Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains

Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains

MEET - Mickael Montepin

Between Cucugnan and Queribus

You too can take a journey into the past!

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  Mickael and his family live in a "bergerie", that is, an old shepherd's house, and they have done through several generations, since 1681, as the stone shows.  It is the low building with the red rooftiles, the other beyond it is more modern.  In the distant days before the Revolution, one lived a natural and independent life, with your own vegetables and animals providing your needs. 

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  The country skills are so evident.  That the same family had lived here in this style for over three hundred years blew me away!

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  The house itself was like a museum, with many pre-war things still in use, but the reason that Mickael and myself had first got in touch was our interest in the history of the region.  He has a private museum of local items collected over many years, mainly from his passion as a caver.  You won't find him unless you know him, the Bergerie is about 2km down a dirt track between Cucugnan and the castle of Queribus - but that road was once the main road up to the castle in Medieval times.  The first people who lived in the bergerie were caretakers and giardians for the castle, who then started keeping sheep.

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  Mickael's museum is also his study, hideaway and workshop.  He has been fascinated by geology for many long years and with three friends explores the hidden depths of the Corbières and makes amazing finds.

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  These fossils are around 100,0000 years old, while you know, don't you, that stalacMITEs grow up while stalacTITES grow down?  It takes thousands of years as they are formed by water dripping from the roof of a cave.

  Many minerals - gemstones to you and me! - can also be found underground and our region is famous for jet and amber, among others.

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Amber on the left, stones from Bugarach on the right.

 Cucugnan village is situated on the old Roman mining route between the Mediterranean coast and Rennes-les-Bains.  Padern, a little to the east, still has remains of the mines alongside the river Verdouble.

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  Mickael's explorations are not limited to his home village of Cucugnan and its castle, on the contrary, the Two Rennes of the castle and the baths are among his favourite places.

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Roman remains and quartz, which catches the light.

  Mickael's finds are all recorded through his group of fellow cavers, called Groupe R.C.L and many historians and members from such associations as SESA, (Society for the Scientific Study of the Aude) call in to see his museum.  And for those among you who believe in these things his collection shrieks; earth energies!

  Mickael's finds are not limited to one particular period, so he has vast collections which also include coins and postage stamps!  For myself of course, it is Roman days that appeal, and Pre-Roman days.

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And of course, I love the everyday things that belonged to his family in the 19th century . . .

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  And lastly, among the thousands of things he has found, the following two, both found around Rennes-les-Bains, captured my heart.

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  Jesus was found in the River Sals, where the warm source joins the river just to the north of the village of Rennes-les-Bains.  The Elephant's head was found "between Bugarach and Rennes-les-Bains," Mickael says mysteriously.  It is very valuable, being dated as between 900BC and 500BC.  It looks as though it came from prehistoric India, possibly through Spain, with the peoples who influenced Occitan music, which has harmonies similar to those of India.  Breathtaking!

  Here is our view of Cucugnan as we left . . .

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 The village of Cucugan is in the Corbières mountains on the D14 from Bugarach to Tuchan.  For more about Cucugnan with its mysterious pregnant virgin, click here.



24/12/2015
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