Sunday, October 11, 2009

Troubadors, le Sidobre and the River of Rocks

Last Wednesday, M, D and I drove up to le Sidobre, an area east of Castres (22 miles/ 35 km from Soreze). On the way up, we stopped off in Burlats, the site of the court of the fair Adelaide of Béziers from ~1170-1199, a significant center for trobadors (troubadors) -- composers and performers of Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages (1100–1350).

In the area of le Sidobre 300 million years ago, molten magma was trapped several kilometers under the Hercynian Range of mountains. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, this range once "extended through western Europe for more than 1,860 miles (3,000 km), from Portugal, Ireland, and England in the west through Spain, France (Brittany, Massif Central, Vosges, and Corsica), and Germany (Black Forest, Harz) to the Czech Republic in the Bohemian Massif."

Over the intervening millennia, the mountains eroded to the point that, today, in this area of France, only the Massif Central, the Montagne Noire, and the Sidobre remain. During the period of the erosion, the magma was brought to the surface and cooled to form crystalline rock composed of mica, quartz, and feldspar -- granite.

Simply put, you could say that le Sidobre is a block of granite measuring 6.2 miles (10 km) in length, width and depth. The visible surface was cracked, while below the rock remains a solid mass. Runoff from rainfall, drainage and infiltration created a constant flow of water through the surface cracks and carved the boulders into remarkable shapes.

We walked up to Saut de la Truit (Trout's Leap), had lunch at Lac de Merle (Blackbird's Lake),

Lac de Merle

were dwarfed by the Peyro Clabado (Nailed Rock) and le Roc de l'Oi (Goose Rock)

and, my particular favorite, walked through le Chaos de la Roquette(the River of Rocks).

What a way to put things in perspective!

Thanks to Derek for sharing his camera when my battery died and for the use of some of his pictures in this post.

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