falaiseWhen my kid was little, I would always accompany class field trips. It was such a great way to learn about the region, often in ways I never would have sought out myself (spelunking). One such trip was with a bunch of second- and third-graders to go rock climbing, which led to my discovery of a hidden haven, Notre Dame du Cros (literally, Our Lady of the Hole, or, more poetically, Valley).

06.MARCH 12 - 61
Gulp.

falaise 3I have mentioned that the French have other ideas about safety, as in, if you get hurt, it’s your own fault. So somehow rock climbing is a good idea for kids whose permanent front teeth have only just grown in. falaise 2Even crazier, to me, was the fact that one of the guides had been our guide exploring caves. A man of many outdoor sports. How does one get a job leading children through caves and up cliffs? And how does he not go crazy? He had unlimited patience. I knew and loved these kids but any time I spent an entire day with all of them I had to take a nap as soon as I got home. Their overflowing energy sapped mine.

climbing lines
Do you see the climbing lines?

Despite the buzzing swarm of children, the area of Notre Dame du Cros is utterly peaceful. It’s over the hill from the village of Caunes-Minervois, and so tucked into the hills that you don’t hear anything but birds and the rustle of leaves. And occasionally an explosion from the marble quarry–maybe once in a day.

marble
Marble just lying around.
fountain
A spring.

Legend has it that, around the 6th century, a shepherdess gave water from the spring there to her sick child (although another says it was the shepherdess herself who was ill), who was immediately cured. It became a pilgrimage destination. That led to chapels being built, with the current one dating to the 12th century, and renovated in the 15th and 16th centuries. Mass is said every morning–the chapel is considered part of the Caunes abbey. Stations of the cross are spread around the hillside.

06.MARCH 12 - 06
The old entrance; now the entrance is on the side to the right.
06.MARCH 12 - 01
Do you see three little chapels for the stations of the cross?
06.MARCH 12 - 03
Le Souc

There’s a flat plain next to a stream, named Le Souc, with picnic tables shaded by century-old platane trees. It’s a very popular spot on summer weekends, but manages to stay calm and peaceful–it’s what people come for.

up to churchinscription

06.MARCH 12 - 07
The former rectory.

06.MARCH 12 - 02

 

14 thoughts on “Under Marble Cliffs

  1. How nice that you are able to accompany your son on the school trips. I am too much of a wuss to do any of that stuff (especially the spelunking – gah!) but my son, now almost 30, is seriously into rock climbing and is training to be able to ‘encadrer’ others. Takes tons of technique, fearlessness and patience. I admire you both!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is a beautiful tranquil place. I have been on a couple of walks that go through or start from there. One from Caunes that goes past those little chapels in your photo. Another, much longer walk, starts to the right of the chapel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s truly lovely. There are hidden gems like this all over France, aren’t there. Once, during the Ferme en Ferme, we found a picnic spot with amazing views of the Pyrénées, so quiet and beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “If you get hurt it’s your own fault.” Sensible thinking… the way we used to be… but that would never make it here with our current helicopter parenting and lawsuit happy American culture.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.