Bugarach mayor Jean-Pierre Delord with a UFO postcard
THE Lonely Planet guide to the Languedoc-Roussillon region of the south of France makes no mention of Bugarach.
It suggests a driving route from Carcassonne to Perpignan that passes through some spectacular gorge scenery and takes you within a few miles of the place. But neither the village itself nor the striking mountain above it rate a name-check.
Some of the village’s 176 inhabitants would rather things had stayed that way but whether they like it or not, Bugarach has well and truly lost its obscurity. It has recently been described as the most famous village in France and in Paris a book has just been published about it entitled The Village Of The End Of The World.
If you believe some of the wilder accounts planeloads of Americans are heading there with one-way tickets while more reliable reports say locals are offering their properties for rent at £1,200 per night or spots to pitch a tent for £400.
The authorities admit they are on red alert – or what passes for it in the sleepy Corbières mountains, amid rumours that crazed cultists might try to organise a mass suicide ritual.
Fifty military police will be deployed in the village itself and another 50 will be standing by – even though it’s not obvious why anyone would travel to the only place on the planet where they’re not going to die simply to do away with themselves.
You may or may not have heard that the world is meant to be coming to an end in less than three weeks’ time. According to those who believe in this kind of stuff this is because the Mayan civilisation of Central America, which was at its height around 1,400 years ago, predicted an apocalypse on December 21, 2012. Apparently some people now think the only place anyone can survive the catastrophe will be Bugarach.