I’ve just been to Bugarach, a village hidden away on the edge of the Corbières. My main reason for going there was to climb the nearby Pech but I also wanted to see if the village had been changed by its newly acquired celebrity. After all, it is the only place which will survive the end of the world on 21 December 2012 (or perhaps the 22nd, or even the 12th…). The date comes from the Mayan calendar: we are coming to the end of a 5126-year cycle. This means that the world as we know it will come to an end.
Bugarach is a mere 30km as the spaceship flies from where I live and, along with nearby Rennes-le-Chateau (think Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code), has long been a local byword for eccentricity. But since 2009 and the release of the disaster movie “2012” the fame of Bugarach has spread. It wasn’t mentioned in the film but somehow hopes of surviving the end of the world have focussed on the community and its 189 inhabitants. It regularly features on TV and in the press. House prices have tripled, we are told, and even at that price they are being snapped up. The mayor, Jean-Pierre Delord, is at his wit’s end according to the Courrier International: “There’s nothing funny about it… I want the army to be here if necessary” What will he do when the apocalyptic sects invade in the days before this winter’s solstice? Will there be mass suicides when it doesn’t happen? How many people hoping to hitch a lift on a passing flying saucer will fall off the cliffs of the Pech? Will it be – for Bugarach – a scaled-down version of the end of the world?
Already the villagers are complaining at the increasingly frequent ambulance sirens. The publicity has attracted more walkers – including me – and inevitably some fall on the steep slopes leading to the top of the mountain (1230m).
There is one other indication that something odd is going on. At the very summit of the Pech is a fired-clay statuette: a Chinese warrior modelled, I think, on those dug up in Xi’an.
Even so, for the moment, Bugarach is pretty much like it always has been. A little bit eccentric in both senses of the word. What I would like to know is who spread the rumour that Bugarach would survive, and why?Le Pech de Bugarach via the fenêtre
940m of climbing, 13,6km: GPS file ...