I can now confirm that [*******] is abandoned. It is very rare to find an entire hamlet abandoned in Aude. Everything has been snapped up. So what a find!
Last autumn some shepherds came through Les T. with their ox cart and donkeys in tow. They mentioned that they had spent two nights grazing in what appeared to them to be an abandoned farm. So finally I got round to checking it out.
Access is down a long slippery road. The condition is not great. The dirt has been washed away by repeated rain storms. Certainly one would get cut off every time it snows. The electric wire is down. Pulled to the ground by an enormous branch.
There are several houses (kind of more like hovels) in a row. All falling down. In true old fashioned style the toilet is outside (and has been fitted with double glazing – the only upgrade noticeable on site). Opposite is a row of out-houses. There are a further several stone barns. There are also gardens (long since overgrown) at various levels on the steep sloping hill. A spring still has running water filling a stone trough.
The grounds have an overgrown orchard and there are several pasture fields. Further down there are fir and pine, planted for timber. The farm itself is blessed with several gigantic old oaks – a rarity as most have been cut for fire wood in the early part of the twentieth century.
What I know about the original inhabitants is that they were old, salt of the earth types. Near true peasants. As they owned their own land they are not strictly peasants but close enough. What happened to them? Where did they go? Tractors, farm equipment, tools, all lie idly in the fields, gradually disappearing under the encroaching bramble.
One story I heard regarding the ancient matriarch, is that several years ago she came trudging over the hill to Les Tougnets to visit friends. She kept to the forest path (the old pilgrims foot path that starts in Amsterdam and ends in Santiago de Compostela). It was a snowy evening when she set off back to the farm. She never made it. Search parties were dispatched but no one could find a trace of her until Spring when the snow began to melt. She had fallen down a deep, snow filled gully where she perished, perfectly preserved in the ice.
So, if anyone is interested – I think this site would make a fantastic community project. It has everything ready to move forwards.
And splendid views of the Pyrenees…