I recently spent three weeks in France hosted by my old college roommate who lives there with his lovely wife. They live in the countryside in an old 1700’s farm house, converted on the inside with all the modern gadgets and conveniences that no one can now live without. They also have a swimming pool, and a garden and fruit trees, and about 3 acres of land, all surrounded by farmland. The house is situated on a ridge with pleasant and post-card ready views of the lovely countryside and small villages and towns that all have the ubiquitous cathedrals poking towards the sky. This adds an aura of irrepressible backwardness to the eye that is only partially mollified by the quaint nature of the views. Sunflowers, wheat, and hay are major crops in the area. The sunflowers were blooming just as I was leaving; a million brilliant yellow suns splashed across the landscape. Van Gogh’s ghost haunts the fields.
My hosts live near Toulouse which is about 40 minutes away by wimpy midget car; which is the main vehicle the French seem in love with. Wisely, my friend has a larger BMW SUV to push the irresponsible and stupid French drivers off the road and into the ditch.
I did a lot on this vacation, including a three-day side trip to Budapest, but for this first post I will give a pictorial rundown on a wonderful day of hiking in the Pyrenees – a border mountain range that holds back the ignorant and vile Spaniards from spilling over into France and terminally ruining their precious haute monde
We drove to a hotel-restaurant in the Pyrenees foothills and spent the night and got up early the next morning and drove to the trailhead and then did a 6 hour hike through some very lovely and steep country. The trail was very rocky and rough for most of the way but it was worth the effort. Pics and comments follow.
Hotel we stayed at:
My room - and yes those are skeleton keys on the bed, you hung them up on a hook near the hotel front door when you went out.
Hotel was right next to a split in the road up two different valleys. We hiked the Cirque de Cagateille.
And at the junction of two lovely mountain streams. We ate dinner outside on a terrace overlooking the two streams. I had cassoulet, a local dish.
At the Trailhead, looking up valley.
View across valley.
Another view up valley at starting point.
Cirque valley; note all the tumbling cascades and waterfalls along the steep valley walls.
Approximately same view; note the very handsome hiker in foreground.
View back down valley on hike up.
The weather became cloudy/foggy on our hike up but it was in and out, so we still had great views. Following is a picture of a ridge showing the steep and angular terrain of this part of the Pyrenees.
My friend Stuart: he considers himself British and has the passport to prove it. He spent many years in the USA and is also a US Citizen. Wisely he has skipped becoming a froggy, though he has lived in France for more than 20 years.
Lake we hike to (a tarn lake, meaning glacier cut and formed).
Thousands of wildflowers were blooming.
The following are some general views of the area from the hiking trail:
The main road up to the trailhead was narrow to say the least. Following are photos of the road and villages we went through that I took from the car on the drive up:
The hike was strenuous but very enjoyable and the views and terrain are obviously spectacular. It was a wonderful day and adventure. The drive home was only about 2 hours. We did a quick swim in the pool and had dinner – roasted chicken and a fresh salad made from the garden - And a great wine.
I'll post more about the trip as I find time etc...and will answer questions........