  Daffodils.  Thousands and thousands of them, extending upwards over the hillside, tumbling over rocks, leaving not an inch of path for us to walk along.  The weather cleared. The sun came out.  We were entirely happy.

Come and share the walk with us, along blossom-laden paths, through the daffodil woods, and then down into the valley, looking across at those still snow-covered peaks.

To view any of these photos  full-size, click on the image.