Published: July 21st 2008July 21st 2008
In the Pyrenees we will stay 2 nights at ( gite.ossau.free.fr ) in the town of Izeste about 25 km south of Pau. Our hotel is actually a 3 room Bed and Breakfast. The Pyrenees are new and very rugged mountains. There is a rarity and great elevation of passes and a large number of the mountain streams, which often form lofty waterfalls, surpassed in Europe only by those of Scandinavia. The upper end of a valleys assumes the form of a semicircle of precipitous cliffs. From our bed and breakfast in Izeste, we will travel to the Aspe Valley to the Gorges de Kakuetta. The gorge stretches for 2km with vertical walls rising up to 350m high and yet
seldom more than a few metres apart. It is understandable that except for mid summer little light penetrates in such a deep narrow gorge and so the climate is chilly and similar to temperate rainforest. On the way back to the B+B, we visited some Basque villages ( home of the famous “French” berets. In this exceptionally charming region, a warm people with a very strong sense of community speak a peculiar language from another world, or so it seems.
Maria near the gorge
The world famous Gorges de Kakouetta
The Basque language, "Euskara” sound similarities with Turkish or even Finnish and Japanese. It is one of the oldest known languages, and has been spoken for more than 4,000 years in this region, having resisted the invasion of Indo-European languages. It existed there before the greek, latin, slavic, germanic, celtic and anglo-saxon languages that followed and it still persists today. It can be heard in traditional songs and tales or spoken in the countryside.
From the Pyrenees, we will drive to Montpellier via Toulouse. In the Toulouse area we will stay 1 night at ( www.lamasquiere.com ) . This is a 5 room B+B about 30km east of Toulouse. Our B+B is right beside the Canal Du Midi .In the 1600s, the idea of building a canal that would cross the French countryside to link together the ocean and the sea was pure and simple science fiction. The main purpose of this canal was to make it easier to transport freight by cutting across the land. In fact, the passage of the Straits of Gibraltar at the southern tip of Spain was particularly dangerous. Of course, this enterprise would never have taken off without the backing of the extremely ambitious
Louis XIV, or the intelligence of Colbert, who believed the power of the kingdom rested primarily on the development of commerce. However, it is without a doubt the boldness and stubbornness of one single man that enabled this gigantic project to become a reality. Indeed, Pierre-Paul Riquet devoted the last 14 years of his life to this outlandish undertaking: a 155 mile long canal that would run from Toulouse to the Thau Basin. “La gabelle” was a tax on salt, a large part of which was set aside for the king. Collecting it was a very well paid job, to compensate for the fact that the tax collector was held personally accountable with his own assets as collateral. This most unpopular tax was finally abolished during the French Revolution.
There are more photos below