Le cadeau

Friday 17 June

It rained last night but the morning sun soon dried my tent. I had planned to take a bus to see Rennes-le-Château but missed it and decided to walk. The path went (naturally) up through the nicer parts of Quillan by the river and passed the old castle. I continued through sandy dry woodland of fragrant pines, herbs and flowers and crested a ridge to follow a contour with views both sides, including the scarily named Las Murailles D’al Diable (devil walls), high sided cliffs and another gorge.

From Saint-Just-et-le-Bézu I headed north to Rennes-le-Château which seemed to take forever. It was humid but never quite rained, but I had endured a little too much road walking to be enjoyable. GaiaGPS doesn’t show features such as cliffs very well and I didn’t think to use the French IGN maps meaning I made a a long climb, only to be thwarted by jagged basalt cliffs and a long walk back through the woods to my start point. Still, there were good views from the cliffs.

The atmosphere at Rennes-le-Château was a bit like Glastonbury and it was certainly an interesting place if very touristy. I enjoyed a refreshing strawberry sorbet and pressed ever onwards. I stuck my thumb out and luckily a minibus of Canadian women gave me a lift back to Bugarach. Bugarach is famous for being the only place on earth predicted to survive the 2012 Mayan apocalypse.

The Buddist campsite here was close to perfection with a cooking shed, bar, restaurant, gité and chalets. They served a good breakfast. I spent the evening talking to a French chef who had worked in Cambridge and spoke very good English. He was travelling whilst he decided the direction of his next chapter.

Editors note: Today is our anniversary. I returned home from work to find a large parcel waiting for me, expecting thoughtful notes and a carefully chosen gift. Naturally, the parcel contained a bundle of stinky clothes and a trowel previously used to dig poop holes. *Facepalm*.

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