Lambing Season in Bezu

Aude sheep
The autumn lambing is taking place in Aude. We visited a smallholding in Bezu where David and Li-Fen keep a flock of Languedoc brown head sheep. The sheep spend their summers in the high Pyrenees joined with other local flocks under the watch of shepherds especially employed to tend the flocks. Then in autumn they are transported back to Bezu. David and Li-Fen have several collies to help manage the flock, and one large Pyrenees mountain dog to protect the flock. Unfortunately she has acquired a taste for lambs so during this sensitive month must remain chained. The flock is organic, living on a diet based entirely on wild flowers, with no immunizations. They look healthy for it.

A 'Rouge du Roussillon' with her lamb

A ‘Rouge du Roussillon’ with her lamb

The Rouge du Roussillon are plump sheep with an excellent temperament.

The Rouge du Roussillon are plump sheep with an excellent temperament.


A straggler born an hour ago needs some help to keep up with the flock on their way to feeding in the barn.

A straggler born an hour ago needs some help to keep up with the flock on their way to feeding in the barn.


A Pyrenees black face sheep and her one hour old lamb. The bloody cord is still hanging out of the mother.

A Pyrenees black face sheep and her one hour old lamb. The bloody cord is still hanging out of the mother.


David brings the sheep home. Getting them out of the barn in the morning is alot of work. But they are happy to go back into the warmth come evening, where fresh hay is waiting for them. The hay consists primarily of a local plant high in nutrients.

David brings the sheep home. Getting them out of the barn in the morning is alot of work. But they are happy to go back into the warmth come evening, where fresh hay is waiting for them. The hay consists primarily of a local plant high in nutrients.

Joanna Macy

What an inspiration. I was introduced to her work whilst at Occupy. Brought up a christian, now a practicing Buddhist and ecological activist, she is in her 80’s and still producing powerful works.

Thought I would drop her into this blog as she provides a certain poignancy to my exploring the beauty of the south of France.

The video below is part one of three… watch them all.

Chateaux Blanchfort

Upper most foundations of the castle. Square shaped. Possibly a tower, with its foundations cut into the bedrock of the crag.

Upper most foundations of the castle. Square shaped. Possibly a tower, with its foundations cut into the bedrock of the crag.


This is a fun castle for an excursion. After turning onto the Rennes-les-Bains road from Couiza we parked the car two bridges up the road in a tiny lay-by large enough for one car. An overgrown trail leads steeply up into the woods, a mixture of oak and Mediterranean strawberry (Arbutus). The walk to the castle takes about 20 minutes, mostof it going up hill. The path passes a small ruin. Then to the right the ‘Black Rock’ which may be reached by going off path. There are several spectacular viewing points along the way on smaller crags with vertigo inspiring drops.

The castle itself is on an enormous crag. But to avoid disappointment, I must say it is not a castle despite its name. Its foundations are far too small. At best it could have been a military outpost? Strategically it commands views of the valley from Serres to Couiza, the hills out across the Corbiere, it stares blank faced at Pech Cardou, it looks behind, up the valley at Rennes-les-Bains, Bugarach. It also looks out to Rennes-Les-Chateaux.

The crag is full of holes. Most of these grotto’s are blanked off only a few meters into the crag. One of the caves,the letterbox, goes much further back. It is calling out to be explored. Another cave looks to have been filled in. There is potential for more little secrets hidden in the bush around the crag.

Like a swiss cheese, the crag is peppered with holes. A short climb up reveals these two cavities with great views west to the mountains.

Like a swiss cheese, the crag is peppered with holes. A short climb up reveals these two cavities with great views west to the mountains.


The cave does not go very far back - but it is warm and dry

The cave does not go very far back – but it is warm and dry


The castle itself is on several levels of the crag. The levels look to have been flattened out by human hands. There are only two obvious foundations. One is a square set of stones that could have been a tower. It is at the highest point of the crag. The other is another square set of foundations a bit lower down. Both are built into the bedrock like so many Cathar castles in the area.

There is not much known about the castle. I read in one dubious book that it may have been constructed by the visigoths who’s kingdom, with a capital in present day Rennes-les-Chateaux, extended across Razes. Many theories tie in the fabulous treasure of Rennes-les-Chateaux allegedly discovered by the priest Sauniere with this castle. That is to say that the Blanchforts stashed their wealth in their crypt at Rennes for safe keeping only to be discovered by the priest a century later. But did such a family ever exist? If they did then I doubt this tower was their ancestral home. Other theories postulate that the fabulous wealth of the visigoth was buried under this fortification, the treasure that they plundered from Rome. Apparently there was a period in the twentieth century when this castle was picked through by treasure seekers. Then others suggest that the tower guarded a mine (the letterbox cave amongst other lost entrances). Or perhaps a distanced guard on Pech Cardou which was mined and where another treasure is said to be buried. The more adventurous have even suggested that the tower marks the burial place of Jesus, Mary Magdalen, or both of them. Or that the treasure of Pech Cardou is actually the bones of Jesus and Mary (possible with a chalice thrown in for good measure) and it is this that the tower guarded.

The entrance to the letterbox cave

The entrance to the letterbox cave


The letterbox cave goes back some way. Without a torch I was unable to explore. But from one blog I have read that it goes back 20 meters before a drop of five meters. Then it bottle-necks before opening out again. The blogger could not squeeze past the bottleneck.

The letterbox cave goes back some way. Without a torch I was unable to explore. But from one blog I have read that it goes back 20 meters before a drop of five meters. Then it bottle-necks before opening out again. The blogger could not squeeze past the bottleneck.


Discounting the fantastic, the ruins are certainly of military significance as a look out and signal tower. It could rapidly send messages up three valleys which otherwise would be blind to each other. Is there more to the story than this? I guess that is what is waiting to be discovered.
Another cave entrance. It does not go down very deep before filling up with rubble

Another cave entrance. It does not go down very deep before filling up with rubble


This is the set of lower foundations. Notice the pink plaster and bowl in the center floor. The stone to the right is part of the crag, carved flat to be part of the buildings square construction.

This is the set of lower foundations. Notice the pink plaster and bowl in the center floor. The stone to the right is part of the crag, carved flat to be part of the buildings square construction.


The pink plaster has survived all these centuries

The pink plaster has survived all these centuries


From the lower set of foundations, stone with a perfect bowl carved into the base, with a center impression. One blog suggested that this was a well covered up with concrete. But it is most definitely carved bedrock. What was its purpose?

From the lower set of foundations, stone with a perfect bowl carved into the base, with a center impression. One blog suggested that this was a well covered up with concrete. But it is most definitely carved bedrock. What was its purpose?


A recently etched cross of Isis

A recently etched cross of Isis