If you are thinking of heading out to Bugarach to witness the end of the world on 21st December, don’t expect to climb the mountain. French police have banned access to the Pic and will control access to the village for the expected thousands hoping to survive the  Apocalypse, or shake hands with an alien! Of course, there is nothing to stop you popping along earlier to purchase  “Cuvée Bugarach” wine, labelled  ‘S‘il n’en reste qu’un, je serai celui-là’ (If there’s only one left, I shall be that one.” and described on their website as a wine which should ‘resister à la fin du monde et vous aider à mieux communiquer avec les extra-terrestres’.

According to an ancient Mayan calendar, the world will come to an end towards the end of 2012. Unless you live in Bugarach!

The village in the Aude lies at the foot of Pic de Bugarach, a 1,230 metres mountain peak and the highest summit in the Corbières mountains. The Pic, also known as the “upside down mountain” has  top layers which are millions of years older than the lower strata,  is as if someone tossed the mountain in the air, flipped it around, and dropped in back.

On 21st December 2012 the date predicted for the Apocalyse, there is already no room at the inn. Gîtes,  chambres d’hôtes, and campsites, have been swamped with advance bookings, and the  mayor is turning down  applications from hot dog and pizza vans hoping to make a few last quid out of the gullible.

Known by locals as ‘les zozotériques’ , many of these people believe that the village will be a refuge from the End of the World, or a stage for some earth shattering event programmed to take place on that date.

House prices  shot up of course. A house estimated at 260 000 € went on for sale at 474 000 €. Whether they got their price is another matter!

One hopeful  applied to the mayor to set up a therapy centre for ‘lavement intérieur’ a chance to cleanse the soul before departing this mortal coil, very similar to a colonoscopy, but much more expensive!

This limestone region has many caves and underground caverns, an underground network largely unexplored, an underground river flowing as far west as Salses. Some believe that within these ‘grottes’ aliens are awaiting the 21 December 2012, to destroy the earth and whisk away a select few humans, the chosen few, who will be spared the Apocalypse.

Of course, myth and magic is a bit of a speciality in this Aude valley, linked as it is with Rennes-le-Château and  Rennes-les-Bains, mystically renowned and rife with legend of  the knights Templar, Cathars, Jerusalem, the tomb of Jesus and Marie-Madeleine, the Holy Grail…. What better region for a miracle?

In 2011, there were over 20,000 visitors to this tiny village of 200 inhabitants. With France’s sad past of cults committing mass suicide, French sect watchdog, Miviludes, is keeping an eye on the area.

But don’t despair! In December 2011, Leonzo Barreno, trained by Mayan elders to read their ancient calendars, explained that the doom and gloom predictions and misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar are wrong. According to Leonzo, December 21st, 2012 simply marks the end of the 5,125-year-long Mayan Long Count calendar, at which point a new calendar cycle will begin.

He adds,  “The beginning of the cycle is something to celebrate, not fear.”

Phew. What a relief. See you in 2013!

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