…and the Mediterranean …

In Rouffiac-des-Corbières, you will enter the immense playground of the wild boar. The relief here is varied and extremely chaotic. This is a country of Pechs (hills) and gorges, of hillocks and slopes, of garrigues, maquis and pine woods, swept by the Cers and Marin winds. The mountainous massifs are covered in thick forests and undergrowth: box tree/bois, kermes oak/garrolha, mastic/lentiscle, lavender/aspic, Montpellier cistus/moja blanca, juniper/cade, heather/bruga, etc.
The Mediterranean climate is predominant everywhere, except in Rouffiac-des-Corbières, where the olive tree/l’oliu does not grow.

Let us continue on the GR36 , more to the south, it tries to escape towards Fenouillèdes but before that, it meets up with the Sentier Cathare (‘Cathar Trail’) in Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse. If you want to take in the immensity of this Mediterranean landscape, we suggest you climb the slopes towards the Peyrepertuse castle where you will be invited on a voyage in an extravagant mineral liner. To the southeast, you will discover another mineral lighthouse, the Quéribus castle, a patient look-out (728 m) from which you will at last spot the Mediterranean.

After Cucugnan, the Gorges du Verdouble display a sharp relief from Padern onward. These gorges lead to the vineyard plain of Tuchan (lien fiche commune site PTCM). This area is characterized by a severe altitude difference of 136 m at Paziols up to 917 m for the Pech de Fraysse on the Mont Tauch, which overlooks the entire plain. On the hillsides of the Mont Tauch, the hike De Notre Dame de Faste à Ségure (‘From Notre-Dame-de-Faste to Ségure’), will guide you on the slopes of this giant of the Corbières, in search of the Notre-Dame chapel, a unique edifice built at the behest of sailors.

In this Mediterranean area, the vineyard/la vinha and the olive tree/l’oliu rule. All around, islets covered with vegetation stand out amidst the rocks and stones and the pine trees. In the garrigue, we find the euphorbia (also called witches herb)/lachuscla-èrba de las bruèissas, the Aphyllanthes monspeliensis/bragalon, the coronilla/coronilha, the cade juniper/cade, the kermes oak/garrolha, the cistuses/mojas, etc.
As for the maquis (scrub) which grows mainly on schistose and acid soil, this is ideal for the growth of the cork oak/siure, cistus/moja, heather/bruga, strawberry tree/arboç and lavender/aspic.
Here’s a bit of advice for the migraine sufferers among you: before going to bed, put a satchel filled with lavender under your pillow. This will ease your pain, give you a good night’s sleep and make you dream wonderful and happy dreams.
The holm oaks/ausina copses are the icing on the landscape cake, a landscape we suggest you visit in springtime to enjoy the abundance of colours and fragrances it has to offer to the fullest: white, pink, mauve, blue,... and that electric shade of green that will soon take its leave after the first droughts, at the time of year when the cicadae/cigalas and crickets/grelhs start waking up:

que cantaràn sens pausa : Sega, sega, sega !
- who will sing relentlessly Sega, sega, sega : start harvesting !

Let us continue for a while yet in the footsteps of the Cathars from the Aguilar castle (lien page Aguilar site PTCM) onward, heading towards Durban-Corbières. Slowly but surely, you’ll enter the national forest of the eastern part of the Corbières. After a short detour to Embres-et-Castelmaure, the impressive remains of the castle of Durban stand out in the distance. You will leave the Cathar Trail which continues towards the sea and start heading north. This part of the Corbières is not quite as elevated but it does have a savage streak to it. And the vineyard/la vinha is present everywhere on the slopes and in the plains. It is often accompanied by almond trees/los ametlièrs which you’ll discover in bloom from the month of January onward: those downy white petals, harbingers of the upcoming promises of springtime … and you will join in the chorus of the locals when they start singing the Cançon de l’ametlièr

Dejós ma fenèstra
i a un ametlièr :
filha despulhada,
l’amètla trencada,
s’esmòu la flor blanca
al vent de febrièr,
la fuèlha afinada,
de cocut al pè.
Per dire polida
dirai d’avelana,
d’amors capitadas
dirai d’ametlons,
la man jos la fauda
lo jaç dins la bauca
es l’amètla tendra
coma los potons ;
l’amètla qu’espèra
dins son clòt de brèça
per d’autras sasons.
Se morís la vièlha
siás tu l’eiretièr
del flòc de ferratja
d’un sol ametlièr
que son ombra tèunha
cobrís son reiaume
e farà flors blancas
un autre febrièr.
Per dire caucanha
dirai d’avelana,
per dire ma lenha
d’un vièlh ametlièr.
- Leon Còrdas

Song of the almond tree : Underneath my window stands an almond tree: a girl undressed, the cracked almond is moved, the white flower in the February wind, the tree with its slender leaves, gum on its trunk. To speak in gentle terms, I’ll speak of hazels, of shared passions, the green almonds, a hand underneath a skirt, a bed of wild herbs, this is the almond, soft as a kiss. The almond that waits in the hollow of its cradle till other seasons are upon us. When the old woman dies, you’ll inherit the plot of land that has a single almond tree, whose shade covers this kingdom, and white flowers will be here come February. To foretell the future, I’ll speak of hazels, I’ll speak of my branch on an old almond tree.