Walked out this evening from our back door onto the path behind the house that is the GR7, one of the long distance walking paths that leads across France to Spain. It reminds me of Laurie Lee, in the book we studied at school, stepping out from Stroud all those years ago in the age before the steam engine. Sonnac Sur L’Hers, in this unspoilt region of the Languedoc, doesn’t seem so far away from those times.
The meadows of wild flowers are stupendous, like nothing you see in England anymore. I can only speculate whether it has anything to do with the farming methods used in the two countries. Certainly from what I have seen in our region, the farms tend to be smaller (often due to succession laws) and the land is less intensively farmed, though of course there is a lot more of it.
Fields behind Chez Maison Bleue
The purest blue cornflowers, dancing in the gently evening breeze of the Aude, and dozens of co-ordinating, miniscule butterflies on the wing. A palette of red poppies, purple orchids (not sure how rare they might be) and yellow cowslips. A steep but short climb from the house is rewarded with sweeping views of the valley and the not too distant, mighty Pyrenees.
Perched on a hill above Chalabre, the Chappelle de Calvaire or the Church of the Calvery is visible, about half an hour from this spot, or a steep walk from Chalabre marked by ancient stations of the cross. We often take this walk into Chalabre and stop for lunch or at least a fancy cake from the boulangerie, you’ve earned it. An easier, flat walk back to the house along the cycle track gathering figs, blackberries and apples as you go, depending on the season.
Chalabre from the Chappelle