April 14, 2008

Le Midi me manque!

Posted in Exploring, Travel tagged , , , , , at 9:50 pm by Lauren

The most exciting part of our year in France is coming soon: a visit to the South! Paris is nice, but I absolutely long for the South of France; now that I’m in the country, it’s just beyond my reach. I loved everything about Montpellier – the pleasantly mild weather, the pale yellow buildings that made the city sunny even in the (rare) rain, the fountains all of moss, the Occitan street signs, the cobbles and pedestrian thoroughfares, the slower way of living. The way I feel about Montpellier is the meaning of yearning for me.


Still, it’s more than just Montpellier. It’s the South! It’s the Mediterranean! It’s Montpellier, and it’s the mountains. And we’re going back.


This week I’ve been planning our trip back down to Montpellier and then to the Sentier Cathare. From Friday, May 23 to Monday, May 26 (Memorial Day weekend), we’ll be in Montpellier with Elizabeth. I expect a drink at O’Carolan’s in the Place du Petit Scel (our former home), a dinner at the Creperie de la Comedie (for which I may starve myself all day), a visit to the Esplanade and reminiscences near Jenna’s fountain, and a wide grin on my face all weekend.


On Monday, when we leave Montpellier, life gets even better. Instead of returning right away to Paris, we’re heading through Carcassonne to Quillan to hike the Sentier Cathare. This is the ancient (13th century) trail of the Cathars, leading from castle to castle. Sometimes I think I love the city, but the way I feel about the mountainside of the Midi-Pyrenees must be what heaven feels like. Of course, I’m conveniently forgetting the pain of hiking right now. I’ll remember soon enough. From Quillan, we’ll hike through Puivert (castle) to Espezel. The next day (our third wedding anniversary) will take us high into the mountains to Comus. Then we’ll descend and ascend again, in a short but grueling day, to Montsegur. (We won’t even sit down when we arrive at the hostel there because the ruined fortress of Montsegur will await us on the hill. We’ll climb the hill with refreshed tourists, feeling altogether like we’ve been given a great reward for our efforts to arrive at Montsegur. Then we’ll sit in the fortress and soak in the history.) After Montsegur, we’ll hike to Roquefixade, where we’ll take a detour after checking in to the hostel, to ensure that we see the ruined castle of Roquefixade itself. (I’ll flashback to Rebecca climbing on to the very top of the ruins and navigating it as if on a balance beam.) From Roquefixade the path itself becomes less interesting on the way to Foix, where we’ll board a train back to Paris.


Ah, le Sud! Le Midi! Montpellier et les Pyrenees! Vous me manquez!


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