Today I’m featuring a picture of Orgues d’Ille-sur-Tet from my beloved Normandy, taken by Tamason and Paul Gamble from Travelling Book Junkie Blog. They are a blogging duo originally from the UK but about to embark on a new adventure living in the South West of France. Aren’t you jealous? I am! :) Do follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Picture Story: Orgues d’Ille-sur-Tet
‘You could always go and visit the Fairy Chimneys’ says the woman sitting behind her computer in the tourist office in Argeles sur Mer, a beach resort in the south-west of France.
That caused me to pay attention. Normally we do our own research before heading out to any location we visit, but not this time. Having booked a quick break away only hours beforehand we had no idea what we would find when we got there, however, I liked the idea, perhaps it would be an area set aside to fairy folklore.
For those expecting to see tiny little figurines replicating fairy ideals that we have grown up with you might be slightly disappointed. This was not, as I had been hoping, a trip back to mystical childhood dreams. It was, however, a site of beautiful landscapes.
Whilst Orgues d’Ille-sur-Tet had no trace of tiny wings in flight I did begin to feel like we had wandered into an alternative world. To reach the towering fairies you firstly need wander through a pathway marked out in the forest.
To entertain those that perhaps don’t enjoy an occasion jaunt through the woods, there have sporadically placed creatures along the route for you to stare at.
Not however of the living kind, these creatures were intriguing pieces of artwork created solely from metal by incredibly talented individuals and whilst the oversized spiders were not really to my liking, even replicas make my skin crawl, the birds of prey were particularly eye-catching.
In no time at all, space opened up and, looking past the meadow of wild flowers, the tall pillars began to peek out over the craggy rock formations. With high hopes for these spectacular, natural creations we wander through the gates and into a large open expanse.
From here, you could begin to enjoy the beautiful vistas of the surrounding hillsides. If only we had known about the lawned suntrap with the views; this would have been an ideal spot to have a picnic.
It would, no doubt, have been slightly more enjoyable than sitting on a park bench with views over a lovely gravelled area where we had, only half an hour early, parked our car.
That aside, it didn’t take long for us to start exploring the weathered rock formations. In many areas around the world, these would now be cordoned off, frustrating visitors with the restrictions enforced.
Not so here, if a structure was safe you were able to clamber and climb until your heart was content. Perhaps making in more frustrating for the photographer hoping to gain that perfect picture.
Each hoodoo, or fairy chimney, is a mixture of white and yellow sandy rock, making it prone to weathering. With mother nature at work, this means that some of the towers have, over the course of time, become very narrow and fragile whilst remaining at an imposing height of up to 12 metres.
Wandering around in the afternoon sun, with these pillars in the background creating shadows, it did give the impression of a sinister, bony hand coming to rest upon your head… but that, of course, would only happen in a fairytale.
Not of great size, this site only takes about an hour to meander around and in some ways didn’t really live up to the expectations I had conjured in my mind. Perhaps it was all the talk of fairies in the tourist office that had left me imagining a site of magnificent proportions, but for me, it did somewhat lack the magical feel that I was after.
This doesn’t however mean people shouldn’t visit, it is after all a site of unusual rock formations with fantastic views spreading across the Tet Valley just make sure you taper your expectations accordingly.