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Occitanie. What a sweet name sounding like south and summer sun for us living in Normandy… We have a few friends living there with whom we’ll discover the area from Albi and Cordes-sur-Ciel to Lourdes, passing by the famous Cirque de Gavarnie that we dream of since a few years…

Albi and Cordes-sur-ciel

Our base will be in Toulouse for a few days, unfortunately rainy. We installed our camp in the flat of our friends who travelled with us in Vietnam a the end of our walking trip along the Mekong river, and later in Iran. But we won’t visit Toulouse that time. We already visited it last time we came to spend a weekend with our friends. Instead they will take us to their favorite places around the region :

– « We’ll start by Albi! You’ll see it’s a wonderful city. »
– « What ? Where ? What’s Albi ? »

Yeah… Normandy is far away 🙂

How is it possible that we never heard of Albi before ? This is exactly what we thought when we first walked in its pretty middle-age little streets. Made of pink stones, the episcopal city of Albi, loaded with History, with its palace and its fortified cathedral of Saint-Cecile, charmed us in less time needed to say « Wow ! Cool place ! ». No wonder it’s listed at the UNESCO !
But we must beleive that Zeus has decided to play with the sky of the Occitanie these days. The gloomy weather made an end to our wanderings, but we promised ourselves to come back one day to see more about that city.

The wonderful Cathedral of Sainte-Cécile d'Albi
The wonderful Cathedral of Sainte-Cécile d’Albi

A few kilometers away sits a marvels of the Occitanie region, and one of the french’s favorite village : Cordes-surs-Ciel. On top of a hill, this medieval city built in 1222 stand proudly over the Cérou valley. Its red roofs denote in the landscapes like hundreds of dominoes arranged in a green setting. We first make a stop outside to admire from far away (thanks to our friends for the lookout spot !), before entering inside and walk around the old streets and walls of its heart, all made of centuries old stones.


In Lourdres we’re hosted by another friend. It’s been a long time we haven’t seen each other, but we immediately laughs and joke like if our last meeting was yesterday. Friendship is a precious thing ! We are welcomed here like every other friends has done it in the Pyrénées so far : with a table full of delicious food. Charcuterie, local cheese and other specialities as light and dietetic as a nice cassoulet.

Quentin wanted to visit the holy site of Lourdes, by curiosity for that strange place, but also to take pictures of the incredible underground basilica of Pie-X. What a strange feeling, walking in these streets full of pilgrims, but also full of shops selling all sorts of made in china things with the image of the Virgin or Jesus. All in plastic, holy bling-bling, Virgin statues flashing lights, and even some plates with your photo printed side by side with Bernadette who saw the imaculate conception here a long time ago. It looks a little bit like Disneyland Village… And during the evening, everybody walks by with a candle non chalanty, ignoring the sick and strange downside of these crazy business. Oh, Money, it seems that your are the real god all around this world…

The underground basilica Pie-X of Lourdes, with a hosting capacity of 6500 persons. Don't you think it looks a little bit like a spaceship ?
The underground basilica Pie-X of Lourdes, with a hosting capacity of 6500 persons. Don’t you think it looks a little bit like a spaceship ?

The cirque de Gavarnie

Finally after a few days in the crazyness of Lourdes, waiting for a better weather we decided to head to the famous cirque de Gavarnie ! Tomorrow a nice forecast window is suppose to happen. It’s been two years that our friends tease us, by sending us amazing pictures of that place. It is time we see it with our own eyes !
We had a couple of sunny hours during the evening, and we felt sure about our plans, but… Yes, there’s always a « but » when it shouldn’t ! So, but, in the morning we realised that the world has been paint it white ! Temperatures drastically dropped during the night and a thick layer of fresh snow covered the entire region. Another trick from that good old jocker of Zeus. Who cares !? Stuffed with ski equipement, we set course to the cirque de Gavarnie !

Two hours walking in the snow is not what we had imagined this hike to Gavarnie, but finally it’s pretty cool that way, don’t you think ? It’s a different point of view on that famous place, we like it ! And finally it will give us one more reason to come back to the Occitanie area in summer mode ! 😉

M. & Mme Shoes

The Cirque de Gavarnie under snow. Occitanie, France.
The Cirque de Gavarnie under snow. Occitanie, France.

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