Thursday, August 21, 2014

Camon, the village of roses

Trip to Not Aude:(Day 6)
So there we were, breakfasting at our hotel in Perpignan, all ready to convert our castle trail in Aude into a Spanish treasure hunt. When Blandine had another of her quicksilver mood changes. She did not want to go to Spain any more. But she was darned if she would set foot in another Cathar castle. That hadn't changed.
I gingerly put forward a suggestion, like a cat placing a dead rat at his mistress's feet, not sure what the reception would be.
Lourdes, I said.
Lourdes had been a long-running battle of will between us. It was the first place I had wanted to see in France. Blandine had vetoed it, time and again. Lourdes, as you might know, is the famous pilgrimage spot in France. Not that I'm terribly religious, but I had a specific reason for wanting to go there. I had based one of my novels in that holy town, without ever having seen it (Perl and the Psychotic Mutant Space Cattle - read about it here). Now that I was in France, I wanted to see the place in which I had lived, in my imagination, all that long year while writing the novel. But Blandine had her own reasons for not wanting to go there. She had been dragged there as a child virtually every year by her deeply religious Catholic parents. She was damned if she would go back, now that she was an adult and presumably in control of her own life.
So, as I said, I deposited Lourdes with the air of a tentative tomcat.
Surprisingly, Blandine agreed. Without a murmur. Possibly the fact that we had worked our way so far down south that we were just a hop away from Lourdes had something to do with it. Or possibly it was the fact that, despite everything, she loved me dearly. Anyhow, she agreed.
I worked out the route. As usual, we decided to take the scenic route, avoiding highways and taking in a few beaux villages along the way. Here is the route I made: the stars mark our original Aude route, and the blue strip the new route.

The first beau village on our route was Camon. You hit it the moment you cross the border of Aude and the region of Languedoc-Roussillon. We were now officially in the region of Midi-Pyrénées, the region of Lourdes. Camon is a 10th century village, centered around an abbey on the banks of the river Hers. It still has stone houses dating back to the 10th century. Today, it is most known for its roses. This is an ancient wine growing region, and like many older wine growing regions, they grew roses along with the grape wines. The theory was that the roses acted as a kind of health-indicator for the grape wines. Since roses are a lot more delicate, they succumb first to diseases thereby giving the winegrower advance warning. From growing roses in the vineyard to turning the village into a rose village was a small, logical step.
Here are some pics I took of Camon:  the arched gate of the village, the rose covered cottages, the 10th century abbey...

The arched gate of the village, as you enter

 The gate, from the other side

Rose covered cottages...

The Abbey

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