Out for the day: A Canigou for all seasons

vines and canigou

Classed as one of the ‘Grands Sites de France‘ any visit  to the Pyrénees-Orientales is dominated by the mystic and sacred Catalan Canigou.

Walk it, climb it run it, paint it,  stroll up it with a donkey friend… or just sit down here on the plain on a sunny day and worship it from afar!

A Magician Among Mountains

Rudyard Kipling

I came here in search of nothing more than a little sunshine.

But I found Canigou, whom I discovered to be a magician among mountains, and I submitted myself to his power…

I watch him with wonder and delight.

Nothing that he could do or give birth to would now surprise me, whether I met Don Quixote himself riding in from the Spanish side, or all the chivalry of ancient France watering their horses at his streams, or saw (which each twilight seems quite possible) gnomes and kobbolds swarming out of the mines and tunnels of his flanks.

As the crow flies, Marseille to Canigou

In early February and towards the end of October, on a clear evening, you may be able see the peak of Canigou, standing at 9,137 feet above sea level – from Marseilles! Yes, really!

Although approximately 165 miles (253 km) away from the French port town, certain atmospheric conditions allow far away objects that normally can’t be seen because of distance, to come into clear view for a short time.

This is not to say that you should go rushing over to Marseilles with a pair of binoculars  because the viewing is very weather dependant, working by refraction of light. Much of the distance between Marseille and the P-O is over the Mediterranean Sea which probably helps too.

Canigou from Marseille

A Canigou Walk

Norman Longworth

I walked up the Canigou last Saturday
Not for the first time I venture to say
Each time it gets harder to complete the way
Up to the top

I walked up the Canigou last Saturday
I drive to the refuge in a rusty old jeep
It means I can get just a little more sleep
It’s enough to make a true mountaineer weep
To get to the top

I have to confess it’s a bit of a slog
And sometimes I think I need a guide dog
Fit folk would run at a moderate jog
Up to the top

I walked up the Canigou last Saturday
My grandson, aged six, soon set to the chase
My son in his forties walked at fast pace
I crawled like a snail halfway from first base
Up to the top

I walked up the Canigou last Saturday
But when I get there the rewards are intense
Time to let self-adulation commence
The views from the summit are truly immense
Up at the top

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