Thursday, August 28, 2014

More places on the way to Lourdes

Trip to Aude/Midi-Pyrénées: Day 6 and 7
The entire route from Perpignan to Lourdes was crawling with mysterious chateaus, somber abbeys, sleepy churches and sun-kissed villages. If we'd stopped at every one of them, we'd never have gotten to Lourdes. So we had to pick and choose. In the last couple of posts, I covered the places where we spent a goodish amount of time. This post is a jumble bag of places where I hopped out, took a few shots, and hopped back in. Not enough material for a full post, but too good to throw away just the same. There were lots of other lovely places besides, where I did not even do that, for some reason. We simply zipped through. Something that I rather regret now. There was one particular town: the spa town of Bagnères-de-Bigorre. It was breathtakingly beautiful. But for some weird reason, I can't find a single photograph of it on the iPad. I can't believe I did not take a single shot there. Oh well. Some other time, perhaps. If I ever visit France again.
Tomorrow's post: we finally get to Lourdes.
Right, on to the pics. Here was our route again, to refresh your memory:

Bye-bye to Quéribus
A little after Perpignan, our path crossed castle Quéribus again -- from a distance. We caught a glimpse of Quéribus from the highway. We waved a teary goodbye to it.

Château de Quillan
A little while later, we caught a glimpse of castle Quillan. This is another Cathar castle. It was on my original Aude list (we were still in Aude at that point). But if we'd climbed up, half a day would have gone, at least. And Blandine had had a bellyful of ruined Cathar castles. I consoled myself with a shot from a distance.

Château de Puivert
Same story: another Cathar castle on my original Aude list, a little after Quillan
Château Lagarde
A little way before Mirepoix (which I covered in a previous post), we saw this rather interesting structure from a distance.
It turned out to be Château de Lagarde. Not a Cathar castle. We were in Midi-Pyrénées at this point. It is a 10th century Gothic castle. I wanted to go up and investigate, but Blandine refused to budge from the car. She did not like it much, for some reason. So I went as close as I could and took this one shot.

Abbaye d' Escaladieu
A little before the 'church by the wayside' of yesterday's post, just after the town of Mauvezin, we came across this somber abbey in a forest.

The Abbey of Escaladieu, a 12th century Cistercian abbey. Luckily, Blandine needed to take a bathroom break in the forest, so I had time to take a few close shots of the abbey. It was closed to visitors at that hour, so we could not go in. I believe it is an active abbey (with actual monks, that is). By the way, the town of Mauvezin too had a lovely old church. But by the time I thought of taking a picture of it, we had already zipped out of town.

The one that got away. A breathtakingly beautiful spa town, about twenty kilometers before Lourdes. It has quaint old houses, a lovely old church, a cobbled town square and a bubbling brook runs through it. We had stopped there for lunch. We spent the whole time looking around for an open restaurant, but the town was closed down tight. We did not see a single other person. Finally, we made do with some stale biscuits that we still had leftover in the car. We actually spent a good hour or two there, but I don't seem to have taken a single picture. Possibly because we were too engrossed in foraging for food. Anyhow, here are a couple of pics 'borrowed' from Wiki commons. This series of posts is not just for you, dear readers. It is also to help me preserve my memories. That is why I borrow pictures when I don't have them on my iPad.

Image Credits for Bagnères-de-Bigorre: Serge Ottaviani from Wiki Commons
Except Pic of the river which is from

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