Randonee Cabanes de Mataporc

March 24, 2020

The Cabanes de Mataporc are in the Alberes mountains above Laroque des Alberes. These are ancient dry stone huts that sheltered shepherds while their animals grazed up on the mountain. There are expansive views to the Roussillon plain and Mediterranean from the site. About 4 miles, 1000 ft elevation gain, 3 hours round trip. The trail is well marked.

The trail starts at the end of the street opposite the church in Laroque, starting point of all trails in the village. Climb till you reach an intersection with a small reservoir. Consult the big trail map, then turn left. The trail follows a dirt road and climbs up through cork forest with evidence of recent harvesting. A cork tree can be harvested about every 9 years. You can see the year number painted on the tree.

This area is criss crossed by springs bursting out of the Alberes: a basin full of water under a tree with a stone opening, big dirt basins framed with stone are dry now, and a “point d’eau” with large water tank probably for fires that is continuously fed from a little waterfall.

Where the trail leaves the road it climbs steeply up the mountain. More cork trees and evidence of sanglier (boar) rooting around near the trail and perhaps bedding down. No wonder, there are lot of acorns on the ground for them to eat.

The trail to the first cabanes is marked to right and is higher up the mountain. There are two stone huts built on a steep site. They are low to the ground, not high enough to stand inside, with evidence of an open hearth.

The other cabanes are just a few minutes further along the main trail marked to the left on a trail down the mountain. This site is more developed with one enclosed shelter and another with two rooms that lack a roof. There is a corral of sorts with stone walls for animals. This site is not entirely out of service, as I saw evidence of cows with their ubiquitous pies. A beautiful spot for a picnic perched on the rock shelf with open vistas.

An interesting piece of Catalan history.

Winter in Laroque

February 9, 2010

January was ushered in by record freezing temperatures and snow that spread across Europe. We watched the meteo daily as the temperatures in the north hovered near 0, Fahrenheit that is!  The Chunnel closed, London’s airports closed, the snow was getting deep.  Over the next few days, the cold moved south until it reached the Mediterranean.  It was windy and the rain was cold.  But, how bad could this be in the sunny Languedoc? 

 In the US, we have our after-Christmas sales, which are nothing compared to the French January soldes, the twice yearly phenomena that excites French shoppers.  By French law, advertised sales are limited to twice yearly events in January and June.  Not that French stores haven’t found ways to nip away at the rules with in store promotions, special offers, or a clearance section.  The media hyped the event too, building anticipation for the January 6th commencement in Paris.  Not wanting to miss out, I bundled up, and headed into Perpignan to check it out.  I was in the midst of a spending frenzy, 50 % off!! when my portable rang.  “Vite, vite, l’orage arrive,” hurry home before the weather gets bad … it might even snow.  The shopkeeper quickly rang up my purchases, and cautioned me to take care with the approaching storm.

 Snow at the Mediterranean?  It started snowing about half-way back to Laroque.  Slushy stuff, but it was piling up along the sides of the road.  I slowed a bit, unsure how much traction I would have with the skinny wheels on my Renault.  As the road climbed toward Laroque, it got more snowy.  Luckily, there weren’t many cars on the road, it seemed everyone had heeded the warning.  When I got to Laroque it was snowing in earnest.  I decided it best to park down in the village.  The snow was deep!

It continued to snow.  As I looked up my street, the street light cast a beautiful golden glow on the fresh snow as it clung to the overhanging trees.  What a magical sight!