Saturday, May 31, 2014

Europe day 11: Chateau de Peyrepertuse

Another big tour today. We visited the Chateau de Peyrepertuse and the Gorges de Galamus, both among the most popular tourist destinations of the area.

The chateau is one of the most spectacular Cathar fortifications, and it costs EUR 6.50 per adult to visit. This is the upper castle of Peyrepertuse as seen from the lower castle. Even getting to the lower level is already a tiresome climb; getting up there even more so.

But it is so worth it - here is the view of the lower castle from the upper one. Note the many corners of the structure. The builders had to construct it into the rock, making use of whatever space they could find. I wondered in what was labelled the governor's room why there was so much rock on its floor that nobody had chiselled away, and whether the apartment had two maisonette-style levels of wooden floor when the castle was in use.

The second locality we visited were the Gorges de Galamus. If you look closely you can see the is a hermitage built onto the shoulder of the mountain in the middle of the picture. There is a path to the hermitage but we decided we did not have the time to visit it.

And this is the gorge itself. The tiny figures on the right are my wife and daughter, to demonstrate just how deep and steep the valley is. Unfortunately, a French society of vintage car enthusiasts decided to have their annual meeting in the area, and when we had to pass through the gorge their convoy of dozens of cars came the other way. Which is not something that the gorge can easily accommodate.

(Interesting, by the way, that the people in those vintage cars were nearly all elderly couples, in the driver's seat were always the men and never the women, and they had rather annoyingly smug expressions while driving. I am afraid that extreme car enthusiasts in general are probably not my kind of people.)

This may not be the prettiest plant I could show, but it is of the plant group I work on professionally. Phagnalon sordidum (Asteraceae), a half-shrub of rocky slopes and walls, here seen in the Gorges de Galamus.

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