Jardin Exraordinaire

Jardin Extraordinaire - Pumpkin Field
We were tipped off about this show from some friends that live under Montsegur. They described it as a village fete centered around gardens.

When we arrived at the tiny village of Lieurac (west of Lac Montbel) we knew something big was up. The amount of cars and people was more akin to a large festival.
Jardin Extraordinaire - Faces in the Clay
The Fete is just outside the village along a river, in a few fields and gentle wooded slope. It is put on by a collaboration of artists. The River has a walk that runs on an artificial shingle bank weaving past unexpected sculptures and rock art. The Woods are the same but without the river. Lots of ingenious calabash pots with flowers, mosses and woven natural fibers. Sticks are arranged in patterns. Details are everywhere. Hanging from trees, hollows in the earth. The field is dominated by a series of large bamboo structures that support a dense canopy of squash. Some are edible pumpkin, others are calabash. A few structures are built in the form of tepees. One large geodesic dome was home to a kora harp player. Another field was a labyrinth of head high wild flower, whilst another field had kids games.
Jardin Extraordinaire - Padame hold up a squash
Jardin Extraordinaire - Kora Harpist
Jardin Extraordinaire - dreamcatcher
There was also entertainment, theater, comedians, a live band in the evening, a bar serving ice cold craft beer, a candle lit walk at night, lots of stuff.

From Thursday to Sunday – every year in the last week of August.
Jardin Extraordinaire - River Walk 1
Jardin Extraordinaire - Moss Balls

Gascous Woods

Exploring the area around Saint Louis et Parahou I found this small forest with ruins called Gascous. It has all the qualities for a great community. There is plenty of wood for building. It is isolated without views onto other houses. It has no electricity, water or phone signal. That could be a big plus for some. Certainly being off-grid has its advantages. Lack of water is a big problem. The river is too far into the valley to be a realistic source. So perhaps the ruined farm had a well? Alot of the land is very steep, unsuitable to building. However, in 107 hectares there is plenty of level ground. It just means that cabins would be far from each other and from the car parking area. I would not fancy carrying my shopping 10 minutes along a muddy path in the rain! Electric Quad bikes to get around? Or donkeys? Another concern is the lack of open ground. With all that forest there are no glades large enough to have a vegetable garden without having to cut down more trees. The point of these forests is to learn to live in them and with them, not cut them down.

Would the mairie give permission to erect a wooden house? Who knows…
The coniferous woods are very young still. But there are some old oak and beech.

Saint Julia’s little secret

Saint Bertrand casscade
We have been let in on the village secret. A six meter casscade that falls into a deep pool wide enough to swim in. There is a local legend that some church bells were thrown into the pool. I have also heard that this is the spot where the tale of Awena first entered our world.

There is no easy way of reaching the falls. Once there was a trail up the river but through abandonment it is only now kept serviceable by the wild boar. The trail ends abruptly at the mouth of a modest gorge. To reach the casscade one must then enter the river to carry on upstream. The vegetation is thick with oak and popular so that the sun only penetrates the pool in the early afternoon. The water is ice cold!

I would like to take a plastic inflatable for Anika one time!

One of several deep pools below the waterfall

One of several deep pools below the waterfall

The same deep pool viewed from ontop a boulder

The same deep pool viewed from ontop a boulder

The explorers!

The ragged explorers!