Saturday, May 24, 2008

Transit Day - Ariege Pyrenees ---> Languedoc Roussillon

Today we pack up and bid farwell to Sal and Austin at the Roquefort Cycle Lodge and head about 100km east to Belvianes-et-Cavirac and Les Eaux Tranquilles Chambre D'Hotes (Bed and Breakfast). We enjoyed our last breakfast at the Roquefort Cycle Lodge, and we will miss the fresh croissants that Austin fetched each morning. Its a rainy day, good day to be traveling.

We drove to Montsegur Chateau, probably the most significant Cathar Castle. On 16-March-1244, the remaining 220 or so Cathars were rounded up and burned in what is known as the Field of the Cremated or prat dels cremats. While its true that there were Cathars after 1244, the tragedy at Montsegur marked the disappearance of Catharism.

The rain got heavier as we made the 30 minute climb up to Montsegur. Its a rocky climb and the rain made it slippery, but we were both determined to get to the top and check it out. Half way up there is a good view of the Village of Montsegur, pictured here. Unlike the other two castles that we toured, this one had 4 Euro admission fee. What remains is a very large castle, well worth the walk in the pouring rain.

We carried on to Quillan, which is just 5km north of our B&B, and had lunch at Le Capio. Le Capio has is a restaurant that has both English and French language menus. They have a good selection of Pesco-Vegetarian food. We both had pizza, and it was very good.

After lunch we checked in at Les Eaux Tranquilles Chambre D'Hotes, where we were met by Chris, the owner. He is a U.K. citizen who has retired to France. Chris and his wife Pat run the Chambre D'Hotes. Chris is a talker and is not afraid to share his opinions. He asked if we were more inclined to get our news from CNN or FOX, and I told him MSNBC. It was his way of sorting where our heads were.

After we unpacked we drove out to Gorges de Galamus and hiked down to the Hermitage se-Saint-Antoine that is located there. The Gendarmes (French Military Police) were randomly checking cars here. A gypsy looking couple with a dog drove up and were immediately pulled over and searched. Gorges de Galamus is very impressive, worth the trip out there.

Dinner at the Inn is optional, for just 20 Euros/person. We ended up booking a dinner tonight, and it was superb. Chris advised us that Formica had a plant in Quillan, but it (with 8,000 jobs) was shut down a few years ago. He suggested that we tell locals that we are Canadian, if we find ourselves in a conversation that includes anything about the Formica plant.


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