Europe, France, Languedoc-Roussillon

Mystique in the mythical south of France

No Comments 8 August 2010

Mystique in the mythical south of France

In January 2002, the Monkey adopted his French moniker (Le Singe) and made haste for the beautiful Languedoc-Roussillon region, deep in the country’s south. It’s a land of farming villages punctuated by the ruins of ancient abbeys and the fortifications of castles. The Monkey was so busy admiring the sights that he nearly forgot to get any photos, but here are a few. Enjoy.


Carcassonne, France
Le Singe peeks out from behind a wall in the famous medieval city of Carcassonne. The city’s massive ring of double walls and hilltop location helped ensure that only the longest of sieges could bring the city down. While large sections of the 12th and 13th Century walls and buildings are still intact, Carcassonne received a major restoration in the 19th Century that left parts of it looking a bit “Disneyfied.” Still, the Monkey enjoyed his visit to Carcassonne’s old city. He recommends going in January to avoid the throng of tourists in other seasons.

Rennes-le-Château, France
The Monkey takes in a splendid view on a sunny morning in Rennes-le-Château, in the south of France. The village sits atop a hill of 435 meters, and far below you can see the morning mists in the lowlands. Today, the village is quite sleepy, and has only 113 inhabitants.

But Rennes-le-Château has a great mystery to it. Researchers have noted strange phenomena they claim are of great significance. As the Saunière Society states, “Starting from a pin-point on the map of France, research has led to a most intricate labyrinth of diverse information which has radiated outwards from this centre in a most complex geometrical pattern that threatens to become all-embracing… Historically it covers a time-span thought to stretch over some thousands of years with strong hints that it might stretch even further. Scientifically it revealed a number of enigma that screamed for in-depth research.”

Bérènger SaunièreAdding to the occultish atmosphere of the village is the bizarre historical character, the priest Bérènger Saunière, who discovered coded parchments while renovating his parish church that brought him immense wealth. He built a lavish parish complex for himself, including the tower behind the Monkey, which served as his library. Even the Vatican investigated the parchments but to no avail. He died penniless, having left his inheritance to his maid, with whom he is suspected of having had a long affair.

The Monkey isn’t sure about all the alchemy and pentagrams and such, but he certainly enjoyed the views in Rennes-le-Château.

Alets-les-Bains, France
The Monkey in Alet-les-Bains, in the Roussillon region of southern France, January 2002. With its medieval houses, ruined 12th Century abbey, thermal baths, and lovely stone bridge over the River Aude, the Monkey could have chosen a better spot to pose… For a sample, see the image below.

Alet-les-Bains, France
You’ll have to imagine the Monkey in this photo from gorgeous Alet-les-Bains.



This Monkey adventure has been viewed 970 times since the 2010 website relaunch.

France

   FAST FACTS


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Population:

61,037,510 (2008)

Land area:

545,630 sq. km.

Capital:

Paris (pop: 2,144,700; 2005)

Economy:

In 2006, France ranked 16th in the UNDP Human Development Index and 6th in total GDP, with a per capita GDP of $36,546.72. Public debt accounts for 63.9 percent of total GDP, while 6.2 percent of the French are beneath the poverty line.

Main language(s):

French

Monkey's name:

Le Singe (luh sonzh)

Fun fact:

France produces over 400 varieties of cheese. It is also the world’s top wine producer, generating 57,541 hectoliters of the good stuff in 2000. No news here, really.



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