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Day 5: Cordes-sur-Ciel

Our plan today was to head to a small village that was the last bastion of a religious sect called the Cathars, which held out against the Inquisition until 1312. The population had moved higher and higher until they lived above the low-lying clouds which caused the name to be adjusted from its traditional Cordes to Cordes-sur-Ciel in 1993.


I wasn't new to it, having been there once before in 2000 with a friend who rightly thought that it would be a shameful waste for me to live in the region but not visit any of these lovely places. We drove in her car. Things weren't to be so easy for us as train passengers though.

We'd taken the train and alighted at the appropriate station but it became clear that we'd been caught out by something of a ruse; the train station at Vindrac-Alayrac was several miles away from Cordes itself and there was a notice at the station explaining that to get there you'd have to phone the local taxi driver and get him to take you there and arrange a pick-up. A parisian lady who was with us was not impressed at all and spent the duration of our wait telling us that we should complain to some official body or other and that this was exactly what she was going to do. She gave the driver earache for the journey too, as though he's the one responsible for not building railway lines closer! We settled up with the driver, arranged a time for him to pick us up and bade goodbye to the lady, but not before being made to pledge that we would indeed write a letter of complaint. It's nearly four years later when I'm typing this and we still haven't done it; I imagine it's too late to get around to it now. Sorry, madame.

Spending time in Cordes is easy. Everywhere is still so medieval and getting anywhere inevitably means climbing upwards, so it wasn't going to be over in a hurry, even though it's a small place.

Going anywhere required a fair but of energy because it was uphill all the way:


The buildings retained their vintage appearance. Barely anything has changed over the centuries:


We unexpectedly came across a sweet little bell tower with a clock below it:


The streets had gift shops on either side but they weren't in any way gaudy. You'd have to look twice to notice them:


Some of the walls were surprisingly high:


At the appointed time the taxi driver arrived in the spot where we'd arranged to meet him. That worked out well for us because it wasn't the spot where we'd been dropped off, since the foot of Cordes operated a one-way system and so it was better for the driver to not have to head in the wrong direction for a bit.

Suitably rewarded for our sense of adventure, we decided to do something totally unplanned the next day by travelling to Andorra on the spur of the moment without having looked for a hotel.

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