Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains

Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains

Rennes-le-Château, Les Labadous

Les Labadous 

Just south of the hilltop village of Rennes-le-Château, the domain of Les Labadous gives us a wonderful view of the famous "citadel."  It has played a major part in the "spiritual" life of the region but now, I understand, it will soon be in new hands.  Hence this article is in the Archives.

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  It is - or was - the home of Jaap Rameijer, a writer and tour-guide, who has a "house of friends" for those who want to come and explore our magic region.  As well as the main house there are small gîtes for those who prefer self-catering.  The main house has a restaurant offering, among others of course, vegetarian meals, and in the season, parties with local musicians are often held outdoors, under the stars of the Milky Way.

  The domain is frankly quite beautiful, with the brook of Colours running through it to join the River Aude at Esperaza.  Parts of it are deep enough to swim in.  Jaap was baptised in this stream.

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  Jaap and his family first came here to explore the mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and felt immediately it was their destiny to leave their native Holland and live here.  So they bought Les Labadous, several hectares of sheltered valley land where, thousands of years ago, the Celts had lived on their nearby oppidum of Casteillas and farmed this ancient land, also called the Plâteau de Lauzet.  Jaap is a leading personality on the Rennes-le-Château "scene" and seems to be thriving on it - here's my picture taken one spring day when he invited me to lunch.

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  He had worked hard to achieve this, fixing roofs and plumbing for example, as well as guiding groups, some spiritual, day after day in the summer heat of the season.  When they first came to Les Labadous the house, that once belonged to Elizabeth van Buren, had been rather neglected, but two small statues still remain - no-one knows who made them of were they came from.

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The domain and the house are now decorated in a way you could call magical - or spiritual?

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It takes about an hour just to make a tour of the grounds and to admire all the features.
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One can sense "the eternal feminine" and Mary Magdalene herself is associated with Les Labadous, as Jaap himself will tell you.  There is no doubt here in Languedoc, among the local French people as well as we northern Europeans who have adopted the region, that Mary Magdalene and Jesus came here.  The legends are so numerous one cannot ignore them.

Jaap is also known as an expert on Orbs, those roundels of light we see sometimes on our photos, and has written a beautifully illustrated book about them, in English as well as his native Dutch.
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  The house at Les Labadous, beautiful still in winter.  Find the heart!

Here's an article I wrote towards the tail end of 2012
The Poet and the Tree
My friend Roibeard, author of Prism of Rennes, came to Languedoc for a nostalgic visit, and so we went to see Jaap at Les Labadous on a rather dull day, though by a miracle it did not actually rain.  For photography, the light was dreadful.
    Jaap is a great host and showed us a film he had taken of Orbs.  He had merely switched on his camera and pointed it out of his door during a heavy rainstorm.  The Orbs were dancing and performing for us, an incredible dance!
 
The nearest still picture I can find to capture the spirit of the film
  Meanwhile, I wanted to make a film of Roibeard reciting one of his poems, and from Les Labadous is a lovely view of Rennes-le-Chateau perched up on its rock.  Rob's poem, "Hilltop Hamlet of Rennes-le-Château" seemed particularly suitable.  The light was poor, but he gave a magnificent rendering.  The poem (after a 3 second lead-in) is much more meaningful when passionately recited - click here.
    Then I showed Roibeard the well-known tree of Mary Magdalene at Les Labadous; it has an image of Mary Magdalene in the bark.  The tree is one of the magnificent poplars that grow alongside the little river.  The trees are a feature of the whole place.  
       
  This land is very special to the owner, Jaap, who was baptised in the old Jesus Christian way, in the river.  And he believes that Mary Magdalene once lived there at Les Labadous.  
    So the tree with the image in the bark is of special significance, naturally.  I first saw it and said;  "It's just a pattern in the bark!"
    "Well maybe," said Jaap, "But people love that tree just the same, and hold ceremonies, and often hug and talk to it."  The image had first appeared about 4 years previously. 
     Then Roibeard became enraptured by the Mary Magdalene Tree.  He said it reminded him of the Apprentice's Pillar in Rosslyn chapel, for the bark spirals around the tree in a similar pattern.
  

   He talked to the tree for a while; he told me he was listening to the tree's secret voice, full of wordless wisdom.  When we had to leave it, he said he felt he was being painfully separated from a friend, the tree itself; "perhaps" Mary Magdalene.
    Jaap tells me many of his visitors talk to the tree.
    Well, as Robbie Burns might have said, "A tree's a tree for all that."  Trees grow and Nature moves on.  It seemed to me the image in the bark was fading a little, no longer so distinct.  By the time you read this it will have faded right away.



16/03/2015
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