Where Two Worlds Meet
A visit to Le Caylar
BUILDINGS AND ARCHITECTURE TRAVEL THROUGH FRANCE
Yesterday we took a short drive to the historic village of Le Caylar which lies to the north of us on the Causses du Larzac . We took the route that winds up to the head of our valley, then traverses the plateau, with its low rocks and stunted trees. After the long dry summer the land was dry and brown and it felt just like crossing the vast empty landscape of The Karoo in South Africa. At Le Caylar we planned to see a different kind of bande dessinée(see my earlier blog.) Sadly our mission was thwarted , for reasons that will become clear. But nonetheless, Le Caylar proved to be a fascinating place that straddles the old and the new.
Whenever we visit Le Caylar we are usually passing straight through on a journey north. Today, we parked our car in the central 'place,' and set off to explore the village, which originated in neolithic times . A sign informed us that we were passing through the Porte Horloge, the only remaining tower of three in this once fortified village, with its commanding position over the Mediterranean plains. We followed the Rue de la Ville, a narrow street that ran past the X1V century Maison de Ville. The houses were built in a traditional style, and were largely unmodernised. Many were rundown or even abandoned. This village was clearly rich in heritage, but its inhabitants are now of fairly modest means. To our left we could see the ruins of the old fortified walls rising up to the cliffs that dominate the village. Whilst one or two houses appear to be undergoing modernisation, it seems a far cry from the heavily restored tourist meccas of Provence and the Cote d'Azur. Perhaps that is what lends Le Caylar so much charm.
But I am puzzled. Despite its rundown air, a lot of money has clearly been spent in developing the tourist infrastructure of the village . A series of carefully built , paved staircases lead visitors towards RocCastel , high above the village, while carefully designed notices have been created to illustrate the various features along the way.
But where are the tourists? The streets seem empty , and yet a large warning sign ahead of us would indicate that that is not always the case. Do we really need to be warned to respect the site? Could it be that the cliffs above us are potentially dangerous, or is there something else afoot.
I ask myself what might have happened in the past.