Monday, February 17, 2014

Mountain Trails, and the Road to Roquefere

One day, when the skies were blue and the air was slightly chilled, Jena invited me to acompany her on a walk to the next village, just down the hill, Roquefere.
As we left Labastide I noticed the date above this door, I hadn't walked this way at all, and it was amazing to see how old the buildings were in this little mountainside village.
Built in 1893.
These shutters are so pretty. It turned out that this house belonged to a British couple, both of whom are playwrights. 
Further down the road there was another marker in the top of an arch, 1888.
As we left the village I got a shot of the sign, at this point as was still having a hard time remembering how to say it. lol
We headed off down the hill. It is quite a quiet road.

Before we knew it Roquefere came into view.  Jena had been here before and visited the cafe.  
The river that runs through the vallley in Labastide also flows through Roquefere.

Roquefere has a huge chateaus right in its heart.  It is built right on the rocks, and reminded me of Mont St Michel and Carcassonne, where I saw this same technique. 

We passed the chateau and walked round the corner to the little cafe.
We had to pass the other restaurant in the village.  This one is a gourmet establishment and is mentioned in the MIchelin reivews.

La Fenial is open every day except Monday, but you have to ring the bell at the house next door, and the man will come and open up for you.  They sell crepes and croissants, amazing cafe creme and also postcards and local jams and delicacies. Jena bought some eggs from Madame.  
We had a lovely visit here and then headed back up the hill as it was getting dark. 
We passed more great buildings and the river.

A few days later, we decided to walk across the bridge at the bottom of our valley and up the opposite hillside and take the mountain route to Roquefere.
Jena had walked this earlier and seen the Pyranees. 
The river was low here, but later in our stay it became much stronger after some heavy rians.
The paths leading up the steep hill are quite narrow and lined with drystone walls,  They are well maintained and have rocks embedded on the ground so you don't  slip as you walk. 

At the top of the hill we met Miranda, who was having her lunch out doors and taking in the incredible view.  The weather was great, to say this was January.
Jena and I joined her for a while and took in the vista.
As we moved on, we passed more drystone walls.  Up here there are terraces made years ago, all using this technique, It is amazing to imagine how they built these supporting walls so long ago. 
One thing I noticed was how many of the trees still carried the dead brown leaves.  they hadn't all fallen off, like I am used to seeing.
We came upon a little hut on the hillside.

Here is the view looking down on Labastide from the opposite hillside.
And the views were wonderful.
Soon we joined the asphalt road that serviced the other side of the mountain.  We turned left and headed down towards Roquefere.
In the trees you can discover the ruins of old homes.
We saw these rocky structures on the skyline opposite and wondered what they were.  We asked at the cafe and were told that they were in fact the four Cathar chateaux at Lastours. We were just seeing them from the opposite side of the mountain.
Soon we got a view of Roquefere through the trees.
I spied this exposed tree root, and it was art to my eyes.
It was quite amazing to walk down the hill and see the village come closer and closer.

Here is the chateau from a grander perpsective.
And we could get a birds eye view of the Cemetary..

Before we knew it we were in the village. 
The chateau in the sinlight.
Everywhere in this hilly place you see tereraces built., allowing for gardens etc.

Once again past the river.
We made it too La Fenial, our little coffee shop  This time I treated myself to a crepe and a cafe creme, after our long hike.  It was with lemon juice and sugar and so good.
Inside La Fenial is very warm and homey. 
They do their menu in French and English.
After discovering about the history of the Cathar chateaux we had spotted on our way over the mountain paths, we set off back up the road to Labasaatide.  I was feeling pretty impressed with myself as we had had our entire conversation in the cafe in French.  :-)

All the villages are well lit with beautiful lamps at night.

Across the river I spotted this hut.  As it was so far away I did not realize that it was the lavoir, used by the village ladies to wash their clothes so many years ago. I had seen the one at the entrance to Labastide, but had not known what this hut was.  Only later when I was commenting on the fact that I hadn't seen a lavoir at Roquefere , did Jena explain that this was it. I never did get across to see it more closely.
Beautiful heather on the wall by the river.
Good bye to this charming village.  The air is so fresh and clear here, and the walking is so peaceful, as you hardly see another living soul. If and  when you do meet the locals, they are so friendly. 
I did do some more challenging walks, that took me many hours to arrive at distant villages, but that my friend, is another story.


hyasint said...

Wounderful Place! love the canals and the smal gates,is so different from here. so Nice for you to se al tis wounderful Place!

Pam Carr said...

It was very special to stay in the mountains in such a beautiful village. Thanks hyasint