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Title: Castles and Chateaux of Old Navarre and the Basque Provinces
Author: Mansfield, M. F. (Milburg Francisco), 1871-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      Castles and Chateaux of Old Navarre and the Basque Provinces



                               _WORKS OF_

                           _FRANCIS MILTOUN_

[Illustration: text decoration]


_Rambles on the Riviera_                                         $2.50

_Rambles in Normandy_                                             2.50

_Rambles in Brittany_                                             2.50

_The Cathedrals and Churches of the Rhine_                        2.50

_The Cathedrals of Northern France_                               2.50

_The Cathedrals of Southern France_                               2.50

_Castles and Chateaux of Old Touraine and the Loire Country_      3.00

_Castles and Chateaux of Old Navarre and the Basque Provinces_    3.00

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                                                        _Postage Extra_

                    [Illustration: text decoration]

                         _L. C. PAGE & COMPANY_

                 _New England Building, Boston, Mass._

              [Illustration: A PEASANT GIRL OF THE ARIÈGE]



                          Castles and Chateaux
                                   OF
                              OLD NAVARRE
                        AND THE BASQUE PROVINCES

               INCLUDING ALSO FOIX, ROUSSILLON AND BÉARN

                           BY FRANCIS MILTOUN

       Author of "Castles and Chateaux of Old Touraine," "Rambles
             in Normandy," "Rambles in Brittany," "Rambles
                         on the Riviera," etc.

                       _With Many Illustrations_

              _Reproduced from paintings made on the spot_

                           BY BLANCHE MCMANUS

                             [Illustration]

                                 BOSTON
                          L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
                                  1907


                           _Copyright, 1907_

                        BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
                             (INCORPORATED)

                         _All rights reserved_

                    First Impression, October, 1907

                            _COLONIAL PRESS
            Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co.
                           Boston, U. S. A._



By Way of Introduction

    "Cecy est un livre de bonne foy."
                 _Montaigne._


No account of the life and historical monuments of any section of the
old French provinces can be made to confine its scope within
geographical or topographical limits. The most that can be accomplished
is to centre the interest around some imaginary hub from which radiate
leading lines of historic and romantic interest.

Henri de Navarre is the chief romantic and historical figure of all that
part of France bounded on the south by the Pyrenean frontier of Spain.
He was but a Prince of Béarn when his mother, Jeanne d'Albret, became
the sovereign of French Navarre and of Béarn, but the romantic life
which had centred around the ancestral château at Pau was such that the
young prince went up to Paris with a training in chivalry and a love of
pomp and splendour which was second only to that of François I. The
little kingdom of Navarre, the principality of Béarn, and the dukedoms
and countships which surround them, from the Mediterranean on the east
to the Gulf of Gascony on the west, are so intimately connected with the
gallant doings of men and women of those old days that the region known
as the Pyrenean provinces of the later monarchy of France stands in a
class by itself with regard to the romance and chivalry of feudal days.

The dukes, counts and seigneurs of Languedoc and Gascony have been names
to conjure with for the novelists of the Dumas school; and, too, the
manners and customs of the earlier troubadours and crusaders formed a
motive for still another coterie of fictionists of the romantic school.
In the Comté de Foix one finds a link which binds the noblesse of the
south with that of the north. It is the story of Françoise de Foix, who
became the Marquise de Chateaubriant, the wife of Jean de Laval, that
Breton Bluebeard whose atrocities were almost as great as those of his
brother of the fairy tale. And the ties are numerous which have joined
the chatelains of these feudal châteaux and courts of the Midi with
those of the Domain of France.

These petty countships, dukedoms and kingdoms of the Pyrenees were
absorbed into France in 1789, and to-day their nomenclature has
disappeared from the geographies; but the habitant of the Basses
Pyrénées, the Pyrénées Orientales, and the Hautes Pyrénées keeps the
historical distinctions of the past as clearly defined in his own mind
as if he were living in feudal times. The Béarnais refers contemptuously
to the men of Roussillon as Catalans, and to the Basques as a wild,
weird kind of a being, neither French nor Spanish.

The geographical limits covered by the actual journeyings outlined in
the following pages skirt the French slopes of the Pyrenees from the
Atlantic Gulf of Gascony to the Mediterranean Gulf of Lyons, and so on
to the mouths of the Rhône, where they join another series of recorded
rambles, conceived and already evolved into a book by the same author
and artist.[1] The whole itinerary has been carefully thought out and
minutely covered in many journeyings by road and rail, crossing and
recrossing from east to west and from west to east that delectable land
commonly known to the Parisian Frenchman as the Midi.

[1] "Castles and Châteaux of Old Touraine and the Loire Country."

The contrasts with which one meets in going between the extreme
boundaries of east and west are very great, both with respect to men and
to manners; the Niçois is no brother of the Basque, though they both be
swarthy and speak a _patois_, even to-day as unlike modern French as is
the speech of the Breton or the Flamand. The Catalan of Roussillon is
quite unlike the Languedoçian of the Camargue plain, and the peasant of
the Aude or the Ariège bears little or no resemblance in speech or
manners to the Béarnais.

There is a subtle charm and appeal in the magnificent feudal châteaux
and fortified bourgs of this region which is quite different from the
warmer emotions awakened by the great Renaissance masterpieces of
Touraine and the Loire country. Each is irresistible. Whether one
contemplates the imposing château at Pau, or the more delicately
conceived Chenonceaux; the old walled Cité of Carcassonne, or the walls
and ramparts of Clisson or of Angers; the Roman arena at Nîmes, or the
Roman Arc de Triomphe at Saintes, there is equal charm and contrast.

To the greater appreciation, then, of the people of Southern France, and
of the gallant types of the Pyrenean provinces in particular, the
following pages have been written and illustrated.

                                                                   F. M.

PERPIGNAN, _August_, 1907.



[Illustration: CONTENTS]


CHAPTER                                           PAGE

       BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION                        v

    I. A GENERAL SURVEY                              1

   II. FEUDAL FRANCE--ITS PEOPLE AND ITS
       CHÂTEAUX                                     18

  III. THE PYRENEES--THEIR GEOGRAPHY AND
       TOPOGRAPHY                                   46

   IV. THE PYRENEES--THEIR HISTORY AND PEOPLE       73

    V. ROUSSILLON AND THE CATALANS                  95

   VI. FROM PERPIGNAN TO THE SPANISH FRONTIER      110

  VII. THE CANIGOU AND ANDORRA                     130

 VIII. THE HIGH VALLEY OF THE AUDE                 152

   IX. THE WALLS OF CARCASSONNE                    161

    X. THE COUNTS OF FOIX                          175

   XI. FOIX AND ITS CHÂTEAU                        185

  XII. THE VALLEY OF THE ARIÈGE                    197

 XIII. ST. LIZIER AND THE COUSERANS                211

  XIV. THE PAYS DE COMMINGES                       222

   XV. BÉARN AND THE BÉARNAIS                      230

  XVI. OF THE HISTORY AND TOPOGRAPHY OF BÉARN      244

  XVII. PAU AND ITS CHÂTEAU                        258

 XVIII. LESCAR, THE SEPULCHRE OF THE BÉARNAIS      278

   XIX. THE GAVE D'OSSAU                           287

    XX. TARBES, BIGORRE AND LUCHON                 297

   XXI. BY THE BLUE GAVE DE PAU                    307

  XXII. OLORON AND THE VAL D'ASPE                  324

 XXIII. ORTHEZ AND THE GAVE D'OLORON               335

  XXIV. THE BIRTH OF FRENCH NAVARRE                354

   XXV. THE BASQUES                                372

  XXVI. SAINT-JEAN-PIED-DE-PORT AND THE COL
            DE RONÇEVAUX                           393

 XXVII. THE VALLEY OF THE NIVE                     405

XXVIII. BAYONNE: ITS PORT AND ITS WALLS            413

  XXIX. BIARRITZ AND SAINT-JEAN-DE-LUZ             422

   XXX. THE BIDASSOA AND THE FRONTIER              436

        INDEX                                      449



[Illustration: LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS]


                                                          PAGE

A PEASANT GIRL OF THE ARIÈGE                     _Frontispiece_

THE PYRENEAN PROVINCES MAP                        _facing_   1

WATCH-TOWER IN THE VAL D'ANDORRE                  _facing_  24

FEUDAL FLAGS AND BANNERS                                    32

THE PEAKS OF THE PYRENEES (Map)                             49

BRÈCHE DE ROLAND                                  _facing_  50

THE COL DE PERTHUS (Map)                                    57

THE FIVE PROPOSED RAILWAYS (Map)                            68

STATIONS THERMALES (Map)                                    69

THE BASQUES OF THE MOUNTAINS                      _facing_  74

IN A PYRENEAN HERMITAGE                           _facing_  78

A MOUNTAINEER OF THE PYRENEES                     _facing_  84

GITANOS FROM SPAIN                                          91

ROUSSILLON (Map)                                            95

CATALANS OF ROUSSILLON                            _facing_  98

THE WOMEN OF ROUSSILLON                           _facing_ 100

ARMS OF PERPIGNAN                                          110

PORTE NOTRE DAME AND THE CASTILLET, PERPIGNAN     _facing_ 112

CHÂTEAU ROUSSILLON                                _facing_ 118

COLLIOURE                                         _facing_ 124

CHÂTEAU D'ULTRERA                                 _facing_ 126

THE PILGRIMAGE TO ST. MARTIN                      _facing_ 132

VILLEFRANCHE                                      _facing_ 142

ARMS OF ANDORRA                                            147

CHÂTEAU DE PUYLAURENS                             _facing_ 154

AXAT                                              _facing_ 158

PLAN OF CARCASSONNE (Diagram)                              164

THE WALLS OF CARCASSONNE                          _facing_ 166

GROUND PLAN OF THE CHÂTEAU DE FOIX (Diagram)               190

CHÂTEAU DE FOIX                                   _facing_ 190

KEY OF THE VAULTING, CHÂTEAU DE FOIX, SHOWING
      THE ARMS OF THE COMTES DE FOIX                       191

TARASCON-SUR-ARIÈGE                               _facing_ 202

CHÂTEAU DE LOURDAT                                _facing_ 210

ST. LIZIER                                        _facing_ 216

TRAINED BEARS OF THE VALLÉE D'USTOU               _facing_ 218

ST. BERTRAND DE COMMINGES                         _facing_ 224

PAU AND THE SURROUNDING COUNTRY (Map)                      258

ARMS OF THE CITY OF PAU                                    259

CHÂTEAU DE PAU                                    _facing_ 268

ESPADRILLE-MAKERS                                 _facing_ 288

A SHEPHERD OF BIGORRE                             _facing_ 302

CHÂTEAU DE COARRAZE                               _facing_ 308

CHÂTEAU DE LOURDES                                _facing_ 314

CAUTERETS                                         _facing_ 318

THE PONT D'ORTHEZ                                 _facing_ 338

THE WALLS OF NAVARREUX                            _facing_ 346

BÉARN AND NAVARRE (Map)                                    354

KINGS OF BASSE-NAVARRE AND KINGS OF FRANCE
      AND NAVARRE (Diagram)                                360

THE ARMS OF NAVARRE                                        362

ARMS OF HENRI IV OF FRANCE AND NAVARRE            _facing_ 368

THE BASQUE COUNTRY (Map)                                   372

THE GAME OF _PELOTA_                              _facing_ 378

"LE CHEVALET"                                     _facing_ 390

THE QUAINT STREETS OF SAINT-JEAN-PIED-DE-PORT     _facing_ 394

ARMS OF BAYONNE                                            413

A GATEWAY OF BAYONNE                              _facing_ 414

BIARRITZ AND THE SURROUNDING COUNTRY (Map)                 422

BIARRITZ                                          _facing_ 424

ST.-JEAN-DE-LUZ                                   _facing_ 430

ILE DE FAISANS (Map)                                       437

THE FRONTIER AT HENDAYE (Map)                              441

MAISON PIERRE LOTI, HENDAYE                       _facing_ 442

IN OLD FEUNTARRABIA                               _facing_ 446

[Illustration: The PYRENEAN PROVINCES]



Castles and Chateaux
of Old Navarre
and the Basque Provinces



CHAPTER I

A GENERAL SURVEY


This book is no record of exploitation or discovery; it is simply a
review of many things seen and heard anent that marvellous and
comparatively little known region vaguely described as "the Pyrenees,"
of which the old French provinces (and before them the independent
kingdoms, countships and dukedoms) of Béarn, Navarre, Foix and
Roussillon are the chief and most familiar.

The region has been known as a touring ground for long years, and
mountain climbers who have tired of the monotony of the Alps have found
much here to quicken their jaded appetites. Besides this, there is a
wealth of historic fact and a quaintness of men and manners throughout
all this wonderful country of infinite variety, which has been little
worked, as yet, by any but the guide-book makers, who deal with only the
dryest of details and with little approach to completeness.

The monuments of the region, the historic and ecclesiastical shrines,
are numerous enough to warrant a very extended review, but they have
only been hinted at once and again by travellers who have usually made
the round of the resorts like Biarritz, Pau, Luchon and Lourdes their
chief reason for coming here at all.

Delightful as are these places, and a half a dozen others whose names
are less familiar, the little known townlets with their historic
sites--such as Mazères, with its Château de Henri Quatre, Navarreux,
Mauléon, Morlaas, Nay, and Bruges (peopled originally by
_Flamands_)--make up an itinerary quite as important as one composed of
the names of places writ large in the guide-books and in black type on
the railway-maps.

The region of the Pyrenees is most accessible, granted it is off the
regular beaten travel track. The tide of Mediterranean travel is
breaking hard upon its shores to-day; but few who are washed ashore by
it go inland from Barcelona and Perpignan, and so on to the old-time
little kingdoms of the Pyrenees. Fewer still among those who go to
southern France, via Marseilles, ever think of turning westward instead
of eastward--the attraction of Monte Carlo and its satellite resorts is
too great. The same is true of those about to "do" the Spanish tour,
which usually means Holy Week at Seville, a day in the Prado and another
at the Alhambra and Grenada, Toledo of course, and back again north to
Paris, or to take ship at Gibraltar. En route they may have stopped at
Biarritz, in France, or San Sebastian, in Spain, because it is the vogue
just at present, but that is all.

It was thus that we had known "the Pyrenees." We knew Pau and its
ancestral château of Henri Quatre; had had a look at Biarritz; had been
to Lourdes, Luchon and Tarbes and even to Cauterets and Bigorre, and to
Foix, Carcassonne and Toulouse, but those were reminiscences of days of
railway travel. Since that time the automobile has come to make travel
in out-of-the-way places easy, and instead of having to bargain for a
sorry hack to take us through the Gorges de Pierre Lys, or from
Perpignan to Prats-de-Mollo we found an even greater pleasure in finding
our own way and setting our own pace.

This is the way to best know a country not one's own, and whether we
were contemplating the spot where Charlemagne and his followers met
defeat at the hands of the Mountaineers, or stood where the Romans
erected their great _trophée_, high above Bellegarde, we were sure that
we were always on the trail we would follow, and were not being driven
hither and thither by a _cocher_ who classed all strangers as "mere
tourists," and pointed out a cavern with gigantic stalagmites or a
profile rock as being the "chief sights" of his neighbourhood, when near
by may have been a famous battle-ground or the château where was born
the gallant Gaston Phoebus. Really, tourists, using the word in its
over-worked sense, are themselves responsible for much that is banal in
the way of sights; they won't follow out their own predilections, but
walk blindly in the trail of others whose tastes may not be their own.

Travel by road, by diligence or omnibus, is more frequent all through
the French departments bordering on the Pyrenees than in any other part
of France, save perhaps in Dauphiné and Savoie, and the linking up of
various loose ends of railway by such a means is one of the delights of
travel in these parts--if you don't happen to have an automobile handy.

Beyond a mere appreciation of mediæval architectural delights of
_châteaux_, _manoirs_, and _gentilhommières_ of the region, this book
includes some comments on the manner of living in those far-away times
when chivalry flourished on this classically romantic ground. It treats,
too, somewhat of men and manners of to-day, for here in this southwest
corner of France much of modern life is but a reminiscence of that which
has gone before.

Many of the great spas of to-day, such as the Bagnères de Bigorre,
Salies de Béarn, Cauterets, Eaux-Bonnes, or Amélie les Bains, have a
historic past, as well as a present vogue. They were known in some cases
to the Romans, and were often frequented by the royalties of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and therein is another link which
binds the present with the past.

One feature of the region resulting from the alliance of the life of the
princes, counts and seigneurs of the romantic past, with that of the
monks and prelates of those times is the religious architecture.

Since the overlord or seigneur of a small district was often an amply
endowed archbishop or bishop, or the lands round about belonged by
ancient right to some community of monkish brethren, it is but natural
that mention of some of their more notable works and institutions should
have found a place herein. Where such inclusion is made, it is always
with the consideration of the part played in the stirring affairs of
mediæval times by some fat monk or courtly prelate, who was, if not a
compeer, at least a companion of the lay lords and seigneurs.

Not all the fascinating figures of history have been princes and counts;
sometimes they were cardinal-archbishops, and when they were wealthy and
powerful seigneurs as well they became at once principal characters on
the stage. Often they have been as romantic and chivalrous (and as
intriguing and as greedy) as the most dashing hero who ever wore cloak
and doublet.

Still another species of historical characters and monuments is found
plentifully besprinkled through the pages of the chronicles of the
Pyrenean kingdoms and provinces, and that is the class which includes
warriors and their fortresses.

A castle may well be legitimately considered as a fortress, and a
château as a country house; the two are quite distinct one from the
other, though often their functions have been combined.

Throughout the Pyrenees are many little walled towns, fortifications,
watch-towers and what not, architecturally as splendid, and as great, as
the most glorious domestic establishment of Renaissance days. The _cité_
of Carcassonne, more especially, is one of these. Carcassonne's château
is as naught considered without the ramparts of the mediæval _cité_, but
together, what a splendid historical souvenir they form! The most
splendid, indeed, that still exists in Europe, or perhaps that ever did
exist.

Prats-de-Mollo and its walls, its tower, and the defending Fort
Bellegarde; Saint Bertrand de Comminges and its walls; or even the
quaintly picturesque defences of Vauban at Bayonne, where one enters the
city to-day through various gateway breaches in the walls, are all as
reminiscent of the vivid life of the history-making past, as is Henri
Quatre's tortoise-shell cradle at Pau, or Gaston de Foix' ancestral
château at Mazères.

Mostly it is the old order of things with which one comes into contact
here, but the blend of the new and old is sometimes astonishing. Luchon
and Pau and Tarbes and Lourdes, and many other places for that matter,
have over-progressed. This has been remarked before now; the writer is
not alone in his opinion.

The equal of the charm of the Pyrenean country, its historic sites, its
quaint peoples, and its scenic splendours does not exist in all France.
It is a blend of French and Spanish manners and blood, lending a
colour-scheme to life that is most enjoyable to the seeker after new
delights.

Before the Revolution, France was divided into fifty-two provinces, made
up wholly from the petty states of feudal times. Of the southern
provinces, seven in all, this book deals in part with Gascogne (capital
Auch), the Comté de Foix (capital Foix), Roussillon (capital Perpignan),
Haute-Languedoc (capital Toulouse), and Bas-Languedoc (capital
Montpellier). Of the southwest provinces, a part of Guyenne (capital
Bordeaux) is included, also Navarre (capital Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port)
and Béarn (capital Pau).

Besides these general divisions, there were many minor _petits pays_
compressed within the greater, such as Armagnac, Comminges, the
Condanois, the Pays-Entre-Deux-Mers, the Landes, etc. These, too,
naturally come within the scope of this book.

Finally, in the new order of things, the ancient provinces lost their
nomenclature after the Revolution, and the Département of the Landes
(and three others) was carved out of Guyenne; the Département of the
Basses-Pyrénées absorbed Navarre, Béarn and the Basque provinces;
Bigorre became the Hautes-Pyrénées; Foix became Ariège; Roussillon
became the Pyrénées-Orientales, and Haute-Languedoc and Bas-Languedoc
gave Hérault, Gard, Haute-Garonne and the Aude. For the most part all
come within the scope of these pages, and together these modern
départements form an unbreakable historical and topographical frontier
link from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

This bird's-eye view of the Pyrenean provinces, then, is a sort of
picturesque, informal report of things seen and facts garnered through
more or less familiarity with the region, its history, its institutions
and its people. Châteaux and other historical monuments, agriculture and
landscape, market-places and peasant life, all find a place here,
inasmuch as all relate to one another, and all blend into that very
nearly perfect whole which makes France so delightful to the traveller.

Everywhere in this delightful region, whether on the mountain side or in
the plains, the very atmosphere is charged with an extreme of life and
colour, and both the physiognomy of landscape and the physiognomy of
humanity is unfailing in its appeal to one's interest.

Here there are no guide-book phrases in the speech of the people, no
struggling lines of "conducted" tourists with a polyglot conductor, and
no futile labelling of doubtful historic monuments; there are enough of
undoubted authenticity without this.

Thoroughly tired and wearied of the progress and super-civilization of
the cities and towns of the well-worn roads, it becomes a real pleasure
to seek out the by-paths of the old French provinces, and their historic
and romantic associations, in their very crudities and fragments every
whit as interesting as the better known stamping-grounds of the
conventional tourist.

The folk of the Pyrenees, in their faces and figures, in their speech
and customs, are as varied as their histories. They are a bright, gay,
careless folk, with ever a care and a kind word for the stranger,
whether they are Catalan, Basque or Béarnais.

Since the economic aspects of a country have somewhat to do with its
history it is important to recognize that throughout the Pyrenees the
grazing and wine-growing industries predominate among agricultural
pursuits.

There is a very considerable raising of sheep and of horses and mules,
and somewhat of beef, and there is some growing of grain, but in the
main--outside of the sheep-grazing of the higher valleys--it is the
wine-growing industry that gives the distinctive note of activity and
prosperity to the lower slopes and plains.

For the above mentioned reason it is perhaps well to recount here just
what the wine industry and the wine-drinking of France amounts to.

One may have a preference for Burgundy or Bordeaux, Champagne or Saumur,
or even plain, plebeian beer, but it is a pity that the great mass of
wine-drinkers, outside of Continental Europe, do not make their
distinctions with more knowledge of wines when they say this or that is
the _best_ one, instead of making their estimate by the prices on the
wine-card. Anglo-Saxons (English and Americans) are for the most part
not connoisseurs in wine, because they don't know the fundamental facts
about wine-growing.

For red wines the Bordeaux--less full-bodied and heavy--are very near
rivals of the best Burgundies, and have more bouquet and more flavour.
The Medocs are the best among Bordeaux wines. Château-Lafitte and
Château-Latour are very rare in commerce and very high in price when
found. They come from the commune of Pauillac. Château Margaux, St.
Estèphe and St. Julien follow in the order named and are the leaders
among the red wines of Bordeaux--when you get the real thing, which you
don't at bargain store prices.

The white wines of Bordeaux, the Graves, come from a rocky soil; the
Sauternes, with the vintage of Château d'Yquem, lead the list, with
Barsac, Entre-Deux-Mers and St. Emilion following. There are innumerable
second-class Bordeaux wines, but they need not be enumerated, for if
one wants a name merely there are plenty of wine merchants who will sell
him any of the foregoing beautifully bottled and labelled as the "real
thing."

Down towards the Pyrenees the wines change notably in colour, price and
quality, and they are good wines too. Those of Bergerac and Quercy are
rich, red wines sold mostly in the markets of Cahors; and the wines of
Toulouse, grown on the sunny hill-slopes between Toulouse and the
frontier, are thick, alcoholic wines frequently blended with real
Bordeaux--to give body, not flavour.

The wines of Armagnac are mostly turned into _eau de vie_, and just as
good _eau de vie_ as that of Cognac, though without its flavour, and
without its advertising, which is the chief reason why the two or three
principal brands of cognac are called for at the wine-dealers.

At Chalosse, in the Landes, between Bayonne and Bordeaux, are also grown
wines made mostly into _eau de vie_.

Béarn produces a light coloured wine, a specialty of the country, and an
acquired taste like olives and Gorgonzola cheese. From Béarn, also,
comes the famous _cru de Jurançon_, celebrated since the days of Henri
Quatre, a simple, full-bodied, delicious-tasting, red wine.

Thirteen départements of modern France comprise largely the wine-growing
region of the basin of the Garonne, included in the territory covered by
this book. This region gives a wine crop of thirteen and a half millions
of hectolitres a year. In thirty years the production has augmented by
sixty per cent., and still dealers very often sell a fabricated
imitation of the genuine thing. Wine drinking is increasing as well as
alcoholism, regardless of what the doctors try to prove.

The wines of the Midi of France in general are famous, and have been for
generations, to _bons vivants_. The soil, the climate and pretty much
everything else is favourable to the vine, from the Spanish frontier in
the Pyrenees to that of Italy in the Alpes-Maritimes. The wines of the
Midi are of three sorts, each quite distinct from the others; the
ordinary table wines, the cordials, and the wines for distilling, or for
blending. Within the topographical confines of this book one
distinguishes all three of these groups, those of Roussillon, those of
Languedoc, and those of Armagnac.

The rocky soil of Roussillon, alone, for example (neighbouring
Collioure, Banyuls and Rivesaltes), gives each of the three, and the
heavy wines of the same region, for blending (most frequently with
Bordeaux), are greatly in demand among expert wine-factors all over
France. In the Département de l'Aude, the wines of Lézignan and Ginestas
are attached to this last group. The traffic in these wines is
concentrated at Carcassonne and Narbonne. At Limoux there is a specialty
known as Blanquette de Limoux--a wine greatly esteemed, and almost as
good an imitation of champagne as is that of Saumur.

In Languedoc, in the Département of Hérault, and Gard, twelve millions
of hectolitres are produced yearly of a heavy-bodied red wine, also
largely used for fortifying other wines and used, naturally, in the
neighbourhood, pure or mixed with water. This thinning out with water is
almost necessary; the drinker who formerly got outside of three bottles
of port before crawling under the table, would go to pieces long before
he had consumed the same quantity of local wine unmixed with water at a
Montpellier or Béziers table d'hôte.

At Cette, at Frontignan, and at Lunel are fabricated many "foreign"
wines, including the Malagas, the Madères and the Xeres of commerce.
Above all the _Muscat de Frontignan_ is revered among its competitors,
and it's not a "foreign" wine either, but the juice of dried grapes or
raisins,--grape juice if you like,--a sweet, mild dessert wine, very,
very popular with the ladies.

There is a considerable crop of table raisins in the Midi, particularly
at Montauban and in maritime Provence which, if not rivalling those of
Malaga in looks, have certainly a more delicate flavour.

Along with the wines of the Midi may well be coupled the olives. For oil
those of the Bouches-du-Rhône are the best. They bring the highest
prices in the foreign market, but along the easterly slopes of the
Pyrenees, in Roussillon, in the Aude, and in Hérault and Gard they run a
close second. The olives of France are not the fat, plump, "queen"
olives, sold usually in little glass jars, but a much smaller, greener,
less meaty variety, but richer in oil and nutriment.

The olive trees grow in long ranks and files, amid the vines or even
cereals, very much trimmed (in goblet shape, so that the ripening sun
may reach the inner branches) and are of small size. Their pale green,
shimmering foliage holds the year round, but demands a warm sunny
climate. The olive trees of the Midi of France--as far west as the
Comté de Foix in the Pyrenees, and as far north as Montelimar on the
Rhône--are quite the most frequently noted characteristic of the
landscape. The olive will not grow, however, above an altitude of four
hundred metres.

The foregoing pages outline in brief the chief characteristics of the
present day aspect of the old Pyrenean French provinces of which Béarn
and Basse-Navarre, with the Comté de Foix were the heart and soul.

The topographical aspect of the Pyrenees, their history, and as full a
description of their inhabitants as need be given will be found in a
section dedicated thereto.

For the rest, the romantic stories of kings and counts, and of lords and
ladies, and their feudal fortresses and Renaissance châteaux, with a
mention of such structures of interest as naturally come within nearby
vision will be found duly recorded further on.



CHAPTER II

FEUDAL FRANCE--ITS PEOPLE AND ITS CHÂTEAUX


It was not the Revolution alone that brought about a division of landed
property in France. The Crusades, particularly that of Saint Bernard,
accomplished the same thing, though perhaps to a lesser extent. The
seigneurs were impoverished already by excesses of all kinds, and they
sold parts of their lands to any who would buy, and on almost any terms.
Sometimes it was to a neighbouring, less powerful, seigneur; sometimes
to a rich bourgeois--literally a town-dweller, not simply one vulgarly
rich--or even to an ecclesiastic; and sometimes to that vague entity
known as "_le peuple_." The peasant proprietor was a factor in land
control before the Revolution; the mere recollection of the fact that
Louis-le-Hutin enfranchised the serfs demonstrates this.

The serfdom of the middle ages, in some respects, did not differ from
ancient slavery, and in the most stringent of feudal times there were
numerous serfs, servants and labourers attached to the seigneur's
service. These he sold, gave away, exchanged, or bequeathed, and in
these sales, children were often separated from their parents. The
principal cause of enfranchisement was the necessity for help which
sprang from the increase in the value of land. A sort of chivalric
swindle under the name of "the right of taking" was carried on among the
lords, who endeavoured to get men away from one another and thus flight
became the great resort of the dissatisfied peasant.

In order to get those belonging to others, and to keep his own, the
proprietor, when enfranchising the serfs, benevolently gave them land.
Thus grew up the peasant landowner, the seigneur keeping only more or
less limited rights, but those onerous enough when he chose to put on
the screw.

In this way much of the land belonging to the nobles and clergy became
the patrimony of the plebeians, and remained so, for they were at first
forbidden to sell their lands to noblemen or clergy. Then came other
kinds of intermediary leases, something between the distribution of the
land under the feudal system and its temporary occupancy of to-day
through the payment of rent. Such were the "domains" in Brittany, Anjou
and elsewhere, held under the emphyteusis (long lease), which was really
the right of sale, where the land, let out for an indefinite time and at
a fixed rent, could be taken back by the landlord only on certain
expensive terms. This was practically the death knell of feudal land
tenure. Afterward came leases of fifty years, for life, or for "three
lifetimes," by which time the rights of the original noble owners had
practically expired.

Finally, all landowners found these systems disadvantageous. The
landlord's share in the product of the soil (as a form of rent)
continually increased, while the condition of the farmer grew worse and
worse.

Since the Revolution, the modern method of cultivation of land on a
large scale constitutes an advance over anything previously conceived,
just as the distribution of the land under the feudal régime constituted
an advance over the system in vogue in earlier times.

Times have changed in France since the days when the education of the
masses was unthought of. Then the curé or a monkish brother would get a
few children together at indeterminate periods and teach them the
catechism, a paternoster or a credo, and that was about all. Writing,
arithmetic--much less the teaching of grammar--were deemed entirely
unnecessary to the growing youth. Then (and the writer has seen the same
thing during his last dozen years of French travel) it was a common
sight to see the sign "Ecrivain Publique" hanging over, or beside, many
a doorway in a large town.

The Renaissance overflow from Italy left a great impress on the art and
literature of France, and all its bright array of independent
principalities. The troubadours and minstrels of still earlier days had
given way to the efforts and industry of royalty itself. François
Premier, and, for aught we know, all his followers, penned verses,
painted pictures, and patronized authors and artists, until the very
soil itself breathed an art atmosphere.

Marguerite de Valois (1492-1549), the sister of François Premier, was
called the tenth muse even before she became Queen of Navarre, and when
she produced her Boccoccio-like stories, afterwards known as the
"Heptameron of the Queen of Navarre," enthusiasm for letters among the
noblesse knew no bounds.

The spirit of romance which went out from the soft southland was tinged
with a certain license and liberty which was wanting in the "Romaunt of
the Rose" of Guillaume de Lorris, and like works, but it served to
strike a passionate fire in the hearts of men which at least was bred of
a noble sentiment.

What the Renaissance actually did for a French national architecture is
a matter of doubt. But for its coming, France might have achieved a
national scheme of building as an outgrowth of the Greek, Roman, and
Saracen structures which had already been planted between the Alps and
the Pyrenees. The Gothic architecture of France comes nearer to being a
national achievement than any other, but its application in its first
form to a great extent was to ecclesiastical building. In domestic and
civil architecture, and in walls and ramparts, there exists very good
Gothic indeed in France, but of a heavier, less flowery style than that
of its highest development in churchly edifices.

The Romanesque, and even the pointed-arch architecture (which, be it
remembered, need not necessarily be Gothic) of southern and mid-France,
with the Moorish and Saracenic interpolations found in the Pyrenees, was
the typical civic, military and domestic manner of building before the
era of the imitation of the debased Lombardic which came in the days of
Charles VIII and François Premier. This variety spread swiftly all over
France--and down the Rhine, and into England for that matter--and
crowded out the sloping roof, the dainty colonnette and ribbed vaulting
in favour of a heavier, but still ornate, barrel-vaulted and pillared,
low-set edifice with most of the faults of the earlier Romanesque, and
none of its excellences.

The parts that architects and architecture played in the development of
France were tremendous. Voltaire first promulgated this view, and his
aphorisms are many; "My fancy is to be an architect." "Mansard was one
of the greatest architects known to France." "Architects were the ruin
of Louis XIV." "The Cathedral builders were sublime barbarians."
Montesquieu was more sentimental when he said: "Love is an architect who
builds palaces on ruins if he pleases."

The greatest architectural expression of a people has ever been in its
Christian monuments, but references to the cathedrals, churches and
chapels of the Pyrenean states have for the most part been regretfully
omitted from these pages, giving place to fortresses, châteaux, great
bridges, towers, donjons, and such public monuments as have a special
purport in keeping with the preconceived limits of a volume which deals
largely with the romance of feudal times.

Generally speaking, the architectural monuments of these parts are
little known by the mass of travellers, except perhaps Henri Quatre's
ancestral château at Pau, the famous walls of Carcassonne, and perhaps
Bayonne's bridges or the Eglise St. Saturnin and the bizarre cathedral
of St. Etienne at Toulouse. All of these are excellent of their kind;
indeed perhaps they are superlative in their class; but when one
mentions Perpignan's Castillet, the Château de Puylaurens, the arcaded
Gothic houses of Agde, Béziers' fortress-cathedral, the fortress-church
of St. Bertrand de Comminges or a score of other tributary monumental
relics, something hitherto unthought of is generally disclosed.

Almost the whole range of architectural display is seen here between the
Mediterranean and the Gulf of Gascony, and any rambling itinerary laid
out between the two seas will discover as many structural and decorative
novelties as will be found in any similar length of roadway in France.

[Illustration: _Watch-tower in the Val d'Andorre_]

Leaving the purely ecclesiastical edifices--cathedrals and great
churches--out of the question, the entire Midi of France, and the French
slopes and valleys of the Pyrenees in particular, abounds in
architectural curiosities which are marvels to the student and lover of
art.

There are _châteaux_, _chastels_ and _chastillons_, one differing from
another by subtle distinctions which only the expert can note. Then
there are such feudal accessories as watch-towers, donjons and
_clochers_, and great fortifying walls and gates and barbicans, and even
entire fortified towns like Carcassonne and La Bastide. Surely the
feudality, or rather its relics, cannot be better studied than
here,--"where the people held the longest aloof from the Crown."

The watch-towers which flank many of the valleys of the Pyrenees are a
great curiosity and quandary to archæologists and historians. Formerly
they flashed the news of wars or invasions from one outpost to another,
much as does wireless telegraphy of to-day. Of these watch-towers, or
_tours télégraphiques_, as the modern French historians call them, that
of Castel-Biel, near Luchon, is the most famous. It rises on the peak of
a tiny mountain in the valley of the Pique and is a square structure of
perhaps a dozen or fifteen feet on each side. Sixteen feet or so from
the ground, on the northwest façade, is an opening leading to the first
floor. This tower is typical of its class, and is the most accessible to
the hurried traveller.

The feudal history of France is most interesting to recall in this late
day when every man is for himself. Not all was oppression by any means,
and the peasant landowner--as distinct from the _vilain_ and _serf_--was
a real person, and not a supposition, even before the Revolution; though
Thomas Carlyle on his furzy Scotch moor didn't know it.

Feudal France consisted of seventy thousand fiefs or rere-fiefs, of
which three thousand gave their names to their seigneurs. All seigneurs
who possessed three _châtellenies_ and a walled hamlet (_ville close_)
had the right of administering justice without reference to a higher
court. There were something more than seven thousand of these _villes
closes_, within which, or on the lands belonging to the seigneurs
thereof, were one million eight hundred and seventy-two thousand
monuments,--churches, monasteries, abbeys, châteaux, castles, and royal
or episcopal palaces. It was thus that religious, civic and military
architecture grew side by side and, when new styles and modifications
came in, certain interpolations were forthwith incorporated in the more
ancient fabrics, giving that mélange of picturesque walls and roofs
which makes France the best of all lands in which to study the
architecture of mediævalism. Among these mediæval relics were
interspersed others more ancient,--Roman and Greek basilicas, temples,
baths, arenas, amphitheatres and aqueducts in great profusion, whose
remains to-day are considerably more than mere fragments.

The hereditary aristocracy of France, the rulers and the noblesse of the
smaller kingdoms, dukedoms and countships, were great builders, as
befitted their state, and, being mostly great travellers and persons of
wealth, they really surrounded themselves with many exotic forms of
luxury which a more isolated or exclusive race would never have
acquired. There is no possible doubt whatever but that it is the very
mixture of styles and types that make the architecture of France so
profoundly interesting even though one decries the fact that it is not
_national_.

One well recognized fact concerning France can hardly fail to be
reiterated by any who write of the manners and customs and the arts of
mediæval times, and that is that the figures of population of those days
bear quite similar resemblances to those of to-day. Historians of a
hundred years back, even, estimated the total population of France in
the fifteenth century as being very nearly the same as at the
Revolution,--perhaps thirty millions. To-day eight or perhaps ten
millions more may be counted, but the increase is invariably in the
great cities, Paris, Lyons, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Rouen, etc. Oloron and
Orthez in Béarn, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in Navarre, or Agde or Elne in
Roussillon, remain at the same figure at which they have stood for
centuries, unless, as is more often the case, they have actually fallen
off in numbers. And still France is abnormally prosperous, collectively
and individually, so far as old-world nations go.

Originally the nobility in France was of four degrees: the _noblesse_ of
the blood royal, the _haute-noblesse_, the _noblesse ordinaire_ and the
_noblesse_ who were made noble by patent of the ruling prince. All of
these distinctions were hereditary, save, in some instances, the
_noblesse ordinaire_.

In the height of feudal glory there were accredited over four thousand
families belonging to the _ancienne noblesse_, and ninety thousand
_familles nobles_ (descendant branches of the above houses) who could
furnish a hundred thousand knightly combatants for any "little war" that
might be promulgated.

Sometimes the family name was noble and could be handed down, and
sometimes not. Sometimes, too, inheritance was through the mother, not
the father; this was known as the _noblesse du ventre_. A foreign noble
naturalized in France remained noble, and retained his highest title of
right.

The French nobles most often took their titles from their fiefs, and
these, with the exception of baronies and _marquisats_, were usually of
Roman origin. The chief titles below the _noblesse du sang royal_ were
_ducs_, _barons_, _marquis_, _comtes_, _vicomtes_, _vidames_, and
_chevaliers_ and each had their special armorial distinctions, some
exceedingly simple, and some so elaborate with quarterings and
blazonings as to be indefinable by any but a heraldic expert.

The coats of arms of feudal France, or _armoiries_, as the French call
them (a much better form of expression by the way), are a most
interesting subject of study. Some of these _armoiries_ are really
beautiful, some quaint and some enigmatic, as for instance those of the
King of Navarre.

The Revolutionary Assembly abolished such things in France, but Napoleon
restored them all again, and created a new noblesse as well:

    "Aussitôt maint esprit fécond en reveries,
     Inventa le blason avec les armoiries."

sang the poet Boileau.

Primarily _armoiries_ were royal bequests, but in these days a
pork-packer, an iron-founder or a cheese-maker concocts a trade-mark on
heraldic lines and the thing has fallen flat. Fancy a pig sitting on a
barrel top and flanked by two ears of corn, or a pyramid of cheeses
overtopped by the motto "A full stomach maketh good health." Why it's
almost as ridiculous as a crossed pick-axe, a shovel and a crow-bar
would be for a navvy on a railway line! In the old days it was not often
thus, though a similar ridiculous thing, which no one seemed to take the
trouble to suppress, was found in the "_Armoiries des gueux_." One of
these showed two twists of tobacco _en croix_, with the following motto:
"_Dieu vous bénisse_!"

At the head of the list of French _armoiries_ were those of _domain_ or
_souveraineté_.

Then followed several other distinct classes. "_Armoiries de
Pretention_," where the patronal rights over a city or a province were
given the holders, even though the province was under the chief
domination of a more powerful noble.

"_Armoiries de Concession_," given for services by a sovereign
prince--such as the _armoiries_ belonging to Jeanne d'Arc.

"_Armoiries de Patronage_," in reality quarterings added to an
_armoirie_ already existing. These were frequently additions to the
blazonings of families or cities. Paris took on the arms of the King of
France, the insistent Louis, by this right.

"_Armoiries de Dignité_," showing the distinction or dignities with
which a person was endowed, and which were added to existing family
arms.

"_Armoiries de Famille_," as their name indicates, distinguishing one
noble family from another. This class was further divided into three
others, "_Substituées_," "_Succession_," or "_Alliance_," terms which
explain themselves.

"_Armoiries de Communauté_," distinctions given to noble chapters of
military bodies, corporations, societies and the like.

Finally there was a class which belonged to warriors alone.

At all times illustrious soldiers adopted a _devise_, or symbol, which
they caused to be painted on their shields. These were only considered
as _armoiries_ when they were inherited by one who had followed in the
footsteps of his ancestors. This usage dates from the end of the ninth
century, and it is from this period that _armoiries_, properly called,
came into being.

[Illustration: Feudal Flags and Banners]

The banners of the feudal sovereigns were, many of them, very splendid
affairs, often bearing all their arms and quarterings. They were borne
wherever their owners went,--in war, to the capital, and at their
country houses. At all ceremonious functions the banners were ever near
the persons of their sovereigns as a sign of suzerainty. The owner of a
banner would often have it cut out of metal and placed on the gables of
his house as a weather-vane, a custom which, in its adapted form, has
endured through the ages to this day. In tournaments, the nobles had
their banners attached to their lances, and made therewith always the
sign of the cross before commencing their passes. Also their banners or
_banderoles_ were hung from the trumpets of the heralds of their house.

Another variety of feudal standard, differing from either the _bannière_
or the _pennon_, was the _gonfanon_. This was borne only by
_bacheliers_, vassals of an overlord.

    "_N'i a riche hom ni baron_
     _Qui n'ait lès lui son gonfanon._"

The feudal banner, the house flag of the feudal seigneurs, and borne by
them in battle, was less splendid than the _bannière royale_, which was
hung from a window balcony to mark a kingly lodging-place. It was in
fact only a small square of stuff hanging from a transversal baton. This
distinguished, in France, a certain grade of knights known as
_chevaliers-bannerets_. These chevaliers had the privilege of exercising
certain rights that other knights did not possess.

To be created _chevalier-banneret_ one had to be twenty-one years of
age. If a chevalier was already a _bachelier_, a grade inferior to that
of a _banneret_, to become a full blown _chevalier_ he had only to cut
the points from his standard--a _pennon_--when it and he became a
_banneret_; that is to say, he had the right to carry a banner, or to
possess a _fief de bannière_.

There were three classes of fiefs in feudal France. First; the _fief de
bannière_, which could furnish twenty-five combatants under a banner or
flag of their own. Second; the _fief de haubert_, which could furnish a
well-mounted horseman fully armed, accompanied by two or three _varlets_
or _valets_. Third; the _fief de simple écuyer_, whose sole offering was
a single vassal, lightly armed.

There was, too, a class of nobles without estates. They were known as
seigneurs of a _fief en l'air_, or a _fief volant_, much like many
courtesy titles so freely handed around to-day in some monarchies.

A vassal was a dweller in a fief under the control of the seigneur. The
word comes from the ancient Frankish _gessell_.

The chevaliers, not the highest of noble ranks, but a fine title of
distinction nevertheless, bore one of four prefixes, _don_, _sire_,
_messire_, or _monseigneur_. They could eat at the same table with the
monarch, and they alone had the right to bear a banner-lance in warfare,
or wear a double coat of mail.

In 1481, Louis XI began to abolish the bow and the lance in France, in
so far as they applied to effective warfare. The first fire-arms had
already appeared a century before, and though the _coulevrines_ and
_canons à main_ were hardly efficient weapons, when compared with those
of to-day, they were far more effective than the bow and arrow at a
distance, or the javelin, the pike and the lance near at hand. Then
developed the _arquebuse_, literally a hand-cannon, clumsy and none too
sure of aim, but a fearful death-dealer if it happened to hit.

The feudal lords, the seigneurs and other nobles, had the right of
levying taxes upon their followers. These taxes, or _impôts_, took
varying forms; such as the obligation to grind their corn at the mills
of the seigneur, paying a heavy proportion of the product therefor; to
press their grapes at his wine-press, and bake their bread in his ovens.
At Montauban, in the Garonne, one of these old seigneurial flour mills
may still be seen. The seigneurs were not ostensibly "in trade," but
their control of the little affairs of the butcher, the baker, and the
candlestick-maker virtually made them so.

More definite taxes--demanded in cash when the peasants could pay,
otherwise in kind--were the seigneurial taxes on fires; on the right of
trade (the sale of wine, bread or meat); the _vingtaine_, whereby the
peasant gave up a twentieth of his produce to the seigneur; and such
oddities as a tax on the first kiss of the newly married; bardage, a
sort of turnpike road duty for the privilege of singing certain songs;
and on all manner of foolish fancies.

After the taxation by the seigneurs there came that by the clerics, who
claimed their "ecclesiastical tenth," a tax which was levied in France
just previous to the Revolution with more severity, even, than in Italy.

Finally the people rose, and the French peasants delivered themselves
all over the land to a riot of evil, as much an unlicensed tyranny as
was the oppression of their feudal lords. One may thus realize the means
which planted feudal France with great fortresses, châteaux and country
houses, and the motives which caused their destruction to so large an
extent.

It was the tyranny of the master and the cruelty of the servant that
finally culminated in the Revolution. Not only the petty seigneurs had
been the oppressors, but the Crown, represented by the figurehead of the
Bourbon king in his capital, put the pressure on the peasant folk still
harder by releasing it on the nobles. The tax on the people, that great,
vague, non-moving mass of the population, has ever produced the greatest
revenue in France, as, presumably, it has elsewhere. In the days before
the Revolution it was _le peuple_ who paid, and it was the people who
paid the enormous Franco-German war indemnity in 1871.

The feudality in France, in its oppressive sense, died long years before
the Revolution, but the aristocracy still lives in spite of the efforts
of the Assembly to crush it--the Assembly and the mob who sang:

    _"Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,_
     _Les aristocrates à la lanterne!_
     _Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,_
     _Les aristocrates on les pendra!"_

And the French noblesse of to-day, the proud old French aristocracy, is
not, on the whole, as bad as it has frequently been painted. They may,
in the majority, be royalists, may be even Bonapartists, or Orléanists,
instead of republicans, but surely there's no harm in that in these days
when certain political parties look upon socialists as anarchists and
free-traders as communists.

The honour, power and profit derived by the noblesse in France all
stopped with the Revolution. The National Assembly, however, refused to
abolish titles. To do that body justice they saw full well that they
could not take away that which did not exist as a tangible entity, and
it is to their credit that they did not establish the new order of
Knights of the Plough as they were petitioned to do. This would have
been as fatal a step as can possibly be conceived, though for that
matter a plough might just as well be a symbol of knighthood as a
thistle, a _jaratelle_, a gold stick or a black rod.

In France a whole _seigneurie_ was slave to the seigneur. Under feudal
rule the clergy (not the humble _abbés_ and _curés_, but the bishops and
archbishops) were frequently themselves overlords. They, at any rate,
enjoyed as high privileges as any in the land, and if the Revolution
benefited the lower clergy it robbed the higher churchmen.

Just previous to the Revolution, the clergy had a revenue of one hundred
and thirty million _livres_ of which only forty-two million five hundred
thousand _livres_ accrued to the _curés_. The difference represents the
loss to the "Seigneurs of the Church."

With the Revolution the whole kingdom was in a blaze; famished mobs
clamoured, if not always for bread, at least for an anticipated
vengeance, and when they didn't actually kill they robbed and burned.
This accounts for the comparative infrequency of the feudal châteaux in
France in anything but a ruined state. Sometimes it is but a square of
wall that remains, sometimes a mere gateway, sometimes a donjon, and
sometimes only a solitary tower. All these evidences are frequent enough
in the provinces of the Pyrenees, from the more or less complete
Châteaux of Foix and of Pau, to the ruins of Lourdes and Lourdat, and
the more fragmentary remains of Ultrera, Ruscino and Coarraze.

The mediæval country house was a château; when it was protected by walls
and moats it became a castle or château-fort; a distinction to be
remarked.

The château of the middle ages was not only the successor of the Roman
stronghold, but it was a villa or place of residence as well; when it
was fortified it was a _chastel_.

A castle might be habitable, and a château might be a species of
stronghold, and thus the mediæval country house might be either one
thing or the other, but still the distinction will always be apparent if
one will only go deeply enough into the history of any particular
structure.

Light and air, which implies frequent windows, have always been
desirable in all habitations of man, and only when the château bore the
aspects of a fortification were window openings omitted. If it was an
island castle, a moat-surrounded château,--as it frequently was in later
Renaissance times,--windows and doors existed in profusion; but if it
were a feudal fortress, such as one most frequently sees in the
Pyrenees, openings at, or near, the ground-level were few and far
between. Such windows as existed were mere narrow slits, like
loop-holes, and the entrance doorway was really a fortified gate or
port, frequently with a portcullis and sometimes with a _pont-levis_.

The origin of the word château (_castrum_, _castellum_, castle) often
served arbitrarily to designate a fortified habitation of a seigneur, or
a citadel which protected a town. One must know something of their
individual histories in order to place them correctly. In the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries, châteaux in France multiplied almost to
infinity, and became habitations in fact.

In reality the middle ages saw two classes of great châteaux go up
almost side by side, the feudal château of the tenth to the fifteenth
centuries, and the frankly residential country houses of the Renaissance
period which came after.

For the real, true history of the feudal châteaux of France, one cannot
do better than follow the hundred and fifty odd pages which
Viollet-le-Duc devoted to the subject in his monumental "_Dictionnaire
Raisonée d'Architecture_."

In the Midi, all the way from the Italian to the Spanish frontiers, are
found the best examples of the feudal châteaux, mere ruins though they
be in many cases. In the extreme north of Normandy, at Les Andelys,
Arques and Falaise, at Pierrefonds and Coucy, these military châteaux
stand prominent too, but mid-France, in the valley of the Loire, in
Touraine especially, is the home of the great Renaissance country house.

The royal châteaux, the city dwellings and the country houses of the
kings have perhaps the most interest for the traveller. Of this class
are Chenonceaux and Amboise, Fontainebleau and St. Germain, and, within
the scope of this book, the paternal château of Henri Quatre at Pau.

It is not alone, however, these royal residences that have the power to
hold one's attention. There are others as great, as beautiful and as
replete with historic events. In this class are the châteaux at Foix, at
Carcassonne, at Lourdes, at Coarraze and a dozen other points in the
Pyrenees, whose architectural splendours are often neglected for the
routine sightseeing sanctioned and demanded by the conventional
tourists.

There are no vestiges of rural habitations in France erected by the
kings of either of the first two races, though it is known that
Chilperic and Clotaire II had residences at Chelles, Compiègne, Nogent,
Villers-Cotterets, and Creil, north of Paris.

The pre-eminent builder of the great fortress châteaux of other days was
Foulques Nerra, and his influence went wide and far. These
establishments were useful and necessary, but they were hardly more than
prison-like strongholds, quite bare of the luxuries which a later
generation came to regard as necessities.

The refinements came in with Louis IX. The artisans and craftsmen became
more and more ingenious and artistic, and the fine tastes and instincts
of the French with respect to architecture soon came to find their equal
expression in furnishings and fitments. Hard, high seats and beds, which
looked as though they had been brought from Rome in Cæsar's time, gave
way to more comfortable chairs and canopied beds, carpets were laid down
where rushes were strewn before, and walls were hung with cloths and
draperies where grim stone and plaster had previously sent a chill down
the backs of lords and ladies. Thus developed the life in French
châteaux from one of simple security and defence, to one of luxurious
ease and appointments.

The sole medium of communication between many of the French provinces,
at least so far as the masses were concerned, was the local _patois_.
All who did not speak it were foreigners, just as are English, Americans
or Germans of to-day. The peoples of the Romance tongue stood in closer
relation, perhaps, than other of the provincials of old, and the men of
the Midi, whether they were Gascons from the valley of the Garonne, or
Provençaux from the Bouches-du-Rhône were against the king and
government as a common enemy.

The feudal lords were a gallant race on the whole; they didn't spend all
their time making war; they played _boules_ and the _jeu-de-paume_, and
held court at their château, where minstrels sang, and knights made
verses for their lady loves, and men and women amused themselves much as
country-house folk do to-day.

The following, extracted from the book of accounts of one of the minor
noblesse of Béarn in the sixteenth century, is intimate and interesting.
The master of this feudal household had a system of bookkeeping which
modern chatelains might adopt with advantage. The items are curiously
disposed.

                                             Francs Sous Deniers

          Pot de vinaigre                             5     0
          Livre de l'huile d'olive                    6     0
          Sac du sel                                 30     0
          Aux pauvre                                 30     0
         {Pour deux laquais et la mulette            18     0
         {Au valet pour boire                         1     0
  En     {À Tarbes pour la couchée de lundi    4     10     0
  Voyage {Un relevé pour la mulette            8      2     6
         {Un fer pour la mulette                      5     0
         {Aux nomads                           1     10     0

Evidently "la mulette" was a very necessary adjunct and required quite
as much as its master.



CHAPTER III

THE PYRENEES--THEIR GEOGRAPHY AND TOPOGRAPHY


One of the great joys of the traveller is the placid contemplation of
his momentary environment. The visitor to Biarritz, Pau, Luchon, Foix or
Carcassonne has ever before his eyes the massive Pyrenean bulwark
between France and Spain; and the mere existence of this natural line of
defence accounts to no small extent for the conditions of life, the
style of building, and even the manners of the men who live within its
shadow.

The Pyrenees have ever formed an undisputed frontier boundary line,
though kingdoms and dukedoms, buried within its fastnesses or lying
snugly enfolded in its gentle valleys, have fluctuated and changed
owners so often that it is difficult for most people to define the
limits of French and Spanish Navarre or the country of the French and
Spanish Basques. It is still more difficult when it comes to locating
the little Pyrenean republic of Andorra, that tiniest of nations, a
little sister of San Marino and Monaco. Some day the histories of these
three miniature European "powers" (sic) should be made into a book. It
would be most interesting reading and a novelty.

Unlike the Alps, the Pyrenees lack a certain impressive grandeur, but
they are more varied in their outline, and form a continuous chain from
the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, while their gently sloping green
valleys smile more sweetly than anything of the kind in Switzerland or
Savoie.

They possess character, of a certain grim kind to be sure, particularly
in their higher passes, and a general air of sterility, which, however,
is less apparent as one descends to lower levels. The very name of
Pyrenees comes probably from the word _biren_, meaning "high pastures,"
so this refutes the belief that they are not abundantly endowed with
this form of nature's wealth.

From east to west the chain of the Pyrenees has a length of four hundred
and fifty kilometres, or, following the détours of the crests of the
Hispano-Français frontier, perhaps six hundred. Between Pau and Huesca
their width, counting from one lowland plain to another, is a trifle
over a hundred and twenty kilometres, the slope being the most rapid on
the northern, or French, side. The Pyrenees are less thickly wooded than
the Savoian Alps, and there is very much less perpetual snow and fewer
glaciers.

In reality they are broken into two distinct parts by the Val d'Aran,
forming the Pyrénées-Orientales and the Pyrénées-Occidentales. Of the
detached mountain masses, the chief is the Canigou, lying almost by the
Mediterranean shore, and a little northward of the main chain. Its
highest peak is the Puigmal (_puig_ or _puy_ being the Languedoçian word
for peak), rising to nearly three thousand metres.

For long the Canigou was supposed to be the loftiest peak of the
Pyrenees, but the Pic du Midi exceeds it by a hundred metres. However,
this well proportioned, isolated mass looks more pretentious than it
really is, standing, as it does, quite away from the main chain. From
its peak Marseilles can be seen--by a Marseillais, who will also fancy
that he can hear the turmoil of the Cannebière and detect the odour of
the saffron in his beloved _bouillabaise_. At any rate one can certainly
see as much of the earth's surface spread out before him here as from
any other spot of which he has recollection.

[Illustration: _The Peaks of the Pyrenees_]

The Pyrénées-Occidentales abound in more numerous and better defined
mountains than the more easterly portion. Here are the famous Monts
Maudits, with the Pic de Nethou, the highest of the Pyrenees (three
thousand four hundred and four metres), with a summit plateau or
belvedere perhaps twenty metres in length by five in width.

The Vignemal (three thousand two hundred and ninety-eight metres) is the
highest peak wholly on French soil and dominates the famous _col_, or
pass, known as the Brèche de Roland.

The Pic du Midi, back of Bigorre, is justly the best known of all the
crests of the Pyrenees. Its height is two thousand eight hundred and
seventy-seven metres, and it is worthy of a special study, and a book
all to itself. The observatory recently established here is one of the
_chefs-d'oeuvre_ of science. The astronomical, climatological and
geographical importance of this prominent peak was already marked out on
the maps of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and its glory has
been often sung in verse by Guillaume Saluste, Sire du Bartas,
gentilhomme Gascon; and by Bernard Palissy, better known as a potter
than as a poet.

[Illustration: _Brèche de Roland_]

Towards the Gulf of Gascony the Pyrenees send out their ramifications in
much gentler slopes than on the Mediterranean side. Forests and pastures
are more profuse and luxuriant, but the peaks are still of granite, as
they mostly are throughout the range. Grouped along the flanks of the
river Bidassoa this section of the chain is known to geographers as the
"Montagnes du pays Basque."

At the foot of these Basque Mountains passes the lowest level route
between France and Spain,--that followed by the railway and the "Route
Internationale, Paris-Madrid."

This easy and commodious passage of the Pyrenees has ever been the
theatre of the chief struggles between the peoples of the Spanish
peninsula and France. At Ronçevaux the rear-guard of the army of
Charlemagne--"his paladins and peers"--were destroyed in 778, and it was
here that the French and Spanish fought in 1794 and 1813.

The French slopes of the Pyrenees belong almost wholly to the basin or
watershed of the Garonne, one of the four great waterways of France, the
other three being the Loire, the Seine and the Rhône. In the upper
valley of the Garonne is the Plateau de Lannemazan. It lies in reality
between the Garonne and the Adour. The Adour on the west and the Tech on
the east, with their tributaries, play an important part in draining off
the waters from the mountain sources, but they are entirely overshadowed
by the Garonne, which, rising in Spain, in the Val d'Aran, flows six
hundred and five kilometres before reaching salt water below Bordeaux,
through its estuary the Gironde. Nearly five hundred kilometres of this
length are navigable, and the economic value of this river to Agen,
Montauban and Toulouse is very great.

Between the Adour and the Gironde lies that weird morass-like region of
the Landes, once peopled only by sheep-herders on stilts and by
charcoal-burners, but now producing a quantity of resin and pine which
is making the whole region prosperous and content.

The source of the Garonne is at an altitude of nearly two thousand
metres, and is virtually a cascade. Another tiny source, known as the
Garonne-Oriental, swells the flood of the parent stream by flowing into
it just below St. Gaudens, the nearest "big town" of France to the
Spanish frontier.

The Ariège is the only really important tributary entering the Garonne
from the region of the Pyrenees. Its length is a hundred and fifty-seven
kilometres, and its source is on the Pic Nègre, at an altitude of two
thousand metres, three kilometres from the frontier, but on French soil.
It waters two important cities of the Comté de Foix, the capital Foix
and Pamiers.

On the west, the chain of the Pyrenees slopes gently down to the great
bight, known so sadly to travellers by sea as the Bay of Biscay. From
the mouth of the Gironde southward it is further designated as the Golfe
de Gascogne. There is no perceptible indentation of the coast line to
indicate this, but its waters bathe the sand dunes of the Landes, the
Basque coasts, and the extreme northeastern boundary of Spain.

The shore-line is straight, uniformly monotonous and inhospitable, the
great waves which roll in from the Atlantic beating up a soapy surf and
long dikes of sand in weird, unlovely contours. For two hundred and
forty kilometres, all along the shore-line of the Gironde and the
Landes, this is applicable, the only relief being the basin of Archachon
(Bordeaux' own special watering-place), the port of Bayonne,--at the
mouth of the Adour,--the delightful rocky picturesqueness immediately
around Biarritz, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz and its harbour, and the estuary
of the Bidassoa, that epoch-making river which, with the crest of the
Pyrenees, marks the Franco-Espagnol frontier.

The French coast line at the easterly termination of the Pyrenees
possesses an entirely different aspect from that of the west.
Practically there is no tide in the Mediterranean, and the gateway
between France and Spain through the eastern Pyrenees is less gracious
than that on the west. The Pyrénées-Orientales come plump down to the
blue waters of the great inland sea just north of Cap Créus with little
or no intimation of a slope.

The frontier commences at Cap Cerbère, and at Port Vendres (the
Portus-Veneris of the ancients) one finds one of the principal
Mediterranean sea ports of France, and the nearest to the great French
possessions in Africa.

On Cap Créus in Spain, and on Cap Bear in France, at an elevation of
something over two hundred metres, are two remarkable lighthouses whose
rays carry a distance of over forty kilometres seaward.

The _étangs_, Saint Nazaire and Leucate, cut the coast line here, and
three tiny rivers, whose sources are high up in the mountain valleys of
the Tech, the Tet and the Aglay, flow into the sea before Cap Leucate,
the boundary between old Languedoc and the Comté de Roussillon.

Off-shore is the tempestuous Golfe des Lions, where the lion banners of
the Arlesien ships floated in days gone by. The Aude, the Orb and the
Hérault mingle their waters with the Mediterranean here, and on the
Montagne d'Agde rises another of those remarkable French lighthouses,
this one throwing its light a matter of forty-five kilometres seawards.

With Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers and Agde behind, one draws slowly out
from under the shadow of the Pyrenees until the soil flattens out into a
powdery, dusty plain, with here and there a pond, or great bay, of soft,
brackish water, whose principal value lies in its fecundity at producing
mosquitoes.

Aigues-Mortes cradles itself on the shores of one of these great inlets
of the Mediterranean, and Saintes Maries on another. Little gulfs,
canals, dwarf seaside pines, cypresses, olive trees and vineyards are
the chief characteristics of the landscape, while inland the surface of
the soil rolls away in gentle billows towards Nîmes, Montpellier and
St. Giles, with the flat plain of the Camargue lying between.

Since the Christian era began, it is assumed that this coast line
between the Pyrenees and the Rhône has advanced a matter of fourteen
kilometres seaward, and since Aigues-Mortes, which now lies far inland,
is known to be the port from which the sainted Louis set out on his
Crusade, there is no gainsaying the statement. The immediate region
surrounding Aigues-Mortes is a most fascinating one to visit, but would
be a terrible place in which to be obliged to spend a life-time.

Between Roussillon and Spain there are fifteen passes by which one may
cross the chain of the Pyrenees, though indeed two only are practicable
for wheeled traffic.

The Col de Perthus is the chief one, and is traversed by the ancient
"Route Royale" from Paris to Barcelona. There is a town by the same
name, with a population of five hundred and a really good hotel. It's
worth making the journey here just to see how a dull French village can
sleep its time away. The passage is defended by the fine Fortress de
Bellegarde. It was on the Col de Perthus that Pompey erected the famous
"trophy," surmounted by his statue bearing the following legend:

  +----------------------------------------+
  | FROM THE ALPS TO THE ULTERIOR EXTREMITY|
  | OF SPAIN, POMPEY HAS FORCED            |
  | SUBMISSION TO THE ROMAN REPUBLIC       |
  | FROM EIGHT HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SIX     |
  | CITIES AND TOWNS.                      |
  +----------------------------------------+

Twenty years after, Caesar erected another tablet beside the former. No
trace of either remains to-day, and there are only frontier boundary
stones marking the territorial limits of France and Spain, which replace
those torn down in the Revolution.

[Illustration]

Proceeding by the coast line, a difficult road into Spain lies by the
Col de Banyuls, just where the Pyrenees plunge beneath the
Mediterranean, a mere shelf of a road.

The _cirques_, or great amphitheatres of mountains, are a characteristic
of the Pyrenees, and the Cirque de Gavarnie is the king of them all. It
represents, very nearly, a sheer perpendicular wall rising to a height
of five hundred metres, and three thousand five hundred metres in
circumference. Perpetual snow is an accompaniment of some of its gorges
and neighbouring peaks, and twelve cascades tumble down its rock walls
at various points. There is nothing quite so impressive in the
world--outside Yosemite or the Yellowstone.

Gavarnie, its _cirque_ and its village, is the natural wonder of the
Pyrenees. Said Victor Hugo: "_Grand nom, petit village._" To explore the
Cirque de Gavarnie is a passion with many; when you get in this state of
mind you become what the touring Frenchman knows as a "_gavarniste_," as
an Alpine climber becomes an "_alpiniste_."

As for the climate of the Pyrenees, it is, for a mountain region, soft
and mild; not so mild as that of the French Riviera perhaps, nor of
Barcelona, nor San Sebastian in Spain, but on the whole not cold, and
certainly more humid than in the Alpes-Maritimes, on the Côte d'Azur.

Generally blowing from the northwest in winter, the wind accumulates
great masses of cloud in the bight of the Golfe de Gascogne and sweeps
them up against the barrier of the Pyrenees, there to be held in
suspension until an exceedingly stiff wind blows them away or the sun
burns them off. The French Riviera is cursed with the mistral, but it
has the blessing of almost continual sunshine, while in the
Pyrénées-Occidentales the wind is less strong as it comes only from the
sea in the northwest, instead of from the north by the Rhône valley, and
the "disagreeable months" (November, December and January) often bring
damp and humid, if not frigidly cold weather with them.

The rainfall is often as much as eight decimetres per annum in the
Landes, one metre in the Pyrenees proper, and a metre and a half in the
Basque country. The average rainfall for France is approximately eight
decimetres, perhaps thirty-two inches.

In the Pyrenees the temperature is, normally, neither very hot nor very
cold. Perpignan is the warmest in winter. Its average is 15° Centigrade
(59° F.), about that of Nice, whilst that for France is 6° Centigrade
(43° F.).

The climate of the Pyrenees comes within the _climat Girondin_, and the
average for the year is 13° Centigrade. The _climat-maritime_ is a
further division, and is considerably more elevated in degree. This
comes from the western and northwestern winds off the sea, which, it may
be remarked, almost invariably bring rain with them. At Montauban the
saying is: "_Montagne claire, Bordeaux obscure, pluie à coup sur._" In
Gascogne: "_Jamais pluie au printemps ne passe pour mauvais temps._" At
Bordeaux the average summer temperature is but 29° Centigrade, at
Toulouse 21.5° Centigrade and Pau about the same, with a winter
temperature often 4° or 5° below zero Centigrade.

The general aspect of the region of the Pyrenees is one of the most
varied and agreeable in all southern France. There is a grandeur and
natural character about it that has not fallen before the march of
twentieth century progress, save in the "resorts," such as Biarritz or
Pau; and yet the primitiveness and savagery is not so uncomfortable as
to make the traveller long for the super-civilization of great capitals.
It is virgin in its beauty and varied wildness, and yet it is a soft,
pleasant land where even the winter snows of the mountains seem less
rigorous than the snow and cold of Savoie or Switzerland. On one side is
the great bulwark of the Pyrenees, and on two others the dazzling waters
of the ocean, while to the north the valley of the Garonne, west of the
Cevennes, is not at all a frigid, austere, frost-bound region, save only
in the very coldest "snaps."

The ranges of foothills in the Pyrenees divide the surface of the land
into slopes and valleys every bit as charming as those of Switzerland,
and yet oh! so different! And the fresh, limpid rivulets and rivers are
real rivers, and not mere trickling brooks, whose colouring and
transparency are the marvel of all who view. The majesty of the sea on
either side, and of the mountains between, makes the very aspect of life
luxurious and less hard than that in the more northerly Alpine climes,
and above all the outlook on life is French, and not that money-grabbing
Anglo-German-Swiss commercialism which the genuine traveller abhors. He
sees less of that sort of thing here in the Pyrenees, even at Pau and
Biarritz, than anywhere else in southern Europe.

At Nice, Monte Carlo, Naples, Capri, along the Italian lakes, and
everywhere in French, German or Italian speaking Switzerland, one must
pay! pay! pay! continually, and often for nothing. Here you pay for what
you get, and then not always its full value, according to standards with
which you have previously become familiar. The Pyrenees form quite the
ideal mountain playground of Europe.

The Basses-Pyrénées, made up from the coherent masses of Navarre, the
Basque country, Béarn, and a part of Chalosse and the Landes, contains a
superficial area of seven hundred and sixty-three thousand nine hundred
and ninety French acres. Its name comes naturally enough from the
western end of the Pyrenean mountain chain.

Throughout, the department is watered by innumerable streams and
rivulets, whose banks and beds are as reminiscent of romanticism as any
waterways extant. The Adour is one of the "picture-rivers" of the world;
it joins the rustling, tumbling Nive, as it rushes down by Cambo from
the Spanish valleys, and forms the port of Bayonne.

The Gave de Pau commences in the high Pyrenees, in the wonderfully
spectacular Cirque de Gavarnie, literally in a cascade falling nearly
one thousand three hundred feet, perhaps the highest cascade known in
the four quarters of the globe, or as the French say, "in the five
parts of the world," which is more quaint if less literal.

The Gave d'Oloron has its birth in the valley of the Aspe, and is a
tributary of the Gave de Pau. It is what one might call pretty, but has
little suggestion of the scenic splendour of the latter.

The Bidassoa is one of the world's historic rivers. It forms the
Atlantic frontier between France and Spain, and was the scene of
Wellington's celebrated "Passage of the Bidassoa" in 1813, also of a
still more famous historical event which took place centuries before on
the Ile des Faisans.

The Nivelle is a tiny stream which comes to light on Spanish soil, over
the crest of the Pyrenees, and flows rapidly down to the sea at
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, on the shores of the Gulf of Gascony.

The Ministry for the Interior in France classes all these chief rivers
as _flottable_ for certain classes of boats and barges through a portion
of their length, and each of them as _navigable_ for a few leagues from
the sea.

Four great "Routes Nationales" cross the Basses-Pyrénées. They are the
legitimate successors of the "Routes Royales" of monarchial days. The
"Route Royale de Paris à Madrid, par Vittoria et Burgos," the very same
over which Charles Quint travelled to Paris, via Amboise, as the guest
of François Premier, passes via Bayonne and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. It is a
veritable historic highway throughout every league of its length.

The climate of the Basses-Pyrénées is by no means as warm as its
latitude would seem to bespeak, the snow-capped Pyrenees keeping the
temperature somewhat low. Pau and Luchon in the interior (as well as
Bayonne and Biarritz on the coast) seem, curiously enough, to be
somewhat milder than the open country between. The Pyrenees, though less
overrun and less exploited than the Alps, are not an unknown world to be
ventured into only by heroes and adventurers. They are what the French
call a "new world" lively in aspect, infinitely varied, and as yet quite
unspoiled, take them as a whole. This is a fact which makes the
historical monuments and souvenirs of the region the more appealing in
interest, particularly to one who has "done" the conventionally overrun
resorts of the Tyrol, Egypt or Norway; and the country here is far more
accessible. Furthermore the comforts of modern travel, as regards palace
hotels and sleeping-cars, if less highly developed, are more to be
remarked. One lives bountifully throughout the whole of the French
slopes of the Pyrenees, from a table well supplied with many exotic
articles of food such as truffles, and _salaisons_ of all sorts, fresh
mountain lake trout, and those delightful _crouchades_ and _cassoulets_,
which in the more populous centres are only occasional, expensive
luxuries.

Both the valleys and the mountains are equally charming and
characteristic. The lowlanders and the mountaineers are two different
species of man, but they both join hands in the admiration of, and
devotion to their beloved country.

The soft, sloping valleys and the plains below, in the great watersheds
of the Garonne, the Aude, the Nive, or the Adour, tell one story, and
the _terre debout_, as the French geographers call the mountains, quite
another. The contrast and juxtaposition of these two topographical
aspects, the varying manners and customs of the peoples, and the
picturesque framing given to the châteaux and historic sites make an
undeniably appealing ensemble which the writer thinks is not equalled
elsewhere in travelled Europe.

One of the chief characteristics of the chain of the Pyrenees is that
it possesses numerous passages or passes at very considerable
elevations, being outranked by surrounding peaks usually to the extent
of a thousand metres only. These passes are not always practicable for
wheeled traffic to be sure, but still they form a series of exits and
entrances from and into Spain which are open to the dwellers in the high
valleys of either country on foot or on donkey back. They are
distinguished by various prefixes such as _puerto_, _collada_, _passo_,
_hourque_, _hourquette_, _brèche_, _port_, _col_, and _passage_, but one
and all answer more or less specifically to the name of a mountain pass.

The expression of "_il y a des Pyrénées_," has been paraphrased in
latter days as "_il n'y a plus de Pyrénées_." A Spanish aeronaut has
recently crossed the crest of the range in a balloon, from Pau to
Grenada--seven hundred and thirty kilometres as the birds fly. This
intrepid sportsman, in his balloon "El Cierzo," crossed the divide in
the dead of night, at an elevation varying between two thousand three
hundred and two thousand nine hundred metres, somewhere between the Pic
d'Anie and the Pic du Midi d'Ossau. In these days when automobiles beat
express trains, and motor-boats beat steamships for speed, this
crossing of the Pyrenees by balloon stands unique in the annals of
sport.

The crossing of the Pyrenees has already resolved itself into a
momentous economic question. Half a dozen roads fit for carriage
traffic, and two gateways by which pass the railways of the east and
west coasts, are the sole practicable means of communication between
France and Spain.

The chain of the Pyrenees from west to east presents nearly a uniform
height; its simplicity and uniformity is remarkable. It is a veritable
wall.

To-day the Parisian journals are all printing scare-heads, reading,
"_Plus de Pyrénées_" and announcing railway projects which will bring
Paris and Madrid within twenty hours of each other, and Paris and
Algiers within forty. New tunnels, or _ports_, to the extent of five in
place of two, are to be opened, and if balloons or air-ships don't come
to supersede railways there will be a net-work of iron rails throughout
the upper valleys of the Pyrenees as there are in Switzerland.

The _ville d'eaux_, or watering-places, of the Pyrenees date from
prehistoric times. At Ax-les-Thermes there has recently been discovered
a tank buried under three metres of alluvial soil, and dating from the
bronze age.

Old maps of these parts show that the baths and waters of the region
were widely known in mediæval times. It was not, however, until the
reign of Louis XV that the "stations" took on that popular development
brought about by the sovereigns and their courts who frequented them.

[Illustration: _The Five Proposed Railways_]

Not all of these can be indicated or described here but the accompanying
map indicates them and their locations plainly enough.

[Illustration]

Nearly every malady, real or imaginary (and there have been many
imaginary ones here, that have undergone a cure), can be benefited by
the waters of the Pyrenees. Only a specialist could prescribe though.

In point of popularity as resorts the baths and springs of the Pyrenees
rank about as follows: Eaux-Bonnes, Eaux-Chaudes, Cauterets, St.
Sauveur, Barèges, Bagnères de Bigorre, Luchon, Salies de Béarn, Ussat,
Ax-les-Thermes, Vernet and Amélie les Bains.

Whatever the efficacy of their waters may be, one and all may be classed
as resorts where "all the attractions"--as the posters announce--of
similar places elsewhere may be found,--great and expensive hotels, tea
shops, theatres, golf, tennis and "the game." If the waters don't cure,
one is sure to have been amused, if not edified. The watering-places of
the Pyrenees may not possess establishments or bath houses as grand or
notorious as those of Vichy, Aix, or Homburg, and their attendant
amusements of sport and high stakes and cards may not be the chief
reason they are patronized, but all the same they are very popular
little resorts, with as charming settings and delightful surroundings as
any known.

At Eaux-Bonnes there are four famous springs, and at Eaux-Chaudes are
six of diverse temperatures, all of them exceedingly efficacious
"cures" for rheumatism. At Cambo--a new-found retreat for French
painters and literary folk--are two _sources_, one sulphurous and the
other ferruginous. Mostly the waters of Cambo are drunk; for bathing
purposes they are always heated. Napoleon first set the pace at Cambo,
but its fame was a long while becoming widespread. In 1808 the emperor
proposed to erect a military hospital here, and one hundred and fifty
thousand francs were actually appropriated for it, but the fall of the
Empire ended that hope as it did many others. In the commune of Salies
is a _source_, a _fontaine_, which gives a considerable supply of salt
to be obtained through evaporation; also in the mountains neighbouring
upon Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and in the Arrondissement of Mauléon, are
still other springs from which the extraction of salt is a profitable
industry.

In the borders of the blue Gave de Pau, in full view of the extended
horizon on one side and the lowland plain on the other, one appreciates
the characteristics of the Pyrenees at their very best.

One recalls the gentle hills and vales of the Ile de France, the rude,
granite slopes of Bretagne, the sublime peaks of the Savoian Alps, and
all the rest of the topographic tableau of "la belle France," but
nothing seen before--nor to be seen later--excels the Pyrenees region
for infinite variety. It is truly remarkable, from the grandeur of its
sky-line to the winsomeness and softness of its valleys, peopled
everywhere (always excepting the alien importations of the resorts) with
a reminiscent civilization of the past, with little or no care for the
super-refinements of more populous and progressive regions. The
Pyrenees, as a whole, are still unspoiled for the serious-minded
traveller. This is more than can be said of the Swiss Alps, the French
Riviera, the German Rhine, or the byways of merry England.



CHAPTER IV

THE PYRENEES--THEIR HISTORY AND PEOPLES


It may be a question as to who discovered the Pyrenees, but Louis XIV
was the first exploiter thereof--writing in a literal sense--when he
made the famous remark "_Il y a des Pyrénées_." Before that, and to a
certain extent even to-day, they may well be called the "_Pyrénées
inconnues_," a _terra incognita_, as the old maps marked the great
desert wastes of mid-Africa. The population of the entire region known
as the Pyrénées Françaises is as varied as any conglomerate population
to be found elsewhere in France in an area of something less than six
hundred kilometres.

The Pyrenees were ever a frontier battle-ground. At the commencement of
the eleventh century things began to shape themselves north of the
mountain chain, and modern France, through the _féodalité_, began to
grow into a well-defined entity.

Charles Martel it was, as much as any other, who made all this possible,
and indeed he began it when he broke the Saracen power which had
over-run all Spain and penetrated via the Pyrenean gateways into Gaul.

The Iberians who flooded southern Gaul, and even went so far afield as
Ireland, came from the southwestern peninsula through the passes of the
Pyrenees. They were of a southern race, in marked distinction to the
Franks and Gauls. Settling south of the Garonne they became known in
succeeding generations as Aquitains and spoke a local _patois_,
different even from that of the Basques whom they somewhat resembled.
The Vascons, or Gascons, were descendants of this same race, though
perhaps developed through a mixture of other races.

Amidst the succession of diverse dominations, one race alone came
through the mill whole, unscathed and independent. These were the
Basques who occupied that region best defined to-day as lying around
either side of the extreme western frontier of France and Spain.

A French savant's opinion of the status of this unique province and its
people tells the story better than any improvisation that can be made. A
certain M. Garat wrote in the mid-nineteenth century as follows:--

[Illustration: _The Basques of the Mountains_]

"Well sheltered in the gorges of the Pyrenees, where the Gauls, the
Francs and the Saracens had never attacked their liberties, the Basques
have escaped any profound judgments of that race of historians and
philosophers which have dissected most of the other peoples of Europe.
Rome even dared not attempt to throttle the Basques and merge them into
her absorbing civilization. All around them their neighbours have
changed twenty times their speech, their customs and their laws, but the
Basques still show their original characters and physiognomies, scarcely
dimmed by the progress of the ages."

Certainly they are as proud and noble a race as one remarks in a round
of European travel.

A Basque will always tell you if you ask him as to whether he is French
or Spanish: "_Je ne suis pas Français, je suis Basque; je ne suis
Espagnol, je suis Basque; ou,--tout simplement, je suis homme._"

This is as one would expect to find it, but it is possible to come
across an alien even in the country of the Basque. On interrogating a
smiling peasant driving a yoke of cream-coloured oxen, he replied:
"_Mais je ne suis pas Basque; je suis Périgourdin_--born at Badefols,
just by the old château of Bertrand de Born the troubadour."

One may be pardoned for a reference to the _cagots_ of the Basque
country, a despised race of people not unlike the cretins of the Alps.
As Littré defines them they are distinctly a "people of the Pyrenees."
The race, as a numerous body, practically is extinct to-day. They lived
in poor, mean cabins, far from the towns and under the protection of a
seigneurial château or abbey. All intercourse with their neighbours was
forbidden, and at church they occupied a space apart, had a special holy
water font, and when served with blessed bread it was thrown at them as
if they were dogs, and not offered graciously.

This may have been uncharitable and unchristianlike, but the placing of
separate holy water-basins in the churches was simply carrying out the
principle of no intercourse between the Basques and the _cagots_, not
even between those who had become, or professed to be Christians. "The
loyal hand of a Basque should touch nothing that had previously been
touched by a _cagot_."

From the Basque country, through the heart of the Pyrenees, circling
Béarn, Navarre and Foix, to Roussillon is a far cry, and a vast change
in speech and manners.

Life in a Pyrenean village for a round of the seasons would probably
cure most of the ills that flesh is heir to. It may be doubtful as to
who was the real inventor of the simple life--unless it was Adam--but
Jean Jacques Rousseau was astonished that people did not live more in
the open air as a remedy against the too liberal taking of medicine.

"_Gouter la liberté sur la montagne immense!_" This was the dream of the
poet, but it may become the reality of any who choose to try it. One
remarks a certain indifference among the mountaineers of the Pyrenees
for the conventions of life.

The mountaineer of the Pyrenees would rather ride a donkey than a pure
bred Arab or drive an automobile. He has no use for the proverb:--

    "Honourable is the riding of a horse to the rider,
     But the mule is a dishonour and a donkey a disgrace."

When one recalls the fact that there are comparatively few of the bovine
race in the south of France, more particularly in Languedoc and
Provence, he understands why it is that one finds the _cuisine à l'huile
d'olive_--and sometimes _huile d'arachide_, which is made from peanuts,
and not bad at that, at least not unhealthful.

In the Pyrenees proper, where the pasturage is rich, cattle are more
numerous, and nowhere, not even in the Allier or Poitou in mid-France,
will one find finer cows or oxen. Little, sure-footed donkeys, with
white-gray muzzles and crosses down their backs, and great
cream-coloured oxen seem to do all the work that elsewhere is done by
horses. There are ponies, too,--short-haired, tiny beasts,--in the
Pyrenees, and in the summer months one sees a Basque or a Béarnais
horse-dealer driving his live stock (ponies only) on the hoof all over
France, and making sales by the way.

The Mediterranean terminus of the Pyrenees has quite different
characteristics from that of the west. Here the mountains end in a great
promontory which plunges precipitately into the Mediterranean between
the Spanish province of Figueras and the rich garden-spot of Roussillon,
in France.

[Illustration: _In a Pyrenean Hermitage_]

French and Spanish manners, customs and speech are here much
intermingled. On one side of the frontier they are very like those on
the other; only the uniforms of the officialdom made up of _douaniers_,
_carabineros_, _gendarmes_ and soldiers differ. The type of face and
figure is the same; the usual speech is the same; and dress varies but
little, if at all. "_Voilà! la fraternité Franco-Espagnole_".

One ever-present reminder of two alien peoples throughout all Roussillon
is the presence of the _châteaux-forts_, the walled towns, the
watch-towers, and defences of this mountain frontier.

The chief characteristics of Roussillon, from the seacoast plain up the
mountain valleys to the passes, are the château ruins, towers and
moss-grown hermitages, all relics of a day of vigorous, able workmen,
who built, if not for eternity, at least for centuries. In the
Pyrénées-Orientales alone there are reckoned thirty-five abandoned
hermitages, any one of which will awaken memories in the mind of a
romantic novelist which will supply him with more background material
than he can use up in a dozen mediæval romances. And if he takes one or
more of these hallowed spots of the Pyrenees for a setting he will have
something quite as worthy as the overdone Italian hilltop hermitage, and
a good deal fresher in a colour sense.

The strategic Pyrenean frontier, nearly six hundred kilometres,
following the various twistings and turnings, has not varied in any
particular since the treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. From Cap Cerbère on
the Mediterranean it runs, via the crests of the Monts Albères, up to
Perthus, and then by the crests of the Pyrénées-Orientales, properly
called, up to Puigmal; and traversing the Sègre, crosses the Col de la
Perche and passes the Pic Nègre, separating France from the Val
d'Andorre, crosses the Garonne to attain the peaks of the
Pyrénées-Occidentales, and so, via the Forêt d'Iraty, and through the
Pays Basque, finally comes to the banks of the Bidassoa, between Hendaye
and Irun-Feuntarrabia.

The Treaty of Verdun gave the territory of France as extending up to the
Pyrenees _and beyond_ (to include the Comté de Barcelone), but this
limit in time was rearranged to stop at the mountain barrier. The graft
didn't work! Roussillon remained for long in the possession of the house
of Aragon, and its people were, in the main, closely related with the
Catalans over the border, but the Treaty of the Pyrenees, in 1659,
definitely acquired this fine wine-growing province for the French.

The frontier of the Pyrenees is much better defended by natural means
than that of the Alps. For four hundred kilometres of its length--quite
two-thirds of its entirety--the passages and breaches are inaccessible
to an army, or even to a carriage.

From the times of Hannibal and Charlemagne up to the wars of the Empire
only the extremities have been crossed for the invasion of alien
territory. It is in these situations that one finds the frontier
fortresses of to-day; at Figueras and Gerone in Spain; in France at
Bellegarde (Col de Perthus), Prats-de-Mollo, Mont Louis, Villefranche
and Perpignan, in the east; and at Portalet, Navarrino,
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (guarding the Col de Ronçevaux) and Bayonne in
the west. Bayonne and Perpignan guard the only easily practicable routes
(Paris-Madrid and Paris-Barcelona).

Hannibal and Charlemagne are the two great names of early history
identified with the Pyrenees. Hannibal exploited more than one popular
scenic touring ground of to-day, and for a man who is judged only by his
deeds--not by his personality, for no authentic portrait of him exists,
even in words--he certainly was endowed with a profound foresight.
Charlemagne, warrior, lawgiver and patron of letters, predominant figure
of a gloomy age, met the greatest defeat of his career in the Pyrenees,
at Ronçevaux, when he advanced on Spain in 778.

Close by the Cap Cerbère, where French and Spanish territory join, is
the little town and pass of Banyuls. This Col de Banyuls was, in 1793,
the witness of a supreme act of patriotism. The Spaniards were biding
their time to invade France via Roussillon, and made overtures to the
people of the little village of Banyuls--famous to-day for its _vins de
liqueur_ and not much else, but at that time numbering less than a
thousand souls--to join them and make the road easy. The _procureur du
roi_ replied simply: "_Les habitants de Banyuls étant français devaient
tous mourir pour l'honneur et l'indépendance de la France_."

Three thousand Spaniards thereupon attacked the entire forces of the
little commune--men, women and children--but finding their efforts
futile were forced to retire. This ended the "Battle of Banyuls," one of
the "little wars" that historians have usually neglected, or overlooked,
in favour of something more spectacular.

On the old "Route Royale" from Paris to Barcelona, via Perpignan, are
two chefs-d'oeuvre of the mediæval bridge-builder, made before the
days of steel rails and wire ropes and all their attendant ugliness.
These are the Pont de Perpignan over the Basse, and the Pont de Céret on
the Tech, each of them spanning the stream by one single, graceful arch.
The latter dates from 1336, and it is doubtful if the modern stone-mason
could do his work as well as he who was responsible for this
architectural treasure.

One finds a bit of superstitious ignorance once and again, even in
enlightened France of to-day. It was not far from here, on the road to
the Col de Banyuls, that we were asked by a peasant from what country we
came. He was told by way of a joke that we were Chinese. "_Est-ce
loin?_" he asked. "_Deux cents lieues!_" "_Diable! c'est une bonne
distance!_" One suspects that he knew more than he was given credit for,
and perhaps it was he that was doing the joking, for he said by way of
parting: "_Ma foi, c'est bien triste d'être si loin de votre mère._"

What a little land of contrasts the region of the Pyrenees is! It is all
things to all men. From the low-lying valleys and sea-coast plains, as
one ascends into the upper regions, it is as if one went at once into
another country. Certainly no greater contrast is marked in all France
than that between the Hautes-Pyrénées and the Landes for instance.

The Hautes-Pyrénées of to-day was formerly made up of Bigorre, Armagnac
and the extreme southerly portion of Gascogne. Cæsar called the people
Tarbelli, Bigerriones and Flussates, and Visigoths, Franks and Gascons
prevailed over their destinies in turn.

In the early feudal epoch Bigorre, "the country of the four valleys,"
had its own counts, but was united with Béarn in 1252, becoming a part
of the patrimony which Henri Quatre brought ultimately to the crown of
France.

Antiquities before the middle ages are rare in these parts, in spite of
the memories remaining from Roman times. Perhaps the greatest of these
are the baths and springs at Cauterets, one of them being known as the
Bains des Espagnoles and the other as the Bains de Cesar. These
unquestionably were developed in Roman times.

The chief architectural glory of the region is the ancient city of St.
Bertrand, the capital of Comminges, the ancient _Lugdunum Convenarum_ of
Strabon and Pliny. Its fortifications and its remarkable cathedral place
it in the ranks with Carcassonne, Aigues-Mortes and Béziers.

[Illustration: _A Mountaineer of the Pyrenees_]

The manners and customs of the Bigordans of the towns (not to be
confounded with the Bigoudens of Brittany) have succumbed somewhat to
the importation of outside ideas by the masses who throng their baths
and springs, but nevertheless their main characteristics stand out
plainly.

Quite different from the Béarnais are the Bigordans, and, somewhat
uncharitably, the latter have a proverb which given in their own tongue
is as follows:--"_Béarnès faus et courtès._" Neighbourly jealousy
accounts for this. The Béarnais are morose, steady and commercial, the
Bigordans lively, bright and active, and their sociability is famed
afar.

In the open country throughout the Pyrenees, there are three classes of
inhabitants, those of the mountains and high valleys, those of the
slopes, and those of the plains. The first are hard-working and active,
but often ignorant and superstitious; the second are more gay, less
frugal and better livers than the mountaineers; and those of the plains
are often downright lazy and indolent. The mendicant race, of which old
writers told, has apparently disappeared. There are practically no
beggars in France except gypsies, and there is no mistaking a gypsy for
any other species.

In general one can say that the inhabitants of the high Pyrenees are a
simple, good and generous people, and far less given to excess than many
others of the heterogeneous mass which make up the population of modern
France.

Simple and commodious and made of the wool of the country are the
general characteristics of the costumes of these parts, as indeed they
are of most mountain regions. But the distinctive feature, with the men
as with the women, is the topknot coiffure. In the plains, the men wear
the pancake-like _béret_, and in the high valleys a sort of a woollen
bonnet--something like a Phrygian cap. With the women it is a sort of a
hood of red woollen stuff, black-bordered and exceedingly picturesque.
"_C'est un joli cadre pour le visage d'une jolie femme_," said a fat
commercial traveller, with an eye for pretty women, whom the writer met
at a Tarbes table d'hôte.

A writer of another century, presumably untravelled, in describing the
folk of the Pyrenees remarked: "The Highlanders of the Pyrenees put one
in mind of Scotland; they have round, flat caps and loose breeches."
Never mind the breeches, but the _béret_ of the Basque is no more like
the tam-o'-shanter of the Scot than is an anchovy like a herring.

An English traveller once remarked on the peculiar manner of transport
in these parts in emphatic fashion. "With more sense than John Bull, the
Pyrenean carter knows how to build and load his wagon to the best
advantage," he said. He referred to the great carts for transporting
wine casks and barrels, built with the hind wheels much higher than the
front ones. It's a simple mechanical exposition of the principle that a
wagon so built goes up-hill much easier.

Here in the Hautes-Pyrénées they speak the speech of Languedoc, with
variations, idioms and bizarre interpolations, which may be Spanish, but
sound like Arabic. At any rate it's a beautiful, lisping _patois_, not
at all like the speech of Paris, "twanged through the nose," as the men
of the Midi said of it when they went up to the capital in Revolutionary
times "to help capture the king's castle."

The great literary light of the region was Despourrins, a poet of the
eighteenth century, whose verses have found a permanent place in French
literature, and whose rhymes were chanted as were those of the
troubadours of centuries before.

To just how great an extent the _patois_ differs from the French tongue
the following verse of Despourrins will show:--

          "Aci, debat aqueste peyre,
    Repaüse lou plus gran de touts lou médecis,
         Qui de poü d'està chens besis,
         En a remplit lou cimetyre.

         "Ici, sous cette pierre,
    Repose le plus grand de tous les médicins,
         Qui de peur d'être sans voisins
         En a rempli le cimetière."

A humourist also was this great poet!

Throughout the Pyrenean provinces, and along the shores of the
Mediterranean, from Catalonia to the Bouches-du-Rhône are found the
Gitanos, or the French Gypsies, who do not differ greatly from others of
their tribe wherever found. This perhaps is accounted for by the fact
that the shrines of their patron saint--Sara, the servant of the "Three
Maries" exiled from Judea, and who settled at Les Saintes
Maries-de-la-Mer--was located near the mouth of the Rhône. This same
shrine is a place of pilgrimage for the gypsies of all the world, and on
the twenty-fourth of May one may see sights here such as can be
equalled nowhere else. Not many travellers' itineraries have ever
included a visit to this humble and lonesome little fishing village of
the Bouches-du-Rhône, judging from the infrequency with which one meets
written accounts.

Gypsy bands are numerous all through the Départements of the south of
France, especially in Hérault and the Pyrénées-Orientales. Like most of
their kind they are usually horse-traders, and perhaps horse-stealers,
for their ideas of honesty and probity are not those of other men. They
sometimes practise as sort of quack horse-doctors and horse and dog
clippers, etc., and the women either make baskets, or, more frequently,
simply beg, or "_tire les cartes_" and tell fortunes. They sing and
dance and do many other things honest and dishonest to make a
livelihood. Their world's belongings are few and their wants are not
great. For the most part their possessions consist only of their
personal belongings, a horse, a donkey or a mule, their caravan, or
_roulotte_, and a gold or silver chain or two, ear-rings in their ears,
and a knife--of course a knife, for the vagabond gypsy doesn't fight
with fire-arms.

The further one goes into the French valleys of the Pyrenees the more
one sees the real Gitanos of Spain, or at least of Spanish ancestry.
Like all gypsy folk, they have no fixed abode, but roam and roam and
roam, though never far away from their accustomed haunts. They multiply,
but are seldom cross-bred out of their race.

It's an idyllic life that the Gitano and the Romany-Chiel leads, or at
least the poet would have us think so.

    "Upon the road to Romany
     It's stay, friend, stay!
     There's lots o' love and lots o' time
       To linger on the way;
     Poppies for the twilight,
       Roses for the noon,
     It's happy goes as lucky goes
     To Romany in June."

But as the Frenchman puts it, "look to the other side of the coin."

Brigandage is the original profession of the gypsy, though to-day the
only stealing which they do is done stealthily, and not in the plain
hold-up fashion. They profess a profound regard for the Catholic
religion, but they practise other rites in secret, and form what one
versed in French Catholicism would call a "_culte particulière_." It is
known that they baptize their newly-born children _as often as
possible_--of course each time in a different place--in order that they
may solicit alms in each case. Down-right begging is forbidden in
France, but for such a purpose the law is lenient.

[Illustration: _Gitanos from Spain_]

They are gross feeders, the Gitanos, and a fowl "a little high" has no
terrors for them; they have even been known to eat sea-gulls, which no
white man has ever had the temerity to taste. It has been said that they
will eat cats and dogs and even rats, but this is doubtless another
version of the Chinese fable. At any rate a mere heating of their viands
in a saucepan--not by any stretch of the imagination can it be called
cooking--is enough for them, and what their dishes lack in cooking is
made up by liberal additions of salt, pepper, _piment_ (which is tobacco
or something like it), and saffron.

As to type, the French Gitanos are of that olive-brown complexion, with
the glossy black hair, usually associated with the stage gypsy, rather
small in stature, but well set up, strong and robust, fine eyes and
features and, with respect to the young women and girls (who marry
young), often of an astonishing beauty. In the course of a very few
years the beauty of the women pales considerably, owing, no doubt, to
their hard life, but among the men their fine physique and lively
emotional features endure until well past the half-century.

The gypsies are supposedly a joyful, amiable race; sometimes they are
and sometimes they are not; but looking at them all round it is not
difficult to apply the verses of Béranger, beginning:

    "Sorciers, bateleurs ou filous
        Reste immonde
     D'un ancien monde
     Gais Bohémiens, d'où venez-vous."

One other class of residents in the Pyrenees must be mentioned here, and
that is the family of Ursus and their descendants.

The bears of the Pyrenees are of two sorts; the dignified _Ours des
Pyrénées_ is a versatile and accomplished creature. Sometimes he is a
carnivorous beast, and sometimes he is a vegetarian pure and simple--one
of the kind which will not even eat eggs. The latter species is more
mischievous than his terrible brother, for he forages stealthily in the
night and eats wheat, buckwheat, maize, and any other breakfast-food,
prepared or semi-prepared, he finds handy.

The carnivorous breed wage war against cattle and sheep, or did when
they were more numerous, so that all live stock were obliged to be
enclosed at night. Curiously enough, both species are fattest in winter,
when conditions of life are supposed to be the hardest. There are
wolves, too, in the Pyrenees, but they are not frequently met with. A
bear will not attack a wolf, but a number of wolves together will attack
a bear.



CHAPTER V

ROUSSILLON AND THE CATALANS

[Illustration: map of ROUSSILLON]


Roussillon is a curious province. "Roussillon is a bow with two
strings," say the inhabitants. The workers in the vineyards of other
days are becoming fishermen, and the fishermen are becoming vineyard
workers. The arts of Neptune and the wiles of Bacchus have however
conspired to give a prosperity to Roussillon which many more celebrated
provinces lack.

The Roussillon of other days, a feudal power in its time, with its
counts and nobles, has become but a Département of latter-day France.
The first historical epochs of Roussillon are but obscurely outlined,
but they began when Hannibal freed the Pyrenees in 536, and in time the
Romans became masters here, as elsewhere in Gaul.

Then there came three hundred years of Visigoth rule, which brought the
Saracens, and, in 760, Pepin claimed Roussillon for France. Then began
the domination of the counts. First they were but delegates of the king,
but in time they usurped royal authority and became rulers in their own
right.

Roussillon had its own particular counts, but in a way they bowed down
to the king of Aragon, though indeed the kings of France up to Louis IX
considered themselves suzerains. By the Treaty of Corbeil Louis IX
renounced this fief in 1258 to his brother king of Aragon. At the death
of James I of Aragon his states were divided among his children, and
Roussillon came to the kings of Majorca. Wars within and without now
caused an era of bloodshed. Jean II, attacked by the men of Navarre and
of Catalonia, demanded aid of Louis XI, who sent seven hundred lances
and men, and three hundred thousand gold crown pieces, which latter the
men of Roussillon were obliged to repay when the war was over. Jean II,
Comte de Roussillon, hedged and demanded delay, and in due course was
obliged to pawn his countship as security. This the Roussillonnais
resented and revolt followed, when Louis XI without more ado went up
against Perpignan and besieged it on two occasions before he could
collect the sum total of his bill.

Charles VIII, returning from his Italian travels, in a generous frame of
mind, gave back the province to the king of Aragon without demanding
anything in return. Ferdinand of Aragon became in time king of Spain, by
his marriage with Isabella, and Roussillon came again directly under
Spanish domination.

Meantime the geographical position of Roussillon was such that it must
either become a part of France or a buffer-state, or duelling ground,
where both races might fight out their quarrels. Neither François I nor
Louis XIII thought of anything but to acquire the province for France,
and so it became a battle-ground where a continuous campaign went on for
years, until, in fact, the Grand Condé, after many engagements, finally
entered Perpignan and brought about the famous Treaty of the Pyrenees,
signed on the Ile des Faisans at the other extremity of the great
frontier mountain chain.

The antique monuments of Roussillon are not many; principally they are
the Roman baths at Arles-sur-Tech, the tomb of Constant, son of
Constantine, at Elne, and an old Mohammedan or Moorish mosque,
afterwards serving as a Christian church, at Planes. The ancient city of
Ruscino, the chief Roman settlement, has practically disappeared, a
tower, called the Tor de Castel-Rossello, only remaining.

Impetuosity of manner, freedom in their social relations, and a certain
egotism have ever been the distinctive traits of the Roussillonnais. It
was so in the olden times, and the traveller of to-day will have no
difficulty in finding the same qualities. Pierre de Marca first
discovered, and wrote of these traits in 1655, and his observations
still hold good.

Long contact with Spain and Catalonia has naturally left its impress on
Roussillon, both with respect to men and manners. The Spanish tone is
disappearing in the towns, but in the open country it is as marked as
ever. There one finds bull-fights, cock-fights, and wild, abandoned
dancing, not to say guitar twanging, and incessant cigarette rolling and
smoking, and all sorts of moral contradictions--albeit there is no
very immoral sentiment or motive. These things are observed alike of the
Roussillonnais and the Catalonians, just over the border.

[Illustration: _Catalans of Roussillon_]

The bull-fight is the chief joy and pride of the people. The labourer
will leave his fields, the merchant his shop, and the craftsman his
atelier to make one of an audience in the arena. Not in Spain itself, at
Barcelona, Bilboa, Seville or Madrid is a bull-fight throng more
critical or insistent than at Perpignan.

He loves immensely well to dance, too, the Roussillonnais, and he often
carries it to excess. It is his national amusement, as is that of the
Italian the singing of serenades beneath your window. On all great gala
occasions throughout Roussillon a place is set apart for dancing,
usually on the bare or paved ground in the open air, not only in the
country villages but in the towns and cities as well.

The dances are most original. Ordinarily the men will dance by
themselves, a species of muscular activity which they call "_lo batl_."
A _contrepas_ finally brings in a mixture of women, the whole forming a
mélange of all the gyrations of a dervish, the swirls of the Spanish
dancing girl and the quicksteps of a Virginia reel.

The music of these dances is equally bizarre. A flute called _lo
flaviol_, a _tamborin_, a _hautboy_, _prima_ and _tenor_, and a
_cornemeuse_, or _borrassa_, usually compose the orchestra, and the
music is more agreeable than might be supposed.

In Roussillon the religious fêtes and ceremonies are conducted in much
the flowery, ostentatious manner that they are in Spain, and not at all
after the manner of the simple, devout fêtes and _pardons_ of Bretagne.
The Fête de Jeudi-Saint, and the Fête-Dieu in Roussillon are gorgeous
indeed; sanctuaries become as theatres and tapers and incense and gay
vestments and chants make the pageants as much pagan as they are
Christian.

The coiffure of the women of Roussillon is a handkerchief hanging as a
veil on the back of the head, and fastened by the ends beneath the chin,
with a knot of black ribbon at each temple.

[Illustration: _The Women of Roussillon_]

Their waist line is tightly drawn, and their bodice is usually laced
down the front like those of the German or Tyrolean peasant maid. A
short skirt, in ample and multifarious pleats, and coloured stockings
finish off a costume as _unlike_ anything else seen in France as it
is _like_ those of Catalonia in Spain.

The great Spanish cloak, or _capuchon_, is also an indispensable article
of dress for the men as well as for the women.

The men wear a tall, red, liberty-cap sort of a bonnet, its top-knot
hanging down to the shoulder--always to the left. A short vest and wide
bodied pantaloons, joined together with yards of red sash, wound many
times tightly around the waist, complete the men's costume, all except
their shoes, which are of a special variety known as _spardilles_, or
_espadrilles_, another Spanish affectation.

The speech of Roussillon used to be Catalan, and now of course it is
French; but in the country the older generations are apt to know much
Catalan-Spanish and little French.

Just what variety of speech the Catalan tongue was has ever been a
discussion with the word makers. It was not Spanish exactly as known
to-day, and has been called _roman vulgaire_, _rustique_, and
_provincial_, and many of its words and phrases are supposed to have
come down from the barbarians or the Arabs.

In 1371 the Catalan tongue already had a poetic art, a dictionary of
rhymes, and a grammar, and many inscriptions on ancient monuments in
these parts (eighth, ninth and tenth centuries) were in that tongue. In
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Catalan tongue possessed a
written civil and maritime law, thus showing it was no bastard.

A fatality pursued everything Catalan however; its speech became
Spanish, and its nationality was swallowed up in that of Castille. At
any rate, as the saying goes in Roussillon,--and no one will dispute
it,--"one must be a Catalan to understand Catalan."

The Pays-de-Fenouillet, of which St. Paul was the former capital, lies
in the valley of the Agly. Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet is the present
commercial capital of the region, if the title of commercial capital can
be appropriately bestowed upon a small town of two thousand inhabitants.
The old province, however, was swallowed up by Roussillon, which in turn
has become the Département of the Pyrénées-Orientales.

The feudality of these parts centred around the Château de Fenouillet,
now a miserable ruin on the road to Carcassonne, a few kilometres
distant. There are some ruined, but still traceable, city walls at
Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet, but nothing else to suggest its one-time
importance, save its fourteenth-century church, and the great tower of
its ancient chapter-house.

Nearer Perpignan is Latour-de-France, the frontier town before Richelieu
was able to annex Roussillon to his master's crown.

Latour-de-France also has the débris of a château to suggest its former
greatness, but its small population of perhaps twelve hundred persons
think only of the culture of the vine and the olive and have little
fancy for historical monuments.

Here, and at Estagel, on the Perpignan road, the Catalan tongue is still
to be heard in all its silvery picturesqueness.

Estagel is what the French call "_une jolie petite ville_;" it has that
wonderful background of the Pyrenees, a frame of olive-orchards and
vineyards, two thousand inhabitants, the Hotel Gary, a most excellent,
though unpretentious, little hotel, and the birthplace of François Arago
as its chief sight. Besides this, it has a fine old city gate and a
great clock-tower which is a reminder of the Belfry of Bruges. The wines
of the neighbourhood, the _macabeu_ and the _malvoisie_ are famous.

North of Estagel, manners and customs and the _patois_ change.
Everything becomes Languedocian. In France the creation of the modern
departments, replacing the ancient provinces, has not levelled or
changed ethnological distinctions in the least.

The low-lying, but rude, crests of the Corbières cut out the view
northward from the valley of the Agly. The whole region roundabout is
strewn with memories of feudal times, a château here, a tower there, but
nothing of great note. The Château de Queribus, or all that is left of
it, a great octagonal thirteenth-century donjon, still guards the route
toward Limoux and Carcassonne, at a height of nearly seven hundred
metres. In the old days this route formed a way in and out of
Roussillon, but now it has grown into disuse.

Cucugnan is only found on the maps of the Etat-Major, in the Post-Office
Guide, and in Daudet's "Lettres de Mon Moulin." We ourselves merely
recognized it as a familiar name. The "Curé de Cucugnan" was one of
Daudet's heroes, and belonged to these parts. The Provençal literary
folks have claimed him to be of Avignon; though it is hard to see why
when Daudet specifically wrote C-u-c-u-g-n-a-n. Nevertheless, even if
they did object to Daudet's slander of Tarascon, the Provençaux are
willing enough to appropriate all he did as belonging to them.

The Catalan water, or wine, bottle, called the _porro_, is everywhere in
evidence in Roussillon. Perhaps it is a Mediterranean specialty, for the
Sicilians and the Maltese use the same thing. It's a curious affair,
something like an alchemist's alembic, and you drink from its nozzle,
holding it above the level of your mouth and letting the wine trickle
down your throat in as ample a stream as pleases your fancy.

Those who have become accustomed to it, will drink their wine no other
way, claiming it is never so sweet as when drunk from the _porro_.

    "_Du miel délayé dans un rayon de soleil._"

           *       *       *       *       *

    "_Boire la vie et la santé quand on le boit c'est le vin idéal._"

Apparently every Catalan peasant's household has one of these curious
glass bottles with its long tapering spout, and when a Catalan drinks
from it, pouring a stream of wine directly into his mouth, he makes a
"study" and a "picture" at the same time.

A variation of the same thing is the gourd or leathern bottle of the
mountaineer. It is difficult to carry a glass bottle such as the _porro_
around on donkey back, and so the thing is made of leather. The neck of
this is of wood, and a stopper pierced with a fine hole screws into it.

It comes in all sizes, holding from a bottleful to ten litres. The most
common is a two-litre one. When you want to drink you hold the leather
bag high in the air and pour a thin stream of wine into your mouth. The
art is to stop neatly with a jerk, and not spill a drop. One _can_
acquire the art, and it will be found an exceedingly practical way to
carry drink.

It is a curious, little-known corner of Europe, where France and Spain
join, at the eastern extremity of the Pyrenees, at Cap Cerbère. One read
in classic legend will find some resemblance between Cap Cerbère and the
terrible beast with three heads who guarded the gates of hell. There may
be some justification for this, as Pomponius Mela, a Latin geographer,
born however in Andalusia, wrote of a _Cervaria locus_, which he
designated as the _finis Galliæ_. Then, through evolution, we have
_Cervaria_, which in turn becomes the Catalan village of _Cerveia_. This
is the attitude of the historians. The etymologists put it in this wise:
_Cervaria_--meaning a wooded valley peopled with _cerfs_ (stags). The
reader may take his choice.

At any rate the Catalan Cerbère, known to-day only as the frontier
French station on the line to Barcelona, has become an unlovely railway
junction, of little appeal except in the story of its past.

In the twelfth century the place had already attained to prominence, and
its feudal seigneur, named Rabedos, built a public edifice for civic
pride, and a church which he dedicated to San Salvador.

In 1361 Guillem de Pau, a noble of the rank of _donzell_, and a member
of a family famous for its exploits against the Moors, became Seigneur
de Cerbère, and the one act of his life which puts him on record as a
feudal lord of parts is a charter signed by him giving the fishing
rights offshore from Collioure, for the distance of ten leagues, to one
Pierre Huguet--for a price. Thus is recorded a very early instance of
official sinning. One certainly cannot sell that which he has not got;
even maritime tribunals of to-day don't recognize anything beyond the
"three mile limit."

The seigneurs of Pau, who were Baillis de Cerbère, came thus to have a
hand in the conduct of affairs in the Mediterranean, though their own
bailiwick was nearer the Atlantic coast. At this time there were nine
vassal chiefs of families who owed allegiance to the head. After the
fourteenth century this frontier territory belonged, for a time, to the
Seigneurs des Abelles, their name coming from another little feudal
estate half hidden in one of the Mediterranean valleys of the Pyrenees.

The chapel of Cerbère, founded by Rabedos in the twelfth century, had
fallen in ruins by the end of the fourteenth century, but many pious
legacies left to it were conceded to the _clercs bénéficiaires_, a body
of men in holy orders who had influence enough in the courts of justice
to be able to claim as their own certain "goods of the church." Louis
XIV cut short these clerical benefits, however, and gave them--by what
right is quite vague--to his _maréchal_, Joseph de Rocabruna.

Some two centuries ago Cerbère possessed something approaching the
dignity of a château-fortress.

An act of the 25th May, 1700, refers to the Château de Caroig, perhaps
the Quer-Roig. The name now applies, however, only to a mass of ruins on
the summit of a near-by mountain of the same name. Not every one in the
neighbourhood admits this, some preferring to believe that the same heap
of stones was once a signal tower by which a warning fire was built to
tell of the approach of the Saracens or the pirates of Barbary. It might
well have been both watch-tower and château.



CHAPTER VI

FROM PERPIGNAN TO THE SPANISH FRONTIER

[Illustration: Coat of Arms Parpignan]


Once Perpignan was a fortified town of the first class, but now, save
for its old Citadelle and the Castillet, its warlike aspect has
disappeared.

One of Guy de Maupassant's heroes, having been asked his impressions of
Algiers, replied, "_Alger est une ville blanche!_" If it had been
Perpignan of which he was speaking, he would have said: "_Perpignan est
une ville rouge!_" for red is the dominant colour note of the entire
city, from the red brick Castillet to the sidewalks in front of the
cafés. Colour, however, is not the only thing that astonishes one at
Perpignan; the _tramontane_, that cruel northwest wind, as cruel almost
as the "mistral" of Provence, blows at times so fiercely that one
wonders that one brick upon another stands in place on the grand old
Castillet tower.

The brick fortifications of Perpignan are, or were, wonderful
constructions, following, in form and system, the ancient Roman manner.

It was a sacrilege to strip from the lovely city of Perpignan its triple
ramparts and Citadelle, leaving only the bare walls of the Castillet,
the sole remainder of its strength of old.

Perpignan's walls have disappeared, but still one realizes full well
what an important strategic point it is, guarding, as it does, the
eastern gateway into Spain.

All the cities of the Midi possess some characteristic by which they are
best known. Toulouse has its _Capitole_, Nîmes its _Arena_, Arles its
Alyscamps, Pau its Château, and Perpignan its Castillet.

Built entirely of rosy-red brick, its battlemented walls rise beside the
Quai de la Basse to-day as proudly as they ever did, though shorn of
their supporting ramparts, save the Porte Notre Dame adjoining. That
fortunately has been spared. Above this Porte Notre Dame is a figure of
the Madonna, which, as well as the gate, dates from the period when the
kings of Aragon retook possession of the ephemeral Royaume de Majorque,
of which Perpignan was the capital,--a glory, by the way, which endured
less than seventy years, but which has left a noticeable trace in all
things relating to the history of the region.

In the tenth century Perpignan was known only as "Villa Perpiniani,"
indeed it so remained until it was conquered by Louis XIII, when it
became definitely French. Bloody war, celebrated sieges, ravages by the
pest, an earthquake or two, and incendiaries without number could not
raze the city which in time became one of the great frontier strongholds
of France.

The Place de la Loge, the great café centre of Perpignan, is unique
among the smaller cities of France. Here is animation at all hours of
the day--and night, a perpetual going and coming of all the world, a
veritable Rialto or a Rue de la Paix. It is the business centre of the
city, and also the centre of its pleasures, a veritable forum. Cafés are
all about; even the grand old _Loge de Mer_, a delicious construction
of the fourteenth century, is a café.

[Illustration: _Porte Notre Dame and the Castillet, Perpignan_]

What a charming structure this Loge is! Its fourteenth-century
constructive elements have been further beautified with late flowering
Gothic of a century and a half later, and its great bronze lamps suggest
a symbolism which stands for eternity, or at any rate bespeaks the
solidity of Perpignan for all time.

Beside the Loge is the Hôtel de Ville, with its round-arched doorways
and windows, iron-barred in real mediæval fashion, with dainty
colonnettes between.

Next is the ancient Palais de Justice, adjoining the Hôtel de Ville. It
has a battery of mullioned twin windows of narrow aperture, and is in
perfect keeping with the mediæval trinity of which it is a part.

The cathedral of St. Jean is another of Perpignan's historical
monuments, but it is far from lovely at first glance, an atrocious
façade having been added by some "restorer" in recent times with more
suitable ideas for building fortresses than churches.

The tower of the cathedral is modern and, taken as a whole, is
undeniably effective with its iron cage and bell-rack. The original
tower fell two centuries ago during an extra violent blow of the
_tramontane_.

Passing centuries have changed Perpignan but little, and aside from the
boulevards and malls the streets are narrow and tortuous and almost
devoid of sidewalks. There are innumerable little bijou houses of Gothic
or Renaissance times, and in one narrow street, called quaintly Main de
Fer, one sees a real, unspoiled bit of the sixteenth century. One
curious house, now occupied by the Cercle de l'Union, dates from 1508,
and was erected for one Sancho or Xanxo. Its interior, so far as its
entrance hall and stairway are concerned, remains as it was when first
built.

The Rue Père Pigne has a legend connected with it which is worth
recounting. The Père Pigne, or Pigna, as his name was in Catalan-Spanish
days, was a cattle-herder in the upper valley of the Tet, beside the
village of Llagone. Weary of his lonely life he whispered to the rocks
and rills his desire for a less rude calling elsewhere, and the river
took him up in its arms and washed him incontinently down on to the
lowland plain of Roussillon, and, by some occult means or other,
suggested to the old man that his mission in life was to found there a
fertile, prosperous city. Thus Perpignan came to be founded.

There may be doubts as to the authenticity of the story, but there was
enough of reality attached to it to have led the city fathers to name a
street after the hero of the adventure.

Since the demolishment of its walls Perpignan has lost much of its
mediæval character, but nothing can take away the life and gaiety of its
streets and boulevards, its shops, its hotels and cafés. Perpignan comes
very near being the liveliest little capital of old France existing
under the modern republic of to-day.

The population is cosmopolitan, like that of Marseilles, and every
aspect of it is picturesque. The vegetable sellers, the fruit merchants,
the water and ice purveyors, all dark-eyed Catalan girls, are delightful
in face, figure and carriage. Their baggy white coiffes set off their
dark complexions and jet black hair. The men of this race are more
serious when they are at business (they are gay enough at other times)
and you may see twenty red onion or garlic dealers and never see a
smile, whereas an orange seller, a woman or girl, always has her mouth
open in a laugh and her headdress is always bobbing about; nothing
about her is passive and life to her is a dream, though it is serious
business to the men.

The taste of the Catalans of Perpignan for bright colouring in their
dress is akin to that of their brothers and sisters in Spain. The fact
that both slopes of the Eastern Pyrenees were under the same domination
up to the reign of Louis XIII may account for this.

The Citadelle of Perpignan is closed to the general tourist. None may
enter without permission from the military authorities, and that, for a
stranger, is difficult to obtain. The great gateway to the Citadelle is
a marvel of originality with its four archaic caryatides. Within is the
site of the ancient palace of the kings of Majorca, but the primitive
fragments have been rebuilt into the later works of Louis XI, Charles V
and Vauban until to-day it is but a species of fortress, and not at all
like a great domestic establishment such as one usually recognizes by
the name of palace.

The Église de la Real, beside the Citadelle, was built in the fourteenth
century and is celebrated for the council held here in 1408 by the
Anti-Pope, Pierre de Luna.

There are some bibliographical gems in Perpignan's Bibliothèque which
would make a new-world collector envious. There are numerous rare
incunabulæ and precious manuscripts, the most notable being the "Missel
de l'Abbaye d'Arles en Vallespir" (XIIth century) and the "Missel de la
Confrere," illustrated with miniatures (XVth century), worthy, each of
them, to be ranked with King René's "Book of Hours" at Aix so far as
mere beauty goes.

The habituated French traveller connects _rilettes_ with Tours, the
Cannebière with Marseilles, Les Lices with Arles, and, with Perpignan,
the _platanes_--great plane-trees, planted in a double line and forming
one of the most remarkable promenades, just beyond the Castillet, that
one has ever seen. It is a Prado, a Corso, and a Rambla all in one.

The Carnival de Perpignan is as brilliant a fête as one may see in any
Spanish or Italian city, where such celebrations are classic, and this
Allée des Platanes is then at its gayest.

Another of the specialties of Perpignan is the _micocoulier_, or "_bois
de Perpignan_," something better suited for making whip handles than any
other wood known. Each French city has its special industry; it may
elsewhere be _bérets_, _sabots_, truffles, pork-pies or sausages, but
here it is whips.

Perpignan has given two great men to the world, Jean Blanca and
Hyacinthe Rigaud. Jean Blanca, Bourgeois de Perpignan, was first consul
of the city when Louis XI besieged it in 1475. His son had been captured
by the besiegers and word was sent that he would be put to death if the
gates were not opened forthwith. The courageous consul replied simply
that the ties of blood and paternal love are not great enough to make
one a traitor to his God, his king and his native land. His son was, in
consequence, massacred beneath his very eyes.

Hyacinthe Rigaud was a celebrated painter, born at Perpignan in the
eighteenth century. His talents were so great that he was known as the
_Van Dyck français_.

Canet is a sort of seaside overflow of Perpignan, a dozen kilometres
away on the shores of the Mediterranean. On the way one passes the
scant, clumsy remains of the old twelfth-century Château Roussillon, now
remodelled into a little ill-assorted cluster of houses, a chapel and a
storehouse. The circular tower, really a svelt and admirable pile, is
all that remains of the château of other days, the last vestige of the
dignity that once was Ruscino's, the ancient capital of the Comté de
Roussillon.

[Illustration: CHÂTEAU ROUSSILLON]

At Canet itself there are imposing ruins, sitting hard by the sea,
of centuries of regal splendour, though now they rank only as an
attraction of the humble little village of Roussillon. The belfry of
Canet's humble church looks like a little brother of that of
"Perpignan-le-Rouge" and points plainly to the fact that styles in
architecture are as distinctly local as are fashions in footwear.

Canet to-day is a watering place for the people of Perpignan, but in the
past it was venerated by the holy hermits and monks of Roussillon for
much the same attractions that it to-day possesses. Saint Galdric,
patron of the Abbey of Saint Martin du Canigou, and, later, Saints Abdon
and Sennen were frequenters of the spot.

Rivesaltes, practically a suburb of Perpignan, a dozen kilometres north,
is approached by as awful a road as one will find in France. The town
will not suggest much or appeal greatly to the passing traveller, unless
indeed he stops there for a little refreshment and has a glass of
_muscat_, that sweet, sticky liquor which might well be called simply
raisin juice. It is a "_specialité du pays_," and really should be
tasted, though it may be had anywhere in the neighbourhood. It is a wine
celebrated throughout France.

At Salces, on the Route Nationale, just beyond Narbonne and Rivesaltes,
is an old fortification built by Charles V on one of his ambitious
pilgrimages across France. A great square of masonry, with a donjon
tower in the middle and with walls of great thickness, it looks
formidable enough, but modern Krupp or Creusot cannon would doubtless
make short work of it.

A dozen kilometres to the south of Perpignan is Elne, an ancient
cathedral town. From afar one admires the sky line of the town and a
nearer acquaintance but increases one's pleasure and edification.

The Phoenicians, or the Iberians, founded the city, perhaps, five
hundred years before the beginning of the Christian era, and Hannibal in
his passage of the Pyrenees rested here. Another five hundred years and
it had a Roman emperor for its guardian, and Constantine, who would have
made it great and wealthy, surrounded it with ramparts and built a
donjon castle, of which unfortunately not a vestige remains.

Ages came and went, and the city dwindled in size, and the church grew
poor with it, until at last, in 1601, Pope Clement VIII (a French Pope,
by the way) authorized its bishop to move to Perpignan, where indeed
the see has been established ever since.

Of the past feudal greatness of Elne only a fragmentary rampart and the
fortified Portes de Collioure and Perpignan remain. The rest must be
taken on faith. Nevertheless, Elne is a place to be omitted from no
man's itinerary in these parts.

The great wealth and beauty of Elne's cathedral cannot be recounted
here. They would require a monograph to themselves. Little by little
much has been taken from it, however, until only the glorious fabric
remains. To cite an example, its great High Altar, made of beaten silver
and gold, was, under the will of the canons of the church themselves, in
the time of Louis XV, sent to the mint at Perpignan and coined up into
good current _écus_ for the benefit of some one, history does not state
whom.

From the beautiful cloister, in the main a tenth-century work, and the
largest and most beautiful in the Pyrenees, one steps out on a little
_perron_ when another ravishing Mediterranean panorama unfolds itself.
There are others as fine; that from the platform of the château at
Carcassonne; from the terrace at Pau; or from the citadel-fortress
church at Béziers. This at Elne, however, is the equal of any. Below
are the plains of Roussillon and Vallespir, red and green and gold like
a _tapis d'Orient_, with the Albéres mountains for a background, while
away in the distance, in a soft glimmering haze of a blue horizon, is
the Mediterranean. It is all truly beautiful.

In the direction of the Spanish frontier Argelès-sur-Mer comes next. It
has historic value and its inhabitants number three thousand, though few
recognize this, or have even heard its name. As a matter of fact, it
might have become one of the great maritime cities of the eastern slope
of the Pyrenees except that fickle fate ruled otherwise.

The name of Argelès-sur-Mer figured first in a document of Lothaire,
King of France, in 981; and, three centuries later, it was the
meeting-place between the kings of Majorca and Aragon and the princes of
Roussillon, when, at the instigation of Philippe le Bel, an expiring
treaty was to be renewed.

The city at that time belonged to the Royaume de Majorque, and Pierre IV
of Aragon, in the Château d'Amauros, defended it through a mighty siege.

Five hundred metres above the sea, and to be seen to-day, was also the
Tour des Pujols, another fortification of the watch-tower or
block-house variety, frequently seen throughout the Pyrenees.

At the taking of Roussillon by Louis XI, Argelès-sur-Mer was in turn in
possession of the King of Aragon and the King of France. Under Louis
XIII the city surrendered with no resistance to the Maréchal de la
Meilleraye; and later fell again to the Spaniards, becoming truly French
in 1646.

It was a _Ville Royale_ with a right of vote in the Catalonian
parliament, and enjoyed great privileges up to the Revolution, a fact
which is plainly demonstrated by the archives of the city preserved at
the local Mairie.

In 1793 the Spanish flag again flew from its walls; but the brave
Dugommier, the real saviour of this part of the Midi of France in
revolutionary times, regained the city for the French for all time.

Five kilometres south of Argelès-sur-Mer is Collioure, the ancient Port
Illiberries, the seaport of Elne. It is one of the most curiously
interesting of all the coast towns of Roussillon. Here one sees the best
of the Catalan types of Roussillon, gentle maidens, coiffe on head,
carrying water jugs with all the grace that nature gave them, and rough,
hardy, red-capped sailors as salty in their looks and talk as the sea
itself.

Collioure is not a _grande ville_. Even now it is a mere fishing port,
and no one thinks of doing more than passing through its gates and out
again. Nevertheless its historic interest endures. From the fact that
Roman coins and pottery have been found here, its bygone position has
been established as one of prominence. In the seventh century it was in
the hands of the Visigoths and three centuries later Lothaire, King of
France, gave permission to Wifred, Comte de Roussillon et d'Empories, to
develop and exploit the ancient settlement anew.

Here, in 1280, Guillaume de Puig d'Orphila founded a Dominican convent;
and it is the Église de Collioure of to-day, sitting snugly by the
entrance to the little port, that formed the church of the old
conventual establishment. In 1415 the Anti-Pope Benoit XIII, Pierre de
Luna, took ship here, frightened from France by the menaces of
Sigismond. Louis XI, when he sought to reduce Roussillon, would have
treated Collioure hardly, but so earnest and skilful was its defence
that it escaped the indignities thrust upon Elne and Perpignan. The
kings of Spain for a time dominated the city, and during their rule
the fortress known to-day as the Fort St. Elne was constructed.

[Illustration: COLLIOURE]

One of the red-letter incidents of Collioure was the shipwreck off its
harbour of the Infanta of Spain, as she was en route by sea from
Barcelona to Naples in 1584. A galley slave carried the noble lady on
his shoulders as he swam to shore. News of the adventure came to the
Bishop of Elne who was also plain Jean Terès, a Catalan and governor of
the province; and he caused the unfortunate lady to be brought to the
episcopal palace for further care. In return the princess used her
influence at court and had the prelate made Archbishop of Tarragona,
viceroy of Catalonia, and counsellor to the king of Spain. Of the
_forçat_ who really saved the lady, the chroniclers are blank. One may
hope that he obtained some recompense, or at least liberty.

There are numerous fine old Gothic and Renaissance houses here, with
carved statues in niches, hanging lamps, great bronze knockers, and iron
hinges, interesting enough to incite the envy of a curio-collector.

Collioure has a great fête on the sixteenth of August of each year, the
Fête de Saint Vincent. There is much processioning going and coming from
the sea in ships and gaily decorated boats, and after all fireworks on
the water. The religious significance of it all is lost in the general
rejoicing; but it's a most impressive sight nevertheless.

Collioure is also famous for its fishing. The sardines and anchovies
taken offshore from Collioure are famous all over France and Russia
where gastronomy is an art. Two classic excursions are to be made from
Collioure; one is to the hermitage of Notre Dame de Consolation, and the
other to the Abbey of Valbonne. The first is simply a ruined hermitage
seated on a little verdure-clad plateau high above the vineyards and
olive orchards of the plain; but it is remarkably attractive, and it
takes no great wealth of imagination to people the courtyard with the
holy men of other days. Now its ruined, gray walls are set off with
lichens, vines and rose-trees; and it is as quiet and peaceful a retreat
from the world and its nerve-racking conventions as may be found.

The Abbey of Valbonne is practically the counterpart of Notre Dame de
Consolation so far as unworldliness goes. It was founded in 1242, but
left practically deserted from the fifteenth century, after the invasion
of Roussillon by Louis XI. The Tour Massane, a great guardian
watch-tower, dominates the ruins and marks the spot where Yolande, a
queen of Aragon, lies buried.

[Illustration: _Château d'Ultrera_]

Inland from Collioure, perhaps five kilometres in a bee line, but a
dozen or more by a sinuous mountain path, high up almost on the crest of
the Albères, is the château fort of Ultrera. Its name alone, without
further description, indicates its picturesqueness, probably derived
from the _castrum vulturarium_, or nest of vultures of Roman times. What
the history of this stronghold may have been in later mediæval times no
one knows; but it was a Roman outpost in the year 1073 and later a
Visigoth stronghold. It was a fortress guarding the route to and from
Spain via Narbonne, Salies, Ruscino, Elne, Saint André, Pave and so on
to the Col de la Carbossière. Now this road is only a mule track and all
the considerable traffic between the two countries passes via the Col de
Perthus to the westward.

The peak upon which sits Ultrera culminates at a height of five hundred
and seventeen metres, and rises abruptly from the seashore plain in most
spectacular fashion. The ruins are but ruins to be sure, but the grim
suggestion of what they once stood for is very evident. En route from
Perpignan or Collioure one passes the Ermitage de Notre Dame de Château,
formerly a place of pious pilgrimage, and where travellers may still
find refreshment.

Banyuls-sur-Mer is the last French station on the railway leading into
Spain. At Banyuls even a keen observer of men and things would find it
hard, if he had been plumped down here in the middle of the night, to
tell, on awaking in the morning, whether he was in Spain, Italy or
Africa. The country round about is a blend of all three; with, perhaps,
a little of Greece. It possesses a delicious climate and a flora almost
as sub-tropical and as varied as that of Madeira.

No shadow hangs over Banyuls-sur-Mer. The sea scintillates at its very
doors; and, opposite, lie the gracious plains and valleys which reach to
the crowning crests of the Pyrenees in the southwest. It is an ancient
bourg, and its history recurs again and again in that of Roussillon.
Turn by turn one reads in the pages of its chroniclers the names of the
Comtes d'Empories-Roussillon, and the Rois de Majorque et d'Aragon.

Lothaire and the then reigning Comte d'Empories came to an arrangement
in the tenth century whereby the hill above the town was to be fortified
by the building of a château or _mas_. This was done; but the seaport
never prospered greatly until the union of France and Roussillon, when
its people, whose chief source of prosperity had been a contraband
trade, took their proper place in the affairs of the day.

The National Convention subsequently formulated a decree that the
"_Banyulais ayant bien merité de la patrie_," and ordered that an
obelisk be erected commemorative of the capitulation of the Spaniards.
For long years this none too lovely monument was unbuilt,--"_Banyuls est
si loin de Paris_," said the habitant in explanation--but to-day it
stands in all its ugliness on the quay by the waterside.



CHAPTER VII

THE CANIGOU AND ANDORRA


There is a section of the Pyrenees that may well be called "the unknown
Pyrenees." The main chain has been travelled, explored and exploited for
long years, but the Canigou, lying between the rivers Tet and Tech, has
only come to be known since half a dozen years ago when the French Alps
Club built a châlet-hotel on the plateau of Cortalets. This is at an
altitude of 2,200 metres, from which point it is a two hour and a half
climb to the summit.

All the beauties of the main chain of the Pyrenees are here in this
side-long spur just before it plunges its forefoot into the blue waters
of the Mediterranean. It is majestic, and full of sweet flowering
valleys stretching off northward and eastward. Unless one would conquer
the Andes or the Himalayas he will find the Canigou, Puig, Campiardos,
or Puigmal, from eight to ten thousand feet in height, all he will care
to undertake without embracing mountaineering as a profession.

The great charm of the Canigou is its comparatively isolated grandeur;
for the mountains slope down nearly to sea level, before they rise again
and form the main chain.

A makeshift road runs up as far as the Club's châlet, but walking or
mule back are the only practicable means of approach. To-day it is all
primitive and unspoiled, but some one in the neighbourhood has been to
Switzerland and learned the rudiments of "exploitation" and every little
while threatens a funicular railway--and a tea room.

In the châlet are twenty-five beds ready for occupancy, at prices
ranging from a franc and a half to two francs and a half in summer. In
winter the establishment is closed; but those venturesome spirits who
would undertake the climb may get a key to the snow-buried door at
Perpignan.

One may dispute the fact that Canigou is as fine as Mont Blanc, Mount
McKinley or Popocatepetl, but its three thousand majestic metres of
tree-grown height are quite as pleasing and varied in their outline as
any other peak on earth.

The Savoyard says: "_Ce n'est tout de même pas le Mont Blanc avec ses
4,800 mètres_," and you admit it, but one doesn't size up a mountain
for its mere mathematical valuation.

The Canigou stands out by itself, and that is why its majesty is so
impressive. This is also true of Mont Ventoux in Provence, but how many
tourists of the personally conducted order realize there are any
mountains in Europe save the Alps and its kingly Mont Blanc--which they
fondly but falsely believe is in Switzerland.

High above, as the pilgrims of to-day wind their way among the
moss-grown rocks of the mountainside, rises the antique Romano-Byzantine
tower and ruins of the old Abbey of Saint Martin.

Built perilously on a rocky peak, the abbey is a regular eagle's nest in
fact and fancy. In grandiose melancholy it sits and regards the sweeping
plains of Roussillon as it did nearly a thousand years ago. The storms
of winter, and the ravages incident to time have used it rather badly.
It has been desecrated and pillaged, too, but all this has been stopped;
and the abbey church has, with restoration and care, again taken its
place among the noble religious monuments of France.

[Illustration: The Pilgrimage to St. Martin]

At the beginning of the eleventh century the Comte de Cerdagne and
Conflent, and his wife Guifred, gave this eerie site, at an altitude
of considerably more than a thousand metres above the sea, to a
community of Benedictine monks for the purpose of founding a monastery.
Ten years later the Bishop Oliba, of Vic-d'Osona in Catalonia,
consecrated the church and put it under the patronage of Saint Martin;
and a Bull of Pope Sergius IV, dated 1011 and preserved in the Musée at
Perpignan, confirmed the act and granted the institution the privilege
of being known as a mitred abbey, bestowing on its governor the
canonical title. It is this antique monastery which rises to-day from
its ruins. It has been sadly robbed in times past of columns, capitals
and keystones, and many a neighbouring farm-house bears evidence of
having, in part, been built up from its ruins.

The yearly Catalan pilgrimage to St. Martin de Canigou and the services
held in the ruined old abbey are two remarkably impressive sights. The
soft, dulcet Catalan speech seems to lend itself readily to the mother
tongue of Latin in all its purity. A Spanish poet of some generations
ago, Jacinto Verdaguer--called the Mistral-espagnol--wrote a wonderfully
vivid epic, "Canigou," with, naturally, the old abbey in the centre of
the stage.

In Verdaguer's charming poem, written in the Catalan tongue, the old
abbey tower is made to moan:--"_Campanes ja no tinch_"--"_Bells I have
no longer_." This is no longer true, for in 1904 the omnific "Évêque de
Canigou" (really the Bishop of Perpignan) caused to be hung in the old
crenelated tower a new peal, and to-day there rings forth from the
campanile such reverberating melody as has not been known for centuries:
"_Campanes ja tinch_"--"_I have my bell; Oliba has come to life again;
he has brought them back to me_."

The present Bishop of Perpignan, Monseigneur de Carsalade du Pont, in
recent years took steps to acquire proprietorship in the abbey church,
that it might be safe from further depredations, and solicited donations
throughout his diocese of Perpignan and Catalonia for the enterprise.

In 1902, this prelate and his "faithful" from all the Catalan country,
in Spain as well as France, made the Fête de Saint Martin (11th
November) memorable. To give a poetic and sentimental importance to this
occasion the bishop invited the "Consistoire" of the "Jeux Floraux" of
Barcelona to hold their forty-fourth celebration here at the same time.

On a golden November sunlit day, amid the ring of mountains all
resplendent with a brilliant autumn verdure, this grandest of all Fêtes
of St. Martin was held. In the midst of the throng were the Bishop of
Perpignan in his pontifical robes, and the mitred Abbé de la Trappe--a
venerable monk with snowy beard and vestments. At the head of the
procession floated the reconstituted banner of the Comte Guifred,
bearing the inscription "_Guifre par la gracia de Dieu Comte de Cerdanya
y de Conflent_." The local clergy from all over Roussillon and Catalonia
were in line, and thousands of lay pilgrims besides.

At the church, when the procession finally arrived, was celebrated a
Pontifical Mass. At the conclusion of this religious ceremony the
Catalans of Barcelona took possession of the old basilica and the "_fête
littéraire_" commenced.

The emotion throughout both celebrations was profound, and at the end
there broke out seemingly interminable applause and shouts of "_Vive la
Catalogne!_" "_Vive le Roussillon._" "_Vive Barcelone!_" "_Vive
Perpignan!_"

Back of the Canigou, between it and the main chain of the Pyrenees, is
the smiling valley of the Tech and Vallespir.

The route from Perpignan into Spain passes by Le Boulou, on the Tech.
If one is en route to Barcelona, and is not an automobilist, let him
make his way to Le Boulou, which is really an incipient watering-place,
and take the diligence up over the Col de Perthus and down into Spain on
the other side. The hasty travellers may prefer the "Paris-Barcelone
Express," but they will know not the joy of travel, and the entrance
into Spain through the cut of Cerbère is most unlovely.

France has fortified the Col de Perthus, but Spain only guards her
interests by her _carabiniers_ and _douaniers_. The little bourg of
Perthus consists of but one long main street, formed in reality by the
"Route Internationale," of which one end is French and the other, the
Calle Mayor, is Spanish.

Above the village is Fort Bellegarde. It looks imposing, but if guns
could get near enough it would doubtless fall in short order. It was
built by Vauban under Louis XIV, in 1679, on a mamelon nearly fifteen
hundred feet above the pass, and its situation is most commanding. To
the west was another gateway into Spain, once more frequented than the
Col de Perthus, but it has been made impracticable by the military
strategists as a part of the game of war.

Just beyond Le Boulou is Céret, a little town at an elevation of a
couple of hundred metres above the sea.

Céret's bridge has been attributed to the Romans, and to the devil. The
round loophole, on either side of the great arch, is supposed to have
been a malicious afterthought of the engineers who built the bridge to
head off the evil influences of the devil who set them to the task. The
application is difficult to follow, and the legend might as well apply
to the eyes painted on the bows of a Chinese junk. As a matter of record
the bridge was built in 1321, by whom will perhaps never be known.

Amélie-les-Bains is ten kilometres higher up in the valley of Tech, and
has become a thermal station of repute, due entirely to the impetus
first given to it by the spouse of France's "Citizen King" in 1840,
whose name it bears.

Bagnères-de-Luchon, or more familiarly Luchon, is called the queen of
Pyrenean watering-places. If this is so Amélie-les-Bains is certainly
the princess, with its picturesque ring of mountain background, and its
guardian sentinel the Canigou rising immediately in front. It enjoys a
climate the softest in all the Pyrenees, a sky exempt of all the
vicissitudes of the seasons, and a winter without freezing.

Just north of Amélie-les-Bains is the little village of Palada. It sits
halfway up the mountainside, beneath the protection of a once formidable
château, to-day in ruins, its gray green stones crumbling before the
north wind which blows here in the winter months with a severity that
blows knots from their holes,--at least this is the local description of
it, though the writer has never experienced the like. The inhabitants of
the poor little village of Palada got hot-headed in 1871, when Paris was
under the Commune, and had a little affair of their own on the same
order.

The whole valley of the Tech, being a near neighbour of Spain, has that
hybrid French-Spanish aspect which gives a distinctive shade of life and
colour to everything about. The red cap of the Catalan is as often seen
as the blue hat of the Languedoçian.

At Arles-sur-Tech, not for a moment to be confounded with
Arles-en-Provence, is a remarkable series of architectural monuments, as
well as a charming old church which dates back to the twelfth century,
and a Roman sarcophagus which mysteriously fills itself with water, and
performs miracles on the thirtieth of each July. Within the church are
the relics of the Christian martyrs, Abdon and Sennen, brought from
Rome in the ninth century. The charming little mountain town is at once
an historic and a religious shrine.

High up in the valley of the Tech is Prats-de-Mollo, with its guardian
fortress of Lagarde high above on the flank of a hill. This tiny
fortress looks hardly more than a block-house to-day, but in its time it
was ranked as one of the best works of Vauban. To keep it company, one
notes the contrasting ruins of the feudal Château de Peille hard by.

The town itself is fortified by a surrounding rampart, still well
preserved, with great gates and pepper-box towers well distributed
around its circumference. In olden times these ramparts held off the
besieging kings of Aragon, but to-day they would quickly succumb to
modern guns and ammunition.

Along with its bygone attractions Prats-de-Mollo is trying hard to
become a resort, and there are hotels of a modernity and excellence
which are surprising for a small town of twenty-five hundred
inhabitants, so far off the beaten track. In spite of this no amount of
improvements and up-to-date ideas will ever eradicate the mediæval
aspect of the place, unless the walls themselves are razed. Its
churches, too, are practically fortresses, like those of its neighbour
Arles, and the whole aspect of the region is warlike.

The principal church, which dominates the city with its great Roman
tower, is a remarkable construction in more ways than one. It is a
veritable church militant, for from its great crenelated tower one may
pass by an underground vaulted gallery to and from Fort Lagarde. There
is no such view to be had up and down the valley and off towards the
Spanish frontier as from its platform. The interior is most curious;
more Spanish than French in its profuse application of gold and tinsel.
A gigantic _rétable_ of the time of Louis XIV is the chief artistic
accessory within.

There is no carriage road from Prats into Spain, but a mule track leads
to the Spanish village of Camprodon.

In a little corner of the Pyrenees, between Vallespir and the valley of
the Tech--where lie Céret, Arles and Prats-de-Mollo--and the valley of
the Tet, around the western flank of the Canigou, is the Cerdagne, a
little district of other days, known to-day only to travellers to or
from Perpignan or Quillan into Andorra, via Hospitalet or Bourg-Madame.
Vauban fortified the Col de la Perche on the Spanish border to protect
the three districts ceded to Louis XIII by Spain--Cerdagne, Capcir and
Conflent.

Almost the whole of the Cerdagne is mountains and valleys; and until one
reaches the valley of the Tet, at Villefranche or Prades, one is
surrounded by a silent strangeness which is conducive to the thought of
high ideals and the worship of nature, but drearily lonesome to one who
likes to study men and manners. This is about the wildest, ruggedest,
and least spoiled corner of France to-day. Nothing else in the Pyrenees
or the Alps can quite approach it for solitude.

Villefranche--Conflent and Barcelonnette in the Basses-Alpes might be
sisters, so like are they in their make-up and surroundings. Each have
great fortresses with parapets of brick, and great stairways of ninety
steps leading up from the lower town. The surrounding houses--half-fortified,
narrow-windowed, and bellicose-looking--stand as grim and silent to-day
as if they feared imminent invasion.

Far away in the historic past Villefranche was founded by a Comte de
Cerdagne who surrounded himself with a little band of adventurers who
were willing to turn their hand to fighting, smuggling or any other
profitable business.

Vauban took this old foundation and surrounded it with walls anew, and
gave the present formidable aspect to the place, building its ramparts
of the red marble or porphyry extracted from the neighbouring mountains.
Its naturally protected position, set deep in a rocky gorge, gave added
strength to the fortress.

Louis XIV, in one of his irrational moments, built a château here and
proposed living in it, but fate ruled otherwise. About the only
connection of the king with it was when he chained up four women in a
dungeon. The chains and rings in the walls may be seen to-day.

Villefranche, its fortifications and its château are admirable examples
of the way of doing things in Roussillon between the tenth and
fourteenth centuries; and the town is typically characteristic of a
feudal bourg, albeit it has no very splendid or magnificent
appointments.

Prades, just east of Villefranche, dates its years from the foundation
of Charles-le-Chauve in 844, and has a fourteenth and fifteenth century
château (in ruins) affectionately referred to by the habitant as "La
Reine Marguerite." Assiduous research fails however to connect either
Marguerite de France or Marguerite de Navarre with it or its history.

[Illustration: _Villefranche_]

Near Villefranche is the little paradise of Vernet. It contains both a
new and an old town, each distinct one from the other, but forming
together a delightful retreat. It has a château, too, which is something
a good deal better than a ruin, though it was dismantled in the
seventeenth century.

Vernet has a regular population of twelve hundred, and frequently as
many more visitors. This is what makes the remarkable combination of the
new and the old. The ancient town is built in amphitheatre form on a
rocky hillside above which rises the parish church and the château
which, since its partial demolition, has lately been restored. The new
Vernet, the thermal resort, dates from 1879, when it first began to be
exploited as a watering-place, and took the name of Vernet-les-Bains for
use in the guide books and railway timetables. Naturally this
modern-built town with its hotels, its casino and its bath houses, is
less lovely and winsome than its older sister on the hill. There are
twelve springs here, and some of them were known to the Romans in the
tenth century.

On towards the frontier and the mountain road into the tiny Pyrenean
state of Andorra is Mont Louis. Just before Mont Louis, on the main road
leading out from Perpignan, one passes below the walls of the highest
fortress in France.

Within a couple of kilometres of Mont Louis, at the little village of
Planes, is one of the most curious churches in France. It is what is
known as a "round church," and there are not many like it in or out of
France, if one excepts the baptistries at Pisa and Ravenna, and at
Aix-en-Provence, and Charlemagne's church at Aix-la-Chapelle. This
Église de Planes is more like a mosque than a church in its outlines,
and its circular walls with its curious mission-like bell-tower (surely
built by some Spanish _padre_) present a ground plan and a sky line
exceedingly bizarre.

Beyond Mont Louis and close under the shadow of Spain is Bourg-Madame. A
peculiar interest attaches to Bourg-Madame by reason of the fact that it
is a typical Franco-Spanish frontier town, a mixture of men and manners
of the two nations. It sits on one side of the tiny river Sevre, which
marks the frontier at this point, a river so narrow that a plank could
bridge it, and the comings and goings of French and Spanish travellers
across this diminutive bridge will suggest many things to a writer of
romantic fiction. Bourg-Madame is a good locale for a novel, and plenty
of plots can be had ready-made if one will but gossip with the French
and Spanish gendarmes hanging about, or the driver of the diligence who
makes the daily round between Bourg-Madame and Puigcerda in Spain.

In 1905 there was held a great fête at Bourg-Madame and Puigcerda, in
celebration of the anniversary of the signing of the Franco-Spanish
Convention of 1904, relative to the Trans-Pyrenean railways. It was all
very practical and there was very little romance about it though it was
a veritable fête day for all the mountaineers.

The mayors from both the French and Spanish sides of the frontier, and
the municipal councillors and other prominent persons from Barcelona met
at the baths of Escalde, at an altitude of fourteen hundred metres. M.
Delcassé, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, described the various
stages of Franco-Spanish relations leading up to the convention as to
the Trans-Pyrenean railways, which he hoped to see rapidly constructed.
He said that while in office he had done all in his power to unite
France and Spain. "He drank to his dear friends of Spain, to the noble
Spanish nation, to its young sovereign, who had only to show himself to
the public to win universal sympathy, to the gracious queen, daughter of
a great country, the friend of France, who never tired of formulating
good wishes for the prosperity and grandeur of valiant Spain." After the
fêtes on the French side, the party crossed the frontier and continued
this international festival at Puigcerda. The fêtes ended long after
midnight, after a gala performance at the theatre, at which the
Marseillaise and the Spanish national air were enthusiastically cheered.

The French highroad turns northwest at Bourg-Madame, and via Porta and
Porté and the Tour de Carol--perhaps a relic of the Moors, but more
likely a reminder of Charlemagne, who chased them from these parts--one
comes to Hospitalet, from which point one enters Andorra by crossing the
main chain of the Pyrenees at the Col de Puymorins.

"A beggarly village," wrote a traveller of Hospitalet, just previous to
the Revolution, "with a shack of an inn that made me almost shrink. Some
cutthroat figures were eating black bread, and their faces looked so
much like galley-slaves that I thought I heard their chains rattle. I
looked at their legs, but found them free."

There's good material here for a novel of adventure, or was a hundred
years ago, but now the still humble inn of Hospitalet is quiet and
peaceful.

[Illustration: arms of Andorra]

The little republic of Andorra, hidden away in the fastnesses of the
Pyrenees between France and Spain, its allegiance divided between the
Bishop of Urgel in Spain and the French Government, is a relic of
mediævalism which will probably never fall before the swift advance of
twentieth century ideas of progress. At least it will never be over-run
by automobiles.

From French or Spanish territory this little unknown land is to be
reached by what is called a "_route carrossable_," but the road is so
bad that the sure-footed little donkeys of the Pyrenees are by far the
best means of locomotion unless one would go up on foot, a matter of
twenty kilometres or more from Hospitalet in Spanish or Porté in French
territory.

This is a good place to remark that the donkeys of the Pyrenees largely
come from Spain, but curiously enough the donkeys and mules of Spain are
mostly bred in the Vendée, just south of the Loire, in France.

The political status of Andorra is most peculiar, but since it has
endured without interruption (and this in spite of wars and rumours of
war) for six centuries, it seems to be all that is necessary.

A relic of the Middle Ages, Andorra-Viella, the city, and its six
thousand inhabitants live in their lonesome retirement much as they did
in feudal times, except for the fact that an occasional newspaper
smuggled in from France or Spain gives a new topic of conversation.

This paternal governmental arrangement which cares for the welfare of
the people of Andorra, the city and the province, is the outcome of a
treaty signed by Pierre d'Urg and Roger-Bernard, the third Comte de
Foix, giving each other reciprocal rights. There's nothing very strange
about this; it was common custom in the Middle Ages for lay and
ecclesiastical seigneurs to make such compacts, but the marvel is that
it has endured so well with governments rising and falling all about,
and grafters and pretenders and dictators ruling every bailiwick in
which they can get a foothold. Feudal government may have had some bad
features, but certainly the republics and democracies of to-day, to say
nothing of absolute monarchies, have some, too.

The ways of access between France and Andorra are numerous enough; but
of the eight only two--and those not all the way--are really practicable
for wheeled traffic. The others are mere trails, or mule-paths.

The people of Andorra, as might be inferred, are all ardent Catholics;
and for a tiny country like this to have a religious seminary, as that
at Urgel, is remarkable of itself.

Public instruction is of late making headway, but half a century ago the
shepherd and labouring population--perhaps nine-tenths of the whole--had
little learning or indeed need for it. Their manners and customs are
simple and severe and little has changed in modern life from that of
their great-great-great-grandfathers.

Each family has a sort of a chief or official head, and the eldest son
always looks for a wife among the families of his own class. Seldom, if
ever, does the married son quit the paternal roof, so large households
are the rule. In a family where there are only girls the eldest is the
heir, and she may only marry with a cadet of another family by his
joining his name with hers. Perhaps it is this that originally set the
fashion for hyphenated names.

The Andorrans are generally robust and well built; the maladies of more
populous regions are practically unknown among them. This speaks much
for the simple life!

Costumes and dress are rough and simple and of heavy woollens, clipped
from the sheep and woven on the spot. Public officers, the few
representatives of officialdom who exist, alone make any pretence at
following the fashions. The women occupy a very subordinate position in
public affairs. They may not be present at receptions and functions and
not even at mass when it is said by the bishop. Crime is infrequent, and
simple, light punishments alone are inflicted. Things are not so
uncivilized in Andorra as one might think!

In need all men may be called upon to serve as soldiers, and each head
of a family must have a rifle and ball at hand at all times. In other
words, he must be able to protect himself against marauders. This does
away with the necessity of a large standing police force.

Commerce and industry are free of all taxation in Andorra, and customs
dues apply on but few articles. For this reason there is not a very
heavy tax on a people who are mostly cultivators and graziers.

There is little manufacturing industry, as might be supposed, and what
is made--save by hand and in single examples--is of the most simple
character. "Made in Germany" or "Fabriqué en Belgique" are the marks one
sees on most of the common manufactured articles. "Those terrible
Germans!" is a trite, but true saying.

The Andorrans are a simple, proud, gullible people, who live to-day in
the past, of the past and for the past; "_Les vallées et souverainetés
de l'Andorre_" are to them to-day just what they always were--a little
world of their own.



CHAPTER VIII

THE HIGH VALLEY OF THE AUDE


The Aude, rising close under the crest of the Pyrenees, flows down to
the Mediterranean between Narbonne and Béziers. It is one of the
daintiest mountain streams imaginable as it flows down through the
Gorges de St. Georges and by Axat and Quillan to Carcassonne, and the
following simple lines by Auguste Baluffe describe it well.

    "Dans le fond des bleus horizons,
     Les villages ont des maisons
            Toutes blanches,
     Que l'on aperçoit à travers
     Les bois, formant des rideaux verts
            De leurs branches."

At Carcassonne the Aude joins that natural waterway of the Pyrenees, the
Garonne, through the Canal du Midi. This great Canal-de-Deux-Mers, as it
is often called, connecting with the Garonne at Toulouse, joins the
Mediterranean at the Golfe des Lions, with the Atlantic at the Golfe de
Gascogne, and serves in its course Carcassonne, Narbonne and Béziers.
The Canal du Midi was one of the marvels of its time when built (1668),
though it has since been superseded by many others. It was one of the
first masterpieces of the French engineers, and may have been the
inspiration of De Lesseps in later years.

Boileau in his "Epitre au Roi," said:--

    "J'entends déjà frémir les deux mers étonnées
     De voir leurs flots unis au pied de Pyrénées."

South of Carcassonne and Limoux, just over "the mountains blue" of which
the old peasant sang, is St. Hilaire, the market town of a canton of
eight hundred inhabitants. It is more than that. It is a mediæval shrine
of the first rank; for it is the site of an abbey founded in the fifth
or sixth century. This abbey was under the direct protection of
Charlemagne in 780, and he bestowed upon it "_lettres de sauvegarde_,"
which all were bound to respect. The monastery was secularized in 1748,
but its thirteenth-century church, half Romanesque and half Gothic, will
ever remain as one of the best preserved relics of its age. For some
inexplicable reason its carved and cut stone is unworn by the ravages of
weather, and is as fresh and sharp in its outlines as if newly cut.
Within is the tomb of St. Hilaire, the first bishop of Carcassonne. The
sculpture of the tomb is of the ninth century, and it is well to know
that the same thing seen in the Musée Cluny at Paris is but a
reproduction. The original still remains here. The fourteenth-century
cloister is a wonderful work of its kind, and this too in a region where
this most artistic work abounds.

One's entrance into Quillan by road is apt to be exciting. The
automobile is no novelty in these days; but to run afoul of a five
kilometre procession of peasant folk with all their traps, coming and
going to a market town keeps one down to a walking pace.

[Illustration: _Château de Puylaurens_]

On the particular occasion when the author and artist passed this way,
all the animals bought and sold that day at the cattle fair of Quillan
seemed to be coming from the town. The little men who had them in tow
were invariably good-natured, but everybody had a hard time in
preventing horses, cows and sheep from bolting and dogs from getting run
over. Finally we arrived; and a more well-appreciated haven we have
never found. The town itself is quaint, picturesque and quite different
from the tiny bourgs of the Pyrenees. It is in fact quite a city in
miniature. Though Quillan is almost a metropolis, everybody goes to
bed by ten o'clock, when the lights of the cafés go out, leaving the
stranger to stroll by the river and watch the moon rise over the Aude
with the ever present curtain of the Pyrenees looming in the distance.
It is all very peaceful and romantic, for which reason it may be
presumed one comes to such a little old-world corner of Europe. And yet
Quillan is a gay, live, little town, though it has not much in the way
of sights to attract one. Still it is a delightful idling-place, and a
good point from which to reach the château of Puylaurens out on the
Perpignan road.

Puylaurens has as eerie a site as any combination of walls and roofs
that one has ever seen. It perches high on a peak overlooking the valley
of the Boulzane; and for seven centuries has looked down on the comings
and goings of legions of men, women and children, and beasts of burden
that bring up supplies to this sky-scraping height. To-day the château
well deserves the name of ruin, but if it were not a ruin, and was
inhabited, as it was centuries ago, no one would be content with any
means of arriving at its porte-cochère but a _funiculaire_ or an express
elevator.

The roads about Quillan present some of the most remarkable and
stiffest grades one will find in the Pyrenees. The automobilist doesn't
fear mountain roads as a usual thing. They are frequently much better
graded than the sudden unexpected inclines with which one meets very
often in a comparatively flat country; nevertheless there is a ten
kilometre hairpin hill to climb out of Quillan on the road to Axat which
will try the hauling powers of any automobile yet put on the road, and
the patience of the most dawdling traveller who lingers by the way. It
is the quick turns, the _lacets_, the "hairpins," that make it difficult
and dangerous, whether one goes up or down; and, when it is stated that
slow-moving oxen, two abreast, and often four to a cart, are met with at
every turn, hauling hundred-foot logs down the mountain, the real danger
may well be conceived.

Axat, the gateway to the Haute-Vallée is a dozen or more kilometres
above Quillan, through the marvellous Gorges de Pierre Lys. This is a
canyon which rivals description. The magnificent roadway which runs
close up under the haunches of the towering rocks beside the river Aude
is a work originally undertaken in the eighteenth century by the Abbé
Felix Arnaud, Curé of St. Martin-Lys, a tiny village which one passes
en route. The Abbé Arnaud who planned to cut this remarkable bit of
roadway through the Gorges du Pierre-Lys, formerly a mere trail along
which only smugglers, brigands and army deserters had hitherto dared
penetrate, and who to-day has the distinction of a statue in the Place
at Quillan, was certainly a good engineer. It is to be presumed he was
as good a churchman.

The Aude flows boldly down between two great beaks of mountains, and
here, over-hanging the torrent, the gentle abbé planned that a great
roadway should be cut, by the frequent aid of tunnels and galleries and
"corniches." And it was cut--as it was planned--in a most masterful
manner. One of the rock-cut tunnels is called the "Trou du Curé," and
above its portal are graven the following lines:--

    "Arrête, voyageurs! Le Maître des humains
     A fait descendre ici la force et la lumière.
     Il a dit au Pasteur: Accomplis mon dessein,
     Et le Pasteur des monts a brisé la barrière."

Surely this is a more noble monument to the Abbé Arnaud than that in
marble at Quillan. The actual "Gorge" is not more than fifteen hundred
metres in length, but even this impresses itself more profoundly by
reason of the great height of the rock walls on either side of the
gushing river. At Saint Martin-Lys, midway between Quillan and Axat, is
the church where the Abbé Arnaud served a long and useful life as the
pastor of his mountain flock.

Axat, at the upper end of the Gorge, will become a mountain summer
resort of the very first rank if a boom ever strikes it; but at present
it is simply a delightful little, unspoiled Pyrenean town, where one
eats brook trout and ortolans in the dainty little Hotel Saurel-Labat,
and is lulled to sleep by the purling waters of the Aude directly
beneath his windows. This quiet little town has a population of three
hundred, and is blessed with an electric supply so abundant and so
cheap, apparently, that the good lady who runs the all-satisfying little
hotel does not think it worth while to turn off the lamps even in the
daytime. This is not remarkable when one considers that the electricity
is a home-made product of the power of the swift flowing Aude, which
rushes by Axat's dooryards at five kilometres an hour.

[Illustration: AXAT]

Two kilometres above the town are the Gorges de St. Georges, also with a
superb roadway burrowed out of the rock. Here is the gigantic
_usine-hydro-électrique_ of 6,000 horse-power obtained from a
three-hundred-foot fall of water. That such things could be, here in
this unheard of little corner of the Pyrenees, is far from the minds of
most European travellers who know only the falls of the Rhine at
Schaffhausen. Axat has a ruined château on the height above the town
which is a wonderful ruin although it has no recorded history. To
imagine its romance, however, is not a difficult procedure if you know
the Pyrenees and their history. Its attractions are indeed many; but it
would be a paradise for artists who did not want to go far from their
inn to search their subjects. There are in addition a quaint old
thirteenth-century church, a magnificently arched stone bridge, and
innumerable twisting vaulted passages high aloft near the château.

Away above Axat is the plateau region known as the Capcir, thought to be
the ancient bed of a mountain lake. It is closed on all sides by a great
fringe of mountains, and is comparatively thickly inhabited because of
its particularly good pasture lands; and has the reputation of being the
coldest inhabited region in France, though it may well divide this
honour with the Alpine valleys of the Tarentaise in Savoie. One passes
from the Capcir into the Cerdagne lying to the eastward by the Col de
Casteillon.



CHAPTER IX

THE WALLS OF CARCASSONNE


Never was there an architectural glory like that of Carcassonne. Most
mediæval fortified bourgs have been transformed out of all semblance to
their former selves, but not so Carcassonne. It lives to-day as in the
past, transformed or restored to be sure, but still the very ideal of a
walled city of the Middle Ages.

The stress and cares of commerce and the super-civilization of these
latter days have built up a new and ugly commercial city beyond the
walls, leaving _La Cité_ a lonely dull place where the very spirit of
mediævalism stalks the streets and passages, and the ghosts of a past
time people the château, the donjon, and the surrounding buildings which
once sheltered counts and prelates and chevaliers and courtly ladies.
The old cathedral, too, dedicated to St. Nazaire, as pure a Gothic gem
as may be found outside Sainte Chapelle in Paris, is as much of the past
as if it existed only in memory, for services are now carried on in a
great, gaunt church in the lower town, leaving this magnificent
structure unpeopled and alone.

Carcassonne, as seen from the low-lying plain of the valley of the Aude,
makes a most charming _motif_ for a picture. In the purple background
are the Pyrenees, setting off the crenelated battlements of walls,
towers and donjon in genuine fairy-land fashion. It is almost too
ethereal to be true, as seen through the dim mist of an early May
morning. "A wonderful diadem of chiselled stone set in the forehead of
the Pyrenees," an imaginative Frenchman called it. It would not be wise
to attempt to improve on this metaphor.

This world's wonder--for it is a world's wonder, though not usually
included in the magic seven--has enchanted author, poet, painter,
historian and architect. Who indeed could help giving it the homage due,
once having read Viollet-le-Duc's description in his "Dictionnaire
Raisonée d'Architecture," or Nadaud's lines beginning:--

    "Je n'ai jamais vu Carcassonne."

Five thousand people from all over the world pass its barbican in a
year, and yet how few one recalls among his acquaintances who have ever
been there.

It began to dawn upon the French away back in 1835, at the instigation
of Prosper Merimée, that they had within their frontiers the most
wonderfully impressive walled city still above ground. It was the work
of fifty years to clear its streets and ramparts of a conglomerate mass
of parasite structures which had been built into the old fabric, and to
reconstruct the roofings and copings of walls and houses to an
approximation of what they must once have been.

Carcassonne is not very accessible to the casual tourist to southern
France who thinks to laze away a dull November or January at Pau,
Biarritz, or even on the Riviera. It is not in the least inaccessible,
but it is not on the direct line to anywhere, unless one is en route
from Bordeaux to Marseilles, or is making a Pyrenean trip. At any rate
it is the best value for the money that one will get by going a couple
of hundred kilometres out of his way in the whole circuit of France. By
all means study the map, gentle reader, and see if you can't figure it
out somehow so that you may get to Carcassonne.

Carcassonne, the present city, dates from the days of the good Saint
Louis, but all interest lies with its elder sister, _La Cité_, a bouquet
of walls and towers, just across the eight-hundred-year-old bridge over
the Aude.

Close to the feudal city, across the Pont-Vieux, was the barbican, a
work completed under Saint Louis. It gave immediate access to the city
of antiquity, and defended the approaches to the château after the
manner of an outpost, which it really was. This one learns from the old
plans, but the barbican itself disappeared in 1816.

[Illustration]

Carcassonne was a most effective stronghold and guarded two great routes
which passed directly through it, one the Route de Spain, and the other
running from Toulouse to the Mediterranean, the same that scorching
automobilists "let out" on to-day as they go from one gaming-table at
Monte Carlo to another at Biarritz.

The Romans first made Carcassonne a stronghold; then, from the fifth to
the eighth centuries, came the Visigoths. The Saracens held it for
twenty-five years and their traces are visible to-day. After the
Saracens it came to Charlemagne, and at his death to the Vicomtes de
Carcassonne, independent masters of a neighbouring region, who owed
allegiance to nobody. This was the commencement of the French dynasty of
Trencavel, and the early years of the eleventh century saw the court of
Carcassonne brilliant with troubadours, minstrels and _Cours d'Amour_.
The _Cours d'Amour_ of Adelaide, wife of Roger Trencavel, and niece of
the king of France, were famous throughout the Midi. The followers in
her train--minstrels, troubadours and lords and ladies--were many, and
no one knew or heard of the fair chatelaine of Carcassonne without being
attracted to her.

Simon de Montfort pillaged Carcassonne when raiding the country round
about, but meanwhile the old _Cité_ was growing in strength and
importance, and many were the sieges it underwent which had no effect
whatever on its walls of stone. All epochs are writ large in this
monument of mediævalism. Until the conquest of Roussillon, Carcassonne's
fortress held its proud position as a frontier stronghold; then, during
long centuries, it was all but abandoned, and the modern city grew and
prospered in a matter-of-fact way, though never approaching in the least
detail the architectural magnificence of its hill-top sister.

The military arts of the Middle Ages are as well exemplified at
Carcassonne as can anywhere be seen out of books and engravings. The
entrance is strongly protected by many twistings and turnings of walled
alleys, producing a veritable maze. The Porte d'Aude is the chief
entrance, and is accessible only to those on foot. Verily, the walls
seem to close behind the visitor as he makes his way to the topmost
height, up the narrow cobble-paved lanes. Four great gates, one within
another, and four walls have to be passed before one is properly within
the outer defences. To enter the _Cité_ there is yet another encircling
wall to be passed.

Carcassonne is practically a double fortress; the distance around the
outer walls is a kilometre and a half and the inner wall is a full
kilometre in circumference. Between these fortifying ramparts unroll
the narrow ribbons of roadway which a foe would find impossible to pass.

[Illustration: _The Walls of Carcassonne_]

Finally, within the last line of defence, on the tiny wall-surrounded
plateau, rises the old Château de Trencavel, its high coiffed towers
rising into the azure sky of the Midi in most spectacular fashion. On
the crest of the inner wall is a little footpath, known in warlike times
as the _chemin de ronde_, punctuated by forty-eight towers. From such an
unobstructed balcony a marvellous surrounding panorama unrolls itself;
at one's feet lie the plain and the river; further off can be seen the
mountains and sometimes the silver haze shimmering over the
Mediterranean fifty miles away. Centuries of civilization are at one's
hand and within one's view.

A curious tower--one of the forty-eight--spans the two outer walls. It
is known as the Tour l'Évêque and possesses a very beautiful glass
window. Here Viollet-le-Duc established his bureau when engaged on the
reconstruction of this great work.

Almost opposite, quite on the other side of the _Cité_, is the Porte
Narbonnaise, the only way by which a carriage may enter. One rises
gently to the plateau, after first passing this monumental gateway,
which is flanked by two towers. Over the Porte Narbonnaise is a rude
stone figure of Dame Carcas, the titular goddess of the city. Quaint and
curious this figure is, but possessed of absolutely no artistic aspect.
Below it are the simple words, "Sum Carcas."

The Tour Bernard, just to the right of the Porte Narbonnaise, is a
mediæval curiosity. The records tell that it has served as a
chicken-coop, a dog-kennel, a pigeon loft, and as the habitation of the
guardian who had charge of the gate. Here in the walls of this great
tower may still be seen solid stone shot firmly imbedded where they
first struck. The next tower, the Tour de Benazet, was the arsenal, and
the Tour Notre Dame, above the Porte de Rodez, was the scene of more
than one "inquisitorial" burning of Christians.

The second line of defence and its towers is quite as curiously
interesting as the first.

From within, the Porte Narbonnaise was protected in a remarkable manner,
the Château Narbonnaise commanding with its own barbican and walls every
foot of the way from the gate to the château proper. Besides, there were
iron chains stretched across the passage, low vaulted corridors,
wolf-traps (or something very like them) set in the ground, and
loop-holes in the roofs overhead for pouring down boiling oil or melted
lead on the heads of any invaders who might finally have got so far as
this.

The château itself, so safely ensconced within the surrounding walls of
the _Cité_, follows the common feudal usage as to its construction. Its
outer walls are strengthened and defended by a series of turrets, and
contain within a _cour d'honneur_, the place of reunion for the
armour-knights and the contestants in the Courts of Love.

On the ground floor of this dainty bit of mediævalism--which looks
livable even to-day--were the seigneurial apartments, the chapel and
various domestic offices. Beneath were vast stores and magazines. A
smaller courtyard was at the rear, leading to the fencing-school and the
kitchens, two important accessories of a feudal château which seem
always to go side by side.

On the first and second floors were the lodgings of the vicomtes and
their suites. The great donjon contained a circular chamber where were
held great solemnities such as the signing of treaties, marriage acts
and the like. To the west of the _cour d'honneur_ were the barracks of
the garrison. All the paraphernalia and machinery of a great mediæval
court were here perfectly disposed. Verily, no such story-telling feudal
château exists as that of the Château de Narbonnais of the Trencavels in
the old _Cité_ of Carcassonne.

The Place du Château, immediately in front, was a general meeting-place,
while a little to the left in a smaller square has always been the well
of bubbling spring-water which on more than one occasion saved the
dwellers within from dying of thirst.

Perhaps, as at Pompeii, there are great treasures here still buried
underground, but diligent search has found nothing but a few arrowheads
or spear heads, some pieces of money (money was even coined here) and a
few fragments of broken copper and pottery utensils.

Finally, to sum up the opinion of one and all who have viewed
Carcassonne, there is not a city in all Europe more nearly complete in
ancient constructions, or in better preservation, than this old mediæval
_Cité_. Centuries of history have left indelible records in stone, and
they have been defiled less than in any other mediæval monument of such
a magnitude.

Gustave Nadaud's lines on Carcassonne come very near to being the
finest topographical verses ever penned. Certainly there is no finer
expression of truth and sentiment with regard to any architectural
monument existing than the simple realism of the speech of the old
peasant of Limoux:--

    "'I'm sixty years; I'm getting old;
       I've done hard work through all my life,
     Though yet could never grasp and hold
       My heart's desire through all my strife.
     I know quite well that here below
       All one's desires are granted none;
     My wish will ne'er fulfilment know,
       I never have seen Carcassonne."

           *       *       *       *       *

    "'They say that all the days are there
       As Sunday is throughout the week:
     New dress, and robes all white and fair
         Unending holidays bespeak.'

           *       *       *       *       *

    "'O! God, O! God, O! pardon me,
       If this my prayer should'st Thou offend!
     Things still too great for us we'd see
       In youth or near one's long life end.
     My wife once and my son Aignan,
       As far have travelled as Narbonne,
     My grandson has seen Perpignan,
       But I have not seen Carcassonne.'"

What emotion, what devotion these lines express, and what a picture they
paint of the simple faiths and hopes of man. He never did see
Carcassonne, this old peasant of Limoux; the following lines tell why:--

    "Thus did complain once near Limoux
       A peasant hard bowed down with age.
     I said to him, 'My friend, we'll go
       Together on this pilgrimage.'
     We started with the morning tide;
       But God forgive. We'd hardly gone
     Our road half over, ere he died.
       He never did see Carcassonne."

In August, 1898, a great fête and illumination was given in the old
_Cité de Carcassonne_. All the illustrious Languedoçians alive, it would
seem, were there, including the _Cadets de Gascogne_, among them Armand
Sylvestre, D'Esparbès, Jean Rameau, Emil Pouvillon, Benjamin Constant,
Eugène Falguière, Mercier, Jean-Paul Laurens, et als.

All the artifice of the modern pyrotechnist made of the old city, at
night, a reproduction of what it must have been in times of war and
stress. It was the most splendid fireworks exhibition the world has seen
since Nero fiddled away at burning Rome. "_La Cité Rouge_," Sylvestre
called it. "_Oh, l'impression inoubliable! Oh! le splendide tableau! It
was so perfectly beautiful, so completely magnificent! I have seen the
Kremlin thus illuminated; I have seen old Nuremberg under the same
conditions, but I declare upon my honour never have I seen so beautiful
a sight as the illuminations of Carcassonne."_

One view of the _Cité_ not often had is from the Montagne Noire, where,
from its supreme height of twelve hundred metres (the Pic de Nore) there
is to be seen such a bird's-eye view as was never conceived by the
imagination. On the horizon are the blue peaks of the Pyrenees cutting
the sky with astonishing clearness; to the eastward is the
Mediterranean; and northwards are the Cevennes; while immediately below
is a wide-spread plain peopled here and there with tiny villages and
farms all clustering around the solid walls of Carcassonne--the _Ville_
of to-day and the _Cité_ of the past.

Over the blue hills, southward from Carcassonne, lies Limoux. Limoux is
famous for three things, its twelfth-century church, its
fifteenth-century bridge and its "_blanquette de Limoux_," less ancient,
but quite as enduring.

If one's hunger is ripe, he samples the last first, at the table d'hôte
at the Hotel du Pigeon. "Blanquette de Limoux" is simply an ordinarily
good white, sparkling wine, no better than Saumur, but much better than
the hocks which have lately become popular in England, and much, much
better than American champagne. The town itself is charming, and the
immediate environs, the peasants' cottages and the vineyards, recall
those verses of Nadaud's about that old son of the soil who prayed each
year that he might make the journey over the hills to Carcassonne (it is
only twenty-four kilometres) and refresh his old eyes with a sight of
that glorious mediæval monument.

North of Carcassonne, between the city and the peak of the Montagne
Noire, is the old château of Lastours, a ruined glory of the days when
only a hill-top situation and heavy walls meant safety and long life.



CHAPTER X

THE COUNTS OF FOIX


The Comté de Foix and its civilization goes back to prehistoric, Gallic
and Roman times. This much we know, but what the detailed events of
these periods were, we know not. Archæology alone, by means of remaining
monuments in stone, must supply that which history omits. The primitives
of the stone age lived mostly in caverns, but here they lived in some
species of rude huts or houses. This at any rate is the supposition.
With the Romans came civic importance; and fortified towns and cities
sprang up here and there of which existing remains, as at St. Lizier,
tell a plain story.

The principal historical events of the early years of the Middle Ages
were religious in motive. Written records are few, however, and are
mostly legendary accounts. Dynasties of great families began to be
founded in the ninth century; and each region took on different manners
and customs. The Couserans, a dismemberment of Comminges, became
practically Gascon; while Foix cast off from Toulouse, had its own
development. Victor Balaguer, the poet, expresses this better than most
historians when he says: "_Provence et Pyrénées, s'écriet-il, portent le
deuil du monde latin. Le jour où tombèrent ceux de Foix tomba aussi la
Provence_."

The resistance of the counts in the famous wars of the Albigeois only
provoked the incursion of the troops of the cruel Simon de Montfort. The
Comte de Foix fell back finally on his strong château; and, on the
sixteenth of June, 1229, in the presence of the papal legate,
representative of the king of France, Roger-Bernard II made his
submission without reserve.

In 1272, under Comte Roger-Bernard III, the Château de Foix underwent a
siege at the hands of Philippe-le-Hardi; and, at the end of three days,
seeing the preponderance of numbers against him, and being doubtful of
his allies, he surrendered. By marriage with Marguerite de Moncade,
daughter of the Vicomte de Béarn, he inherited the two important fiefs
of Catalogne and Béarn et Bigorre, thus preparing the way for possession
of the throne of Navarre. By the thirteenth century the great feudal
families of the Midi were dwindling in numbers, and it was this
marriage of a Comte de Foix with the heiress of Béarn which caused
practically the extinction of one.

The modern department of the Ariège, of which the ancient Comté de Foix
formed the chief part, possesses few historical monuments dating before
the Middle Ages. There are numerous residential châteaux scattered
about, and the most splendid of them all is at Foix itself. Fine old
churches and monasteries, and quaint old houses are numerous; yet it is
a region less exploited by tourists than any other in France.

Not all these historic shrines remain to-day unspoiled and untouched.
Many of them were destroyed in the Revolution, but their sites and their
ruins remain. The mountain slopes of this region are thickly strewn with
watch-towers and observatories; and though all but fallen to the ground
they form a series of connecting historical links which only have to be
recognized to be read. The towers or châteaux of Quié, Tarascon-sur-Ariège,
Gudanne, Lourdat and Vic-Dessos are almost unknown to most travellers.
They deserve to become better known, however, especially Lourdat, one
of the most spectacularly endowed château ruins extant.

The fourteenth century was the most brilliant in the history of Foix.
These were the days of Gaston Phoebus; and the description of his
reception of Charles VI of France at Mazères, as given by the
chroniclers, indicates an incomparable splendour and magnificence.
Gaston Phoebus, like Henri de Béarn, was what might be called a good
liver. Here is how he spent his day--when he was not warring or building
castles. He rose at noon and after a mass he dined. Usually there were a
great number of dishes; and, on really great occasions, as on a fête or
_festin_, the incredible number of two hundred and fifty. These princes
of the Pyrenees loved good cheer, and their usage was to surcharge the
tables and themselves with the good things until the results were
uncomfortable. Gaston's two sons, Yvain and Gratain, usually stood
behind him at table, and the youngest son, another Gaston, first tried
all the dishes before his august father ate of them. He was weak and
sickly, a "mild and melancholy figure," and no wonder! The feasting
terminated, Gaston and his court would pass into the Salle de Parlement,
"where many things were debated," as the chroniclers put it. Soon
entered the minstrels and troubadours, while in the courts there were
trials of skill between the nobles of one house and another, stone
throwing, throwing the spear, and the _jeu de paume_. The
count--"_toujours magnifique_" (no chronicler of the time neglects to
mention that fact)--distributed rewards to the victors. After this there
was more eating, or at least more drinking.

When he was not sleeping or eating or amusing himself, or conducting
such affairs as he could not well depute to another, such as the
planning and building of castles, Gaston occupied himself, like many
other princes of his time, with belles-lettres and poesy. He had four
_secrétaires_ to do his writing; and it is possible that they may have
written much which is attributed to him, if the art of employing
literary "ghosts" was known in that day. He composed _chansons_,
_ballades_, _rondeaux_ and _virelais_, and insisted on reading them
aloud himself, forbidding any one to make a comment on them. How many
another author would like to have the same prerogative!

Gaston Phoebus de Foix, so named because of his classic beauty, was
undoubtedly a great author in his day. This bold warrior wrote a book on
the manners and usage of hunting in mediæval times, entitled the
"_Miroir de Phoebus_;" and, while it might not pass muster among the
masterpieces of later French literature, it was a notable work for its
time and literally a mirror of contemporary men and manners in the
hunting field.

Gaston de Foix was another gallant noble. He died at the age of
twenty-four at the Battle of Ravenna in 1512. Jacques Fournier, who
became Pope Benoit XII, also came from Foix.

The honour of being the most celebrated of the Counts of Foix may well
be divided by Gaston Phoebus (1343-1390) and Henri Quatre (1553-1610).
The latter was the last of the famous counts of the province; and he it
was who united it with the royal domain of France, thus sinking its
identity for ever, though his predecessors had done their utmost to keep
its independence alive.

During the Hundred Years War the Comtes de Foix, masters of the entire
middle chain of the Pyrenees, were the strongest power in the southwest;
and above all were they powerful because of their alliances and
relations with the Spanish princes, whose friendship and aid were
greatly to be desired, for their support meant success for their allies.
This is proven, absolutely, from the fact that, when the English were
ultimately driven from France, it was through the aid and support of
Gaston Phoebus himself and his successors, Archambaud, Jean I and
Gaston IV.

The fifteenth century saw the apogee of the house of Foix. One of its
princes married Madeleine de France, sister of Louis XI. The sixteenth
century saw sad times during a long civil war of more than thirty years
duration. War among the members of a household or among one's own people
is really an inexcusable thing. In the Comté the Abbey of Boulbonne was
destroyed. At Pamiers all the religious edifices were razed; and the
Abbey of St. Volusien at Foix, the special pride of the counts for ages,
was destroyed by fire.

Calm came for a period under the reign of Henri IV, at Paris; but, after
his death, local troubles and dissensions broke out again, inspired and
instigated by the wily Duc de Rohan, which culminated at Pamiers, where
the great Condé and Montmorenci appeared at the head of their troops.

The peace of Alais ended this final struggle; and, to assure the
security of the country, Richelieu gave the order to dismantle all the
walls and ramparts of the fortified places in the Comté, and all the
châteaux-forts as well. This was done forthwith, and that is why many a
mediæval château in these parts is in ruins to-day. The Château de
Foix, by reason of its dignity, was allowed to keep its towers and
battlemented walls.

For a hundred and fifty years, that is up to the Revolution, Foix was
comparatively tranquil. Under the reign of Louis XIV, however, the
region saw the frequent passage of troops and warlike stores as they
came and went to the Spanish wars. This nearly ruined many dwellers in
town and country by reason of the tax they had to pay in money and
provisions.

Like the Basques and the Béarnais the inhabitants of the Ariège, the
descendants of the old adherents of the Comtes de Foix, bear many traces
of their former independence and liberty. Civilization and their easy,
comfortable manner of living have not made of them a very robust race,
but they are possessed of much fairness of face and figure and
gentleness of manner.

The smugglers of feudal times, and considerably later times for that
matter, were the pest of the region. It was rude, hard work smuggling
wines or tobacco over the mountains, in and out of Spain, and its wages
were uncertain, but there were large numbers who embarked on it in
preference to grazing flocks and herds or engaging in other
agricultural pursuits.

It was hard work for the smugglers of Foix to get their burdens up the
mountains, but they had a custom of rolling their load up into great
balls bound around with wool and thongs and rolling them down the other
side. Thus the labour was halved. The _Romany chiel_ or gypsy adopted
the contraband business readily; and with the competition of the French
and Spanish, there were lively times on the frontier between Foix and
Gascogne and Spain and Andorra.

M. Thiers recounts an adventure in an auberge of the Pyrenees with such
a crew of bandits, and thought himself lucky to escape with his life.

The chief of the band, as the travellers were all sitting around the
great log fire, began cleaning his pipe with a long poignard-like knife
which, he volunteered, was ready to do other service than whittling
bread or tobacco if need be. The night passed off safely enough by
reason of the arrival of a squad of gendarmes, but the next night a
whole house full of travellers were murdered on the same spot.

The roads of the old Comté de Foix, a very important thing for many who
travel by automobile, are throughout excellent and extensive. There are
fourteen Routes Nationales and Départementales crossing in every
direction. The highway from Toulouse to Madrid runs via St. Girons and
Bayonne into Andorra by way of the valley of the Ariège, and to
Barcelona via Perpignan and the Col de Perthus.

The valley of the Ariège, to a large extent included in the Comté de
Foix, has a better preserved historical record than its neighbours on
the east and west.

In the ninth century the ruling comte was allied with the houses of
Barcelona and Carcassonne. His residence was at Foix from this time up
to the Revolution; and his rule embraced the valley of the Hers, of
which Mirepoix was the principal place, the mountain region taken from
Catalogne, and a part of the lowlands which had been under the scrutiny
of the Comtes de Toulouse.



CHAPTER XI

FOIX AND ITS CHÂTEAU


Foix, of all the Préfectures of France of to-day, is the least
cosmopolitan. Privas, Mende and Digne are poor, dead, dignified relics
of the past; but Foix is the dullest of all, although it is a very gem
of a smiling, diffident little wisp of a city, green and flowery and
astonishingly picturesque. It has character, whatever it may lack in
progressiveness, and the brilliant colouring is a part of all the cities
of the South.

Above the swift flowing Ariège in their superb setting of mountain and
forest are the towers and parapets of the old château, in itself enough
to make the name and fame of any city.

Architecturally the remains of the Château de Foix do not, perhaps, rank
very high, though they are undeniably imposing; and it will take a
review of Froissart, and the other old chroniclers of the life and times
of the magnificent Gaston Phoebus, to revive it in all its glory. A
great state residence something more than a mere feudal château, it
does not at all partake of the aspect of a château-fort. It was this
last fact that caused the Comtes de Foix, when, by marriage, they had
also become seigneurs of Béarn, to abandon it for Mazères, or their
establishments at Pau or Orthez.

Foix nevertheless remained a proud capital, first independent, then as
part of the province of Navarre, then as a province of the Royaume de
France; and, finally, as the Préfecture of the Département of Ariège.
The population in later times has grown steadily, but never has the city
approached the bishopric of Pamiers, just to the northward, in
importance.

Many towns in this region have a decreasing population. The great cities
like Toulouse and Bordeaux draw upon the youth of the country for
domestic employment; and, lately, as chauffeurs and manicurists, and in
comparison to these inducements their native towns can offer very
little.

If one is to believe the tradition of antiquity the "_Rocher de Foix_,"
the tiny rock plateau upon which the château sits, served as an outpost
when the Phoceans built the primitive château upon the same site. Says a
Renaissance historian: "On the peak of one of nature's wonders, on a
rock, steep and inaccessible on all sides, was situated one of the most
ancient fortresses of our land."

In Roman times the site still held its own as one of importance and
impregnability. A representation of the château as it then was is to be
seen on certain coins of the period. This establishes its existence as
previous to the coming of the Visigoths in the beginning of the sixth
century. The first written records of the Château de Foix date from the
chronicles of 1002, when Roger-le-Vieux, Comte de Carcassonne, left to
his heir, Bernard-Roger, "_La Terre et le Château de Foix_."

The Château de Foix owes its reputation to its astonishingly theatrical
site as much as to the historic memories which it evokes, though it is
with good right that it claims a legendary renown among the feudal
monuments of the Pyrenees. All roads leading to Foix give a long vista
of its towered and crenelated château sitting proudly on its own little
_monticule_ of rock beside the Ariège. Its history begins with that of
the first Comtes de Foix, the first charter making mention thereof being
the last will and testament of Roger-Bernard, the first count, who died
in 1002.

During the wars against the Albigeois the château was attacked by Simon
de Montfort three times, in 1210, 1212, 1213, but always in vain.
Though the surrounding faubourgs were pillaged and burned the château
itself did not succumb. It did not even take fire, for its rocky base
gave no hold to the flames which burned so fiercely around it.

The most important event of the château's history happened in 1272 when
the Comte Roger-Bernard III rebelled against the authority of the
Seneschal-Royal of Toulouse. To punish so rebellious a vassal,
Philippe-le-Hardi came forthwith to Foix at the head of an army, and
himself undertook the siege of the château. At the end of three days the
count succumbed, with the saying on his lips that it was useless to cut
great stones and build them up into fortresses only to have them razed
by the first besiegers that came along. Whatever the qualifications of
the third Roger-Bernard were, consistent perseverance was not one of
them.

Just previous to 1215, after a series of intrigues with the church
authorities, the château became a dependence of the Pope of Rome; but at
a council of the Lateran the Comte Raymond-Roger demanded the justice
that was his, and the new Pope Honorius III made over the edifice to its
rightful proprietor.

During the wars of religion the château was the storm-centre of great
military operations, of which the town itself became the unwilling
victim. In 1561 the Huguenots became masters of the city.

Under Louis XIII it was proposed to raze the château, as was being done
with others in the Midi, but the intervening appeal of the governor
saved its romantic walls to posterity. In the reign of Louis XIV the
towers of the château were used as archives, a prison and a military
barracks, and since the Revolution--for a part of the time at least--it
has served as a house of detention. When the tragic events of the
Reformation set all the Midi ablaze, and Richelieu and his followers
demolished most of the châteaux and fortresses of the region, Foix was
exempted by special orders of the Cardinal-Minister himself.

Another war cloud sprang up on the horizon in 1814, by reason of the
fear of a Spanish invasion; and it was not a bogey either, for in 1811
and 1812 the Spaniards had already penetrated, by a quickly planned
raid, into the high valley of the Ariège.

In 1825 civil administration robbed this fine old example of mediæval
architecture of many of those features usually exploited by
antiquarians. To increase its capacity for sheltering criminal
prisoners, barracks and additions--mere shacks many of them--were built;
and the original outlines were lost in a maze of meaningless roof-tops.
Finally, a quarter of a century later, the rubbish was cleared away;
and, before the end of the century, restoration of the true and faithful
kind had made of this noble mediæval monument a vivid reminder of its
past feudal glory quite in keeping with its history.

[Illustration: _Ground Plan of the Château de Foix_]

The actual age of the monument covers many epochs. The two square towers
and the main edifice, as seen to-day, are anterior to the thirteenth
century, as is proved by the design in the seals of the Comtes de Foix
of 1215 and 1241 now in the _Bibliothèque Nationale_ in Paris. In
the fourteenth century these towers were strengthened and enlarged with
the idea of making them more effective for defence and habitation.

[Illustration: CHÂTEAU DE FOIX]

The escutcheons of Foix, Béarn and Comminges, to be seen in the great
central tower, indicate that it, too, goes back at least to the end of
the fourteenth century, when Eleanore de Comminges, the mother of Gaston
Phoebus, ruled the Comté.

[Illustration: _Key of the Vaulting, Château de Foix. Showing the Arms
of the Comtes de Foix_]

The donjon or _Tour Ronde_ arises on the west to a height of forty-two
metres; and will be remarked by all familiar with these sermons in stone
scattered all over France as one of the most graceful. Legend attributes
it to Gaston Phoebus; but all authorities do not agree as to this. The
window and door openings, the mouldings, the accolade over the entrance
doorway and the machicoulis all denote that they belong to the latter
half of the fifteenth century. These, however, may be later
interpolations.

Originally one entered the château from exactly the opposite side from
that used to-day. The slope leading up to the rock and swinging around
in front of the town is an addition of recent years. Formerly the
plateau was gained by a rugged path which finally entered the precincts
of the fortress through a rectangular barbican.

Finally, to sum it up, the pleasant, smiling, trim little city of Foix,
and its château rising romantically above it, form a delightful
prospect. Well preserved, well protected, and for ever free from further
desecration, the Château de Foix is as nobly impressive and glorious a
monument of the Middle Ages as may be found in France, as well as chief
record of the gallant days of the Comtes de Foix.

Foix' Palais de Justice, built back to back with the rock foundations of
the château, is itself a singular piece of architecture containing a
small collection of local antiquities. This old Maison des Gouverneurs,
now the Palais de Justice, is a banal, unlovely thing, regardless of its
high-sounding titles.

In the Bibliothèque, in the Hôtel de Ville, there are eight manuscripts
in folio, dating from the fifteenth century, and coming from the
Cathedral of Mirepoix. They are exquisitely illuminated with miniatures
and initials after the manner of the best work of the time.

It was that great hunter and warrior, Gaston Phoebus who gave the
Château de Foix its greatest lustre.

It was here that this most brilliant and most celebrated of the counts
passed his youth; and it was from here that he set out on his famous
expedition to aid his brother knights of the Teutonic Order in Prussia.
At Gaston's orders the Comte d'Armagnac was imprisoned here, to be
released after the payment of a heavy ransom. As to the motive for this
particular act authorities differ as to whether it was the fortunes of
war or mere brigandage.

They lived high, the nobles of the old days, and Froissart recounts a
banquet at which he had assisted at Foix, in the sixteenth century, as
follows:--

"And this was what I saw in the Comté de Foix: The Count left his
chamber to sup at midnight, the way to the great salle being led by
twelve varlets, bearing twelve illumined torches. The great hall was
crowded with knights and equerries, and those who would supped, saying
nothing meanwhile. Mostly game seemed to be the favourite viand, and the
legs and wings only of fowl were eaten. Music and chants were the
invariable accompaniment, and the company remained at table until after
two in the morning. Little or nothing was drunk."

Froissart's description of the table is simple enough, but he develops
into melodrama when he describes how the count killed his own son on the
same night--a tragic ending indeed to a brilliant banquet. "'Ha!
traitor,' the Comte said in the _patois_, as he entered his sleeping
son's chamber; 'why do you not sup with us? He is surely a traitor who
will not join at table.' And with a swift, but gentle drawing of his
_coutel_ (knife) across his successor's throat he calmly went back to
supper." Truly, there were high doings when knights were bold and
barons held their sway. They could combat successfully everything but
treachery; but the mere suspicion of that prompted them to take time by
the forelock and become traitors themselves.

Foix has a fête on the eighth and ninth of September each year, which is
the delight of all the people of the country round about. Its chief
centre is the Allées de Vilote, a great tree-shaded promenade at the
base of the château. It is brilliantly lively in the daytime, and
fairy-like at night, with its trees all hung with great globes of light.

A grand ball is the chief event, and the "Quadrille Officiel" is opened
with the maire and the préfet at the head. After this comes _la fête
générale_, when the happy southrons know no limit to their gaieties.
There are three great shaded promenades, and in each is a ball with its
attendant music. It is a pandemonium; and one has to be habituated to
distinguish the notes of one blaring band from the others. The central
park is reserved for the country folk, that on the left for the town
folk, and that on the right for the nobility. This, at any rate, was the
disposition in times past, and some sort of distinction is still made.

In suburban Foix, out on the road to Pamiers, is the little village of
St. Jean-de-Vergues. It has a history, of course, but not much else. It
is a mere spot on the map, a mere cluster of houses on the _Grande
Route_ and nothing more. In the days of the Comte Roger-Bernard,
however, when he would treat with the king of France, and showed his
willingness to become a vassal, its inhabitants held out beyond all
others for an "_indépendance comtale_." They didn't get it, to be sure,
but with the arrival of Henri Quatre on the throne of France, the
vassalage became more friendly than enforced.



CHAPTER XII

THE VALLEY OF THE ARIÈGE


The entire valley of the Ariège, from the Val d'Andorre until it empties
into the Garonne at Toulouse, contains as many historic and romantic
reminders as that of any river of the same length in France.

Saverdun and Mazères, between Toulouse and Pamiers, and perhaps fifty
kilometres north of Foix, must be omitted from no historical trip in
these parts. Saverdun sits close beside one of the few remaining columns
which formerly marked the boundary between Languedoc and Gascogne, a
veritable historical guide-post. It was one of the former fortified
towns of the Comté de Foix. It is an unimportant and unattractive enough
place to-day, if a little country town of France can ever be called
unattractive, but it is the head centre of innumerable châteaux and
country houses of other days hidden away on the banks of the Ariège.
Mostly they are without a traceable history, but everything points to
the fact that they played an important part in the golden days of
chivalry, and such names as l'Avocat-Vieux, Frayras, Larlenque, Madron,
Pauliac and Le Vigne--the oldtime manor of the family of Mauvasin--will
suggest much to any who know well their mediæval history.

A diligence runs to-day from Saverdun to Mazères, the birthplace of the
gorgeous and gallant Gaston of Foix, the hero of Ravenna. Mazères is a
most ancient little town, built on the banks of a small river, the Hers,
and in the thirteenth century was surrounded by important
fortifications, now mostly gone to build up modern garden walls. Around
the old ramparts has been laid out a series of encircling boulevards,
which, as an expression of civic improvement, is far and away ahead of
the squares and circles of new western towns in America. The encircling
boulevard is one, if not the chief, charm of very many French towns.

The ruins of the ancient château where was born the celebrated Gaston
are still seen, but nothing habitable is left to suggest the luxury amid
which the youth was brought up. Near by are the châteaux of Nogarède and
Nassaure, each of them reminiscent of family names writ large in the
history of Foix.

Another dozen kilometres southward towards Foix is Pamiers. It is
extremely probable that provincial France has changed its manners
considerably since the Revolution, but one can hardly believe of
Pamiers, to-day a delightful little valley town, all green and red and
brown, that a traveller with a jaundiced eye once called it "an ugly,
stinking, ill-built hole with an inn--_of sorts_," This is not the
aspect of the city, nor does it describe the Hôtel Catala.

Pamiers owes its origin to the erection of a feudal château by Comte
Roger II on his return from the Holy Land, and which he called _Apamea_
or _Apamia_, in memory of his visit to _Apamée_ in Syria. Evolution has
readily transformed the name into Pamiers. Virtually, so far as its
lands went, the place belonged to a neighbouring abbey, but as the monks
were forced to call upon the Comtes de Foix to aid them in protecting
their property from the Comtes de Carcassonne, the title rights soon
passed to the ruling house of Foix. In 1628 Condé pillaged and sacked
the city, and not a vestige now remains of its once proud château, save
such portions as may have been built into and hidden in other
structures. The site of the old château is preserved in the memory only
by the name of Castellat, which has been given to a singularly
beautiful little park and promenade.

It was in the thirteenth century that a Bishop of Pamiers, the legate of
Pope Boniface VIII, insulted Philippe-le-Bel in full audience of his
parlément. The king, resentful, drove him from the council, and a Bull
of Pope Boniface delivered the bishop to an ecclesiastical tribunal. So
far, so good, but Boniface issued another Bull demanding that the king
of France submit to papal power in matters temporal as well as in
matters spiritual. Thus a pretty quarrel ensued, beginning with the
famous letter from the king, which opened thus: "Philippe, by the grace
of God, King of the French, to Boniface, the pretended Pope, has little
or no reason for homage...."

Pamiers itself is a dull little provincial cathedral town, lying low in
a circle of surrounding hills. Its churches are historically famous, and
architecturally varied and beautiful, and the octagonal belfry of its
cathedral (1512), in the style known as "_Gothic-Toulousain_," is
particularly admirable.

Mirepoix, a dozen kilometres east of Pamiers, is interesting. The
Seigneurie of Mirepoix became an appanage of Guy de Levis, maréchal in
the army of Simon de Montfort in the thirteenth century, but the
legislators of Revolutionary times, disregarding the usage of five
centuries, coupled the control of the affairs of the region with those
of Foix, from which it had indeed been separated long ages before.

Mirepoix has, nevertheless, an individuality and a history quite its
own. In 1317 it was made a bishopric, and was under the immediate
control of the Seneschalship of Carcassonne. It had, by parent right, a
certain attachment for Foix, but by the popular consent of its people
none at all; thus it lay practically under the sheltering wing of
Languedoc.

The descendants of Guy de Levis were distinguished in the army, in
diplomacy and held many public offices of trust at Paris. Under Louis XV
the last representative of the family was made a "Duc, Maréchal de
France et Gouverneur de Languedoc." It was his cousin, François de
Levis-Ajac (from whom Levis opposite Quebec got its name), who became
also Maréchal de France, and illustrious by reason of his defence of
Canada.

The Château de Montségur, in the valley of the Hers, was the scene of
the last stand of the Albigeois tracked to their death by the
inquisitors.

Just westward of Foix is La Bastide-de-Serou, founded in 1254, another
of those ancient bastides with which this part of the Midi was covered
in mediæval times. To-day it is a mere nothing on the map, and not much
more in reality, a dull, sad town, whose only liveliness comes from the
exploitations of a company whose business it is to dig phosphate and
bauxite from the hillsides round about.

Below La Bastide is the Château de Bourdette, charmingly set about with
vines in a genuine pastoral fashion. For a neighbour, not far away,
there is also the Château de Rodes, set in the midst of a forest of
mountain ash and quite isolated. Either, if they are ever put on the
market (for they are inhabitable to-day), would make a good retiring
spot for one who wanted to escape the strenuous cares and hurly-burly of
city life.

South of Foix is Tarascon-sur-Ariège, a name which has a familiar sound
to lovers of fiction and readers of Daudet. It was not at
Tarascon-sur-Ariège where lived Daudet's estimable bachelor, Tartarin,
but Tarascon-sur-Rhône in Provence. Daudet pulled the latter smug little
town from obscurity and oblivion--even though the inhabitants said that
he had slandered them--but nothing has happened that gives
distinction to the Tarascon of the Pyrenees since the days when its
seigneurs inhabited its château.

[Illustration: _Tarascon-sur-Ariège_]

Reminders of the town's mediæval importance are few indeed, and of its
château only a lone round tower remains. There are two fortified
gateways in the town still above ground, and two thirteenth-century
church towers which take rank as admirable mediæval monuments.

Tarascon was one of the four principal fortified towns of the Comté de
Foix, but suffered by fire, and for ever since has languished and dozed
its days away, so that not even a passing automobile will wake its
dwellers from their somnolence. Tarascon has a fine and picturesque
bridge over the Ariège which intrudes itself in the foreground from
almost every view-point. It is not old, however, but the work of the
last century.

Here nearly everything is of the mouldy past and rusty with age and
tradition, though there is a local iron industry something considerable
in extent.

The highroad from Foix into Andorra cuts the town directly in halves,
and on either side are narrow, climbing streets running up the hillside
from the river bank, but architectural or topographical changes have
been few since the olden times. Tarascon's population--though the place
is the market town of the commune--has, in a hundred years, fallen from
fifteen hundred to fourteen hundred and forty five, to give exact
statistical figures, which are supposed not to lie. Such observations in
France really prove nothing, not even that signs of progress are
wanting, nor that folk are less prosperous; they simply suggest that its
cities and towns are self-satisfied and content, and are not ambitious
to outdistance their neighbours in alleged civic improvements of
doubtful taste--always at the tax-payers' expense.

Tarascon of itself might well be omitted from a Pyrenean itinerary, but
when one includes the neighbouring church of Notre Dame de Sabart--a
place of pilgrimage for the faithful of the whole region of the Pyrenees
on the eighth and fifteenth of September--the case were different. It is
one of the sights and shrines of the region, as is that of Stes.
Maries-de-la-Mer in Provence, or Notre Dame de Laghat in the old Comté
de Nice.

The old abbey-fortress built here by Charlemagne has disappeared, but
the great Romanesque church, with its three great naves, is avowedly
built up from the remains of the former edifice. Most of Charlemagne's
handiwork has vanished throughout his kingdom, but the foundations
remain, here and there, and upon them has been built all that is best
and most enduring in Gaul.

In the environs it was planned to make a great centre of affairs, but
destiny and the Comtes de Foix ruled otherwise, though, curiously
enough, up to the Revolution the "_Prétres de Sabart_" ruled with an
iron-bound supremacy many of the affairs of neighbouring parishes which
were no business of theirs. It was church and state again in conflict,
but the Revolution finished that for the time being.

Like many of the _pardons_ of Brittany, or the fête of Les Saintes
Maries in Provence, the fête of Notre Dame de Sabart commences as a
religious function, but degenerates finally into a _Fête Profane_, with
dancing, bull-baiting, and eating and drinking to the full. It is
perhaps not a wholly immoral aspect that the fête takes on; certainly
the participants do not act in any manner outrageous; but by contrast
the thing is bound to be remarked by westerners, and probably misjudged
and set down as something worse than it is. Bull-baiting, for instance,
sounds bad, but when one learns that it consists only of trying to
snatch a ribbon rosette from between the bull's horns--for a prize of
three francs for a blue one, and five francs for a red one, the bull
carrying the red rosette being, supposedly, more vicious and savage than
the others--the whole thing resolves itself into a simple, harmless
amusement, far more dangerous for the amateur rosette picker than the
bull, who really seems to enjoy it.

Vic Dessos, just southwest of Tarascon, is a quaint little mountain
town, with the ruins of the Château de Montréal and a twelfth-century
church as attractions for the traveller. The savage surroundings of Vic,
the denuded mountain peaks, and the deep valleys, bring tempests and
thunderstorms in their train with astonishing violence and frequency.
The clouds roll down like a pall, suddenly, at any time of the year, and
as quickly pass away again. The phenomena have been remarked by many
travellers in times past, and one need not fear missing it if he stays
anything over three hours within a fifty-kilometre radius. If this
offers anything of a sensation to one, Vic Dessos should be visited. You
can arrive by diligence from Tarascon, and can get comfortably in out of
the rain at the excellent Hôtel Benazet.

From Tarascon to Ax-les-Thermes, still in the valley of the Ariège, is
twenty-five kilometres of superb roadway. All the way are strung out
groups of dainty villages surrounded with cultivated country. Here and
there is an isolated mass of rock, a round watch-tower, or a ruined
fortress, still possessing its crenelated walls to give an attitude of
picturesqueness. There are innumerable little villages, a whole battery
of them, linked together. At the end of this long peopled highway is an
unpretentious mediæval country house, of that class known as a
_gentilhommière_, of fawn-coloured stone, and still possessing its two
flanking sentinel towers preserved in all the romantic grimness of their
youth.

At the junction of the Ariège with the Ascou, the Oriège, the Lauze and
the Foins is Ax-les-Thermes--the ancient _Aquæ_ of the Romans, and now a
"thermal station" of the first rank. Primarily Ax is noted for its
sulphurous waters, but for the lover of romantic days and ways its
architectural and Historical monuments are of the first consideration.
The ruins of the Château des Maures, the ancient _Castel Maü_, are the
chief of these monuments, while a neighbouring peak of rock bears aloft
an enormous square tower surmounted by a statue of the Virgin.

There are sixty-one "sources" at Ax-les-Thermes giving a supply of
medicinal waters. In part they were known to the Romans, and in 1260
Saint Louis founded a hospital here for sick soldiers returning from the
Crusades.

Ax-les-Thermes is not a howlingly popular watering place, but it is far
more delightful than Luchon, Cauterets or Bigorre, if quaintness of
architecture, manners and customs, and modesty of hotel prices count for
anything.

The Porte et Pont d'Espagne at Ax is one of the most interesting
architectural reminders of the past that one will find throughout the
Pyrenees. The bridge itself is but a diminutive span carrying a narrow
roadway, which if not forbidden to automobile traffic should be, for the
negotiating of this bridge and road, and the low, arched gateway at the
end, will come very near to spelling disaster for any who undertakes it.

Throughout the neighbourhood one sees more than an occasional yawning
pit's mouth. All through the Comté de Foix were exploited, and are yet
to some extent, iron mines and forges, the latter known as _Forges
Catalans_. Roger-Bernard, Comte de Foix, in 1293 gave the first charter
to the mine-promotors of the neighbourhood, and the industry flourished
in many parts of the Comté until within a few generations, when,
apparently, the supply of mineral was becoming exhausted.

At Luzenac, on the line between Tarascon and Ax, one turns off the road
and in a couple of hours, if he is a good brisk walker, makes the
excursion to the _château-à-pic_ of Lourdat. There is a little village
of the same name at the base of the rocky peak which holds aloft the
château, but that doesn't count.

Without question this Château de Lourdat ranks as one of the most
spectacular of all the Pyrenean châteaux. Its rank in history, too, is
quite in keeping with its extraordinary situation, though nothing very
startling ever happened within its walls. It dates from the thirteenth
and fifteenth centuries, and outside that of the capital of Foix was the
most efficient stronghold the counts possessed. Louis XIII demolished
the edifice, in part, fearing its powers of resistance, and as a base
from which some new project might be launched against him. Accordingly,
it is a ruin to-day, but in spite of this there are still left four
pronounced lines of fortifications before one comes to the inner
precincts of the château. For this reason alone it ranks as one of the
most strongly defended of all contemporary feudal works. Even the old
_Cité de Carcassonne_ has but two encircling walls.

The square donjon rising in the middle is in the best style of that
magnificent royal builder, Gaston Phoebus, and is reminiscent of the
works of Foulques Nerra in mid-France. There is also a great
ogive-arched portal, or gateway, which made still another defence to be
scaled before one finally entered within.

In situation and general spectacular effect the Château de Lourdat takes
a very near rank to that rock-perched château at Le Puy--"the most
picturesque spot in the world."

[Illustration: _Château de Lourdat_]



CHAPTER XIII

ST. LIZIER AND THE COUSERANS


Le Pays de Couserans lies in the valley of the Salat, in the
mid-Pyrenees, hemmed in by Foix, Comminges and Spain. Its name is
derived from the Euskarans, an Iberian tribe who were here on the spot
in the dark ages.

The history of the Couserans is not known to anything like the extent of
its neighbouring states, and is, accordingly, very little travelled by
strangers from afar, save long-bearded antiquarians who come to study
St. Lizier, and regret that they were not obliged to come on donkey-back
as of old, instead of by rail or automobile. The trouble with
antiquarianism, as a profession, or a passion, is that it leads one to
fall into a sleepy unprogressiveness which comports little with the
modern means at hand for doing things. A photographic plate of a curious
Roman inscription is far more truthful and convincing than the most
painstaking Ruskinese pencil drawing ever limned, and a good
"process-cut" of the broad strokes of some facile modern artist's brush
is more typical of the characteristics of a landscape than the finest
wood or steel engraving our grandfathers ever knew.

If you like grand mountains, here in Couserans is Mont Vallier, a superb
giant of the central chain of the Pyrenees. If it is sweet sloping
valleys that you prefer, here they are in all their unspoiled wildness,
for the railway actually does stop at St. Girons. If an ice-cold
mountain stream would please your fancy, there is the Salat and its
tributaries, flowing down by St. Girons and St. Lizier into the Garonne.
And, finally, if you wish to roll back the curtain of time you will see
in old St. Lizier a stage set with the accessories the reminiscent
splendours of which will be scarcely equalled by any other feudal bourg
of France.

There is no region in the Pyrenees of which less is known historically
than the Valley of the Salat. A vicomte reigned here in the sixteenth
century, but the seigneury was divided among different branches of the
family soon after; and, if they had an archivist among them, he failed
to preserve his documents along with the written history of the greater
affairs of Toulouse and Foix. Soon religious and civil troubles began to
press and much of Couserans gave allegiance to neighbouring
feudalities, with the result that from the times of Henri IV to those of
the Revolution, not an historical event of note has been chronicled.

As one approaches St. Girons, the metropolis of the Couserans, by road
from Foix, he passes through the Grotto of the Mas d'Azil, a great
underground cave, through which runs a splendid carriage road. It is a
work unique among the masterpieces of the road builders of France. This
subterranean roadway has, perhaps, a length of half a kilometre and a
width of from ten to thirty metres. It is not a stupendous work nor an
artistic one, but a most curious one. This Grotte de Mas d'Azil with its
great domed gallery can only be likened to a Byzantine cupola. This much
is natural; but a roadway beneath this noble roof and a parapet
alongside are the work of man.

It gave shelter to two thousand persons under its damp vault during the
wars of religion, in 1625, when the neighbouring Calvinists here
defended themselves successfully against the Catholic army of invaders.
The cavern was practically a fortress, then, and an old atlas of the
time shows its precise position as being directly behind a little
fortified or walled town, the same which exists to-day. The roadway on
this old map was marked, as now on the maps of the État-Major, as
running directly through the "Roch du Mas," and an engraved footnote to
the plate states that the "_rivière passe dessoubs ceste montagne_."

When Richelieu triumphed against the Protestants he razed the
fortifications of Mas d'Azil, as he did others elsewhere. The little
town is really delightfully disposed to-day, and has a quaint, old domed
church and a fine shaded promenade which would make an admirable
stage-setting for a mediæval costume play.

At Montjoie, on the road to Foix, is a curious relic of the past. In the
fourteenth century it was a famous walled town of considerable
pretensions; but, to-day, a population of a hundred find it hard work to
earn a livelihood. The square, battlemented walls of the little bourg
are still in evidence, flanked with four tourelles at the corners and
pierced with two gates. Architecturally it is a mélange of Romanesque
and Gothic.

Castelnau-Durban lies midway between St. Girons and Foix, and possesses
still, with some semblance to its former magnificence though it be a
ruin, an old thirteenth-century château. At Rimont, near by, is an
ancient _bastide royale_, a sort of kingly rest-house or hunting lodge
of olden days. The _bastide_ and the _cabanon_ are varieties of small
country-houses, one or the other of which may be found scattered
everywhere through the south of France, from the Pyrenees to the Alps.
They are low-built, square, red-tiled, little houses, a sort of
abbreviated Italian villa, though their architecture is more Spanish
than Italian. They are the punctuating notes of every southern French
landscape.

One cannot improve on an unknown French poet's description of the
_bastide_:--

    "Monuments fastueux d'orgueil ou de puissance,
     Hôtels, palais, châteaux, votre magnificence
     N'éblouit pas mes yeux, n'inspire pas mes chants.
     Je ne veux célébrer que la maison des champs,
     La riante bastide...."

St. Girons has a particularly advantageous and attractive site at the
junction of two rivers, the Lez and the Salat, and of four great
transversal roadways. The traffic with the Spanish Pyrenean provinces
has always been very great, particularly in cattle, as St. Girons is the
nearest large town in France to the Spanish frontier.

A century ago a traveller described St. Girons as a "dull crumbling
town," but he died too soon, this none too acute observer. It was
near-by St. Lizier that had begun to crumble, while St. Girons itself
was already prospering anew. To-day it has arrived. Its definitive
position has been established. Its affairs augment continually; and it
is one of the few towns in these parts which has added fifty per cent.
to its population in the last fifty years.

St. Girons is without any remarkably interesting monuments, though the
town is delightfully situated and laid out and there is real character
and picturesqueness in its tree-lined promenade along the banks of the
Salat. Originally St. Girons was known as Bourg-sous-Ville, being but a
dependency of St. Lizier. To-day the state of things is exactly
reversed. In the twelfth century it came to have a name of its own,
after that of the Apostle Geronius. In the Quartier Villefranche, at St.
Girons, on the left bank of the Salat, is the Palais de Justice, once
the old château of the seigneurs, which architecturally ranks second to
the old Église de St. Vallier with its great Romanesque doorway and its
crenelated tower like that of a donjon.

St. Lizier, just out of St. Girons on the St. Gauden's road, is one of
the mediæval glories which exist to-day only in their historic past.

[Illustration: _St. Lizier_]

Its château, its cathedral and its old stone bridge are unfortunately so
weather-worn as to be all but crumbled away; but they still point
plainly to the magnificent record that once was theirs. Once St. Lizier
was the principal city of Couserans, a region which included all that
country lying between the basins of the Ariège and the Garonne. In Roman
days it was an important strategic point and bore the imposing name of
_Lugdunum Consoranorum_. Later it became a bishopric and preserved all
its prerogatives up to the Revolution.

The cloister of the twelfth and fourteenth-century cathedral has been
classed as one of those _Monuments Historiques_ over which the French
Minister of Beaux Arts has a loving care. The château of other days was
used also as an episcopal palace, but has undergone to-day the
desecration of serving as a madhouse.

At each step, as one strolls through St. Lizier, he comes upon relics of
the past, posterior even to the coming of Christianity. On the height of
the hill were four pagan temples, one each to the honour of Minerva,
Mars, Jupiter and Janus. Only a simple souvenir of the latter remains to
complete the story of their former existence as set forth in the
chronicles. There is a two-visaged "Janus-head," discovered in 1771,
which is now in the old cathedral.

To the north of St. Lizier, a dozen kilometres or so, is the Château de
Noailhan, dating from the fifteenth century, which is admirable from an
architectural point of view.

Above St. Girons, in the valley of the Salat, is the quaint little city
of Seix. It is delightful because it has not been exploited; and if you
do not mind a twenty-kilometre diligence ride from St. Girons, if
travelling by rail, it will give you a practical demonstration of a
"rest-cure." The ruins of the Châteaux de Mirabel and La Garde, close to
the Pont de la Saule, recall the fact that Charlemagne confided the
guarding of these upper valleys of the Couserans to the inhabitants of
Seix, and gave it the dignity of being called a "_Ville Royale_."

In the Vallée d'Ustou one may see a real novelty in industry which the
mountaineers have developed, and a monopoly at that. Think of that, ye
who talk of the uncommercialism of effete Europe!

[Illustration: _Trained Bears of the Vallée d'Ustou_]

It is the trade in dancing bears which the _montagnards_ of Ustou
control. Not great, overbearing, ugly, unwholesome-looking animals like
grizzlies, nor sleek pale polar bears, but spicy-looking,
cinnamon-coloured little bears, as gentle apparently as a shaggy
Newfoundland, and frequently not much bigger. When one does grow out of
his class, and rises head and shoulders above his fellows as he stands
on his hind legs, he is a moth-eaten, crotchety specimen whose only
usefulness is as a "come-on," or a preceptor, for the younger ones.

There's nothing difficult about teaching a bear to dance. At least one
so judges from watching the process here; but one needs patience, a
will, and must not know fear, for even a dancing bear has wicked teeth
and claws; and, his strength, if dormant, is dangerous if he once
suspects he is master and not slave. Above all the teeth are a great and
valuable asset to a dancing bear. A bear who simply struts around and
holds his muzzle in air is put in the very rear row of the chorus and
called a _sal cochon_, but one who grins and shows his teeth has
possibilities in his profession that the other will never dream of. The
bears of the country fairs of France are all descended from the best
families of Ustou; and, whatever their lack of grace may be in the
dance, certainly "_personne est plus amoureux dans la société_."

All through Couserans, particularly along the river valleys, are
piquant little villages and smiling peasant folk, ever willing to pass
the time of day with the stranger, or discuss the good old days before
the railroad came to St. Girons, and when St. Lizier was looked upon as
being a possible religious capital of the world.

In the high valleys, above St. Girons, in Bethmale in particular, one
finds still a reminiscence of the past in the picturesque costumes of
the peasants not yet fallen before the advance of Paris modes. The men
wear short red or blue breeches, embroidered with arabesques down the
sides, and, on fête-days, a big broad-brimmed hat, and a vest of
embroidered velours, with great turned-up sabots, something like those
of the Ariège.

The women have a sort of red bonnet coiffe, held tight around the head
by a kind of diadem of ribbon, and a great white-winged cap tumbling to
the shoulders. The skirt is short with very many pleats, and there is
also the traditional sabot. This is the best description the author, a
mere man, can give.

High up in this same valley is the little village of Biert, once the
civil capital of the region, as was St. Lizier the religious capital.
To-day there are between three and four thousand people here. Just above
is the Col de Port, 1,249 metres high, leading into the watershed of the
Ariège and the Comté de Foix.



CHAPTER XIV

THE PAYS DE COMMINGES


On the first steep slope of the Pyrenees, bounded on one side by
Couserans and on the other by Bigorre, is the ancient Comté de
Comminges, the territory of the Convènes, whose capital was _Lugdunum
Convenarum_, established by Pompey from the remains left by the legions
of Sertorius. Under the Roman emperors the capital became an opulent
city, but to-day, known as St. Bertrand de Comminges, but seven hundred
people think enough of it to call it home.

It possesses a historic and picturesque site unequalled in the region,
but Luchon, Montrejeau and St. Gaudens have grown at the expense of the
smaller town, and its grand old cathedral church and ancient ramparts
are little desecrated by alien strangers.

The view of Comminges from a distance is uncommon and startling. One may
see across a valley the outline of every rock and tree and housetop of
the little town clustered about the knees of the swart, sturdy church
of St. Bertrand of Comminges, one of the architectural glories of the
mediæval builder. The mountains rise roundly all about and give a rough
frame to an exquisite picture.

What the precise date of the foundation of Comminges may be no one seems
to know, though St. Jerome has said that it was a city built first by
the _montagnards_ in 79 B.C. This sacred chronicler called the founders
"_brigands_," but authorities agree that he meant merely mountain
dwellers.

There is a profuse history of all this region still existing in the
archives of the Département, which ranks among the most important of all
those of feudal times still preserved in France. Only those of the Seine
(Paris), Normandy (Rouen) and Provence (Marseilles and Aix) surpass it.

In autumn St. Bertrand de Comminges is an enchanted spot, with all the
colours of the rainbow showing in its ensemble. It is grandly superb,
the panorama which unrolls from the terrace of the old château,
succeeding ranges of the Pyrenees rising one behind the other, cloud or
snow-capped in turn. St. Bertrand, the ancient bishop's seat of
Comminges, with the fortress walls surrounding the town and towering
cathedral is, in a way, a suggestion of St. Michel's Mount off the
Normandy coast, except there is no neighbouring sea. It is a townlet on
a pinnacle.

The constructive elements of the grim ramparts are Roman, but mediæval
additions and copings have been interpolated from time to time so that
they scarcely look their age. In the _Ville Haute_ were built the
cathedral and its dependencies, the château of the seigneurs, and the
houses of the noblesse. Beyond these, but within another encircling
wall, were the houses of the adherents of the counts; while outside of
this wall lived the mere hangers-on. This was the usual feudal
disposition of things. Eighty thousand people once made up the
population of St. Bertrand. And three great highways, to Agen, to Dax,
and to Toulouse, led therefrom. This was the epoch of its great
prosperity. It is one of the most ancient Roman colonies in Aquitaine,
and its history has been told by many chroniclers, one of the least
profuse being St. Gregoire, Archbishop of Tours.

[Illustration: _St. Bertrand de Comminges_]

After a frightful massacre in the ninth century the city, its churches,
its château and its houses became deserted. It was a century later that
Saint Bertrand de l'Isle, who had just been sanctified by his uncle
the archbishop at Auch, undertook to reconstruct the old city on the
ruins of its past. He re-established first the fallen bishopric, and
elected himself bishop. This gave him power, and he started forthwith to
build the singularly dignified and beautiful cathedral which one sees
to-day. Comminges was made a comté in the tenth century, and the fief
contained two hundred and eighty-eight towns and villages and nine
castellanies, all owing allegiance to the Comte de Comminges. The
episcopal jurisdiction varied somewhat from these limits, for it
included twenty Spanish communes beyond the frontier as well.

One enters St. Bertrand to-day by the great arched gateway, or Porte
Majou, which bears over its lintel the arms of the Cardinal de Foix. As
a grand historical monument St. Bertrand commences well. Narrow,
crooked, little streets climb to the platform terrace above where sits
the cathedral. It is a sad, grim journey, this mounting through the
deserted streets, with here and there a Gothic or Renaissance column
built helter-skelter into a house front, and the suggestion of a barred
Gothic window or a delicate Renaissance doorway now far removed from its
original functions. At last one reaches a great mass of tumbled stones
which one is told is the ruin of the episcopal palace built by St.
Bertrand himself. But what would you? It is just this atmosphere of
antiquity that one comes here to breathe, and certainly a more musty and
less worldly one it would be difficult to find outside the catacombs of
Rome.

Another city gate, the Porte Cabirole, still keeps the flame of
mediævalism alive; and, near by, is the most interesting architectural
bit of all, a diminutive, detached tower-stairway, dating at least from
the fifteenth century. It is an admirable architectural note, quite in
contrast with all the grimness and sadness of the rest of the ruins.

Opposite the entrance to the walled city is a curious monumental
gateway, better described as a _barbacane_, or perhaps a great
watch-tower, through which one has still to pass. The upper town had no
source of water supply, so a well was cut down in the rock, and this
tower served as its protection. There is another gate, still, in the
encircling city walls, the third, the Porte de Herrison. After this, in
making the round, one comes again to the Porte Majou, by which one
entered.

Rising high above all, on the top of the hill, as does the tower of the
abbey on St. Michel's Mount, is the great, grim, newly coiffed tower of
the cathedral of St. Bertrand, one of the most amply endowed and
luxuriously installed minor cathedrals in all France. Its description in
detail must be had from other works. It suffices here to state that the
cathedral is of the town, and the town is of it to such an intermingled
extent that it is almost impossible to separate the history of one from
that of the other. The site of the cathedral is that of the old Roman
citadel. Of the edifice built by St. Bertrand nothing remains but the
first arches of the nave and the great westerly tower, really more like
a donjon tower than a church steeple. In fact it is not a steeple at
all. The whole aspect of St. Bertrand de Comminges, the city, the
cathedral and the surroundings is militant, and looks as though it might
stand off an army as well as undertake the saving of men's souls.

The altar decorations, sculptured wood and carved stalls of the interior
of this great church are very beautiful. Its like is not to be seen in
France outside of Amiens, Albi and Rodez. The cloister, too, is superb.

The happenings of the city since its reconstruction were not many, save
as they referred to religion. Two bishops of the see became Popes,
Clement V and Innocent VIII. The end of the sixteenth century brought
the religious wars, and Huguenots and Calvinists took, and retook, the
city in turn. With the Revolution came times nearly as terrible; and, in
the new order of things following upon the Concordat, the bishopric was
definitely suppressed. The few hundred inhabitants of to-day live in a
city almost as dead as Pompeii or Les Baux.

The word Comminges signifies an assembly inhabited by the Convenæ in the
time of Cæsar. The inhabitants of feudal times were known as
Commingeois. "The Commingeois are naturally warriors," wrote St.
Bertrand de Comminges, and from this it is not difficult to follow the
evolution of their dainty little feudal city, though difficult enough to
find the reason for its practical desertion to-day.

The Comtes de Comminges were an able and vigorous race, if we are to
believe the records they left behind. There was one, Loup-Aznar, who
lived in 932, who rode horse-back at the age of a hundred and five, and
one of his descendants was married seven times. It was a Comte de
Comminges, in the time of Louis XIV, who was compared by that monarch to
a great cannon ball, whose chief efficiency was its size. Subsequently
cannon balls, in France, came to be called "Comminges." Not a very great
fame this, but still fame, and it was still for their warlike spirit
that the Commingeois were commended.

Jean Bertrand, a one-time Archbishop of Comminges, became a Cardinal of
France upon the recommendation of Henri II. The king afterwards
confessed that he was persuaded to urge his appointment by Diane de
Poitiers, who was distributing her favours rather freely just at that
time.

The "Mémoires du Comte de Comminges" was the title borne by one of the
most celebrated works of fiction of the eighteenth century--a
predecessor of the Dumas style of romance. It is a work which has often
been confounded by amateur students of French history with the "Mémoires
de Philippe de Commines," who lived in another era altogether. The
former was fiction, pure and simple, with its scene laid in the little
Pyrenean community, while the latter was fact woven around the life of
one who lived centuries later, in Flanders.



CHAPTER XV

BÉARN AND THE BÉARNAIS


The Béarnais and the Basques have no historical monuments in their
country anterior to the Roman invasion, and for that matter Roman
monuments themselves are nearly non-existent. Medals and coins have been
occasionally found which tell a story neglected by the chroniclers, or
fill a gap which would be otherwise unbridged, but in the main there is
little remaining of a period so far remote, save infrequent fragmentary
examples of Arab or Saracen art. Of later times as well, the splendid
building eras of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, there is but
little that is monumental, or indeed remarkable for richness.
Architectural styles were strong and hardy, but most often they were a
mélange of foreign forms, combined and presented anew by local builders.
This makes for picturesqueness at any rate, so, taken as a whole, what
the extreme southwest of France lacks in architectural magnificence it
makes up for in quaintness and variety, and above all environment.

The historic memories hovering around Béarn and Navarre are so many and
varied that each will have to establish them for himself if any pretence
at completeness is to be made, and then the sum total will fall far
short of reality. All are dear to the Béarnais themselves, from the
legendary first sip of wine of the infant Henri to the more real, but of
still doubtful authenticity, tortoise-shell cradle. One absorbs them all
readily enough, on the spot, or in any perusal of French history of the
Middle Ages, and the names of the Centulles, the Gastons, the
Marguerites and the Henris are ever occurring and recurring whichever
by-path one takes.

The province of Béarn came to the Centulle house in the ninth century,
and passed by marriage (in 1170) to that of Moncade, from which family
it was transferred as a dowry, in 1290, to Bernard III, Comte de Foix,
on condition that Béarn and Foix should be united in perpetuity. Gaston
IX, a later descendant, by marrying Elénore de Navarre, in 1434, united
the two sovereignties, and Catherine de Foix, his sister, in turn made
over her hereditary rights to her husband, Comte de Pentièvre et de
Périgord.

In spite of this, Béarn and the Béarnais have always kept a distinct and
separate identity from that of their allies and associates, and Henri,
Prince de Béarn, is as often thought of by the Béarnais as Henri, Roi de
Navarre, even though the two titles belonged to one and the same person.

The most brilliant epoch of Béarn was that which began with Henri II and
Marguerite de Valois. The old Gothic castle at Pau had become
metamorphosed into a Renaissance palace, and the most illustrious
princess of her century drew thither the most reputed savants,
litterateurs, and artists in the world, until the little Pyrenean
capital became known as the "_Parnasse Béarnais_." Jean d'Albret and
Catherine were succeeded by their eldest son, who became Henri II of
Navarre, and Henri I of Béarn. This prince was born in the month of
August, 1503, and was given the name of Henri because it was the name of
one of two faithful German pilgrims who passed by, en route to pay their
devotions at the shrine of St. Jacques de Compestelle. The pilgrims were
given hospitality by the king of Navarre, and, because it was thought
meet that the newborn prince should bear a worthy, even though humble
name, he was baptized thus, though the proud countrymen of Béarn did
resent it. The circumstance is curiously worthy of record.

Béarn and Navarre are above all other provinces of France proud indeed
of the great names of history, and Henri Quatre and Gaston Phoebus
were hung well on the line in the royal portrait galleries of their
time. The first was more of a good ruler than a gallant chevalier, and
the second possessed a regal personality which gave him a place almost
as exalted as that of his brother prince. Together they gave an
indescribable lustre to the country of their birth.

In erecting the statue of Henri IV in the Place Royale at Pau the
Béarnais rendered homage to the most illustrious son of Béarn. Without
Henri Quatre one would not know that Béarn had ever existed, for it was
he who carried its name and fame afar. Luchon, Biarritz and Pau are
known of men and women of all nations as tourist places of a supreme
rank, but the mind ever wanders back to the days of the gallant, rough,
unpolished Henri who went up to Paris and, in spite of opposition,
became the first Bourbon king of the French after the Valois line was
exhausted.

The Béarnais--the mountaineers, as they were often contemptuously
referred to at the capital--had a time of it making their way at Paris,
for there was a rivalry and jealousy against the southerners at Paris
which was only explainable by traditionary prejudice.

When Catherine de Medici was making the first efforts to marry off her
daughter Marguerite to Henri, Prince of Béarn, the feeling was at its
height. It is curious to remark in this connection that the two queens
of Navarre by the name of Marguerite were separated by only a half
century of time, and both were to become famous in the world of letters,
the first for her "Heptameron" and the second for her "Mémoires."

The daughter of the Medici would have none of the rough prince of Béarn
and told her mother so plainly, resenting the fact that he was a
Protestant as much as anything.

"My daughter, listen," said the queen mother. "This marriage is
indispensable for reasons of state. The king, your brother, and I
myself, like the king of Navarre as little as you do. That little
kingdom in the high valleys of the Pyrenees is a veritable thorn in our
sides, but by some means or other we must pluck it out."

"I shall go to Nerac, in Gascony," the queen mother continued, "to
conclude a treaty with my sister, Reine Jeanne, the mother of Henri de
Béarn. When an alliance is concluded between the queen of Navarre and
myself your marriage _shall_ take place." This was final!

Tradition--or perhaps it is a fact, though the average traveller won't
remark it--says that the Béarnais are an irascible and jealous people.
Proud they are, but there are no external evidences to show that they
are more irascible or jealous than any other folk one meets in the
French countryside. In the valleys the type is more delicate than that
of the inhabitants of the mountain slopes, and throughout they are
fervidly religious without being in the least fanatical.

The same tradition that says the Béarnais are rough, irascible spirits,
says also that they seek for a summary personal vengeance rather than
let the process of law take its course. There's something of philosophy
in this, if it's true, but again it is reiterated there are no visible
signs that the peasant of Béarn is of the knife-drawing class of
humanity to which belong Sicilians and gypsies. The writer on more than
one occasion has been stalled in the Pyrenees while blazing an
automobile trail up some valley road that he ought not to have
attempted, and has found the Béarnais a faithful, willing worker in
helping him out of a hole (this is literal), and glad indeed to accept
such an honorarium as was bestowed upon him. Nothing of brigandage in
this!

The passing times change men and manners, and when it is recorded by the
préfet of the Basses-Pyrénées that no department ever had so much
law-business going on before in its courts, it shows at least that if
the Béarnais do have their little troubles among themselves, they are
now a law-loving, law-abiding people.

They are good livers and drinkers too, of much the same stamp as the
gallant Gascons, of whom Dumas wrote. It was in a Béarnais inn that the
Prince de Conti saw the following couplet chalked upon the wall:

    "Je m'apuelle Robineau,
     Et je bois mon vin sans eaux."

Whereupon he added:

    "Et moi, Prince de Conti,
     Sans eaux je le bois aussi."

The sentiment is not very high; window-pane poetry and the like never
does soar; but it is significant of the good living of past and present
times in France, and in these parts in particular.

The peasant dress of the Béarnais is the same throughout all the
communes. They wear a woollen head-dress, something like that of the
Basques. It is round, generally brown, and usually drawn down over the
left ear in a most _dégagé_ fashion. The student of Paris' Latin Quarter
is a poor copy of a Béarnais so far as his cap goes. In some parts of
the plain below the foot-hills of the Pyrenees,--around Tarbes for
example,--the cap is replaced by a little round hat, a sort of a cross
between that sometimes worn by the Breton, and a "bowler" of the vintage
of '83.

A long blouse-like coat, or jacket, is worn, and woollen breeches and
gaiters, of such variegated colouring as appeals to each individual
himself. In style the costume of the Béarnais is national; in colour it
is anything you like and individual, but mostly brown or gray of those
shades which were the progenitors of what we have come to know as khaki.

The shepherds and cattle guardians, indeed all of the inhabitants of the
higher valleys and slopes, dress similarly, but in stuffs of much
coarser texture and heavier weight, and wear quite as much clothing in
summer as in the coldest days of winter.

The Béarnais speak a _patois_, or idiom, composed of the structural
elements of Celtic, Latin and Spanish. It is not a language, like the
Breton or the Basque, but simply a hybrid means of expression, difficult
enough for outsiders to become proficient in, but not at all unfamiliar
in sound to one used to the expressions of the Latin races. It is more
like the Provençal of the Bouches-du-Rhône than anything else, but very
little like the Romance tongue of Languedoc.

In cadence the Béarnais _patois_ is sweet and musical, and the
literature of the tongue, mostly pastoral poetry, is of a beauty
approaching the epilogues of Virgil.

The _patois_ is the speech of the country people, and French that of the
town dwellers. The educated classes may speak French, but, almost
without exceptions, they know also the _patois_, as is the case in
Provence, where the _patois_ is reckoned no _patois_ at all, but a real
tongue, and has the most profuse literature of any of the anciently
spoken tongues of France.

The following lines in the Béarnais _patois_ show its possibilities.
They were sung when Jeanne de Navarre was giving birth to the infant
prince who was to become Henri IV.

    _"Nouste Dame deü cap deü poün,_
     _Adyudat-me à d'acquest'hore;_
     _Pregats au Dioü deü ceü_
     _Qu'emboulle bié delioura ceü,_
     _D'u maynat qu'em hassie lou doun_
     _Tou d'inqu' aü haut dous mounts l'implore_
     _Adyudat-me à d'acquest'hore."_

The significance of these lines was that the queen prayed God that she
might be delivered of her child without agony, but above all that it
might be born a boy.

Béarn was fairly populous in the old days with a well distributed
population, and the towns were all relatively largely inhabited. Now, in
some sections, as in the Pays de Baretous, for example, the region is
losing its population daily, and in half a century the figures have
decreased something like thirty per cent. Like many other Pyrenean
valleys the population has largely emigrated to what they call "les
Amériques," meaning, in this case, South or Central America, never North
America. Buenos Ayres they know, also "la ville de Mexique," but New
York is a vague, meaningless term to the peasant of the French
Pyrenees.

The _bastides_,--the country houses, often fortified châteaux with
dependencies,--originally a Béarnais institution, often remained
stagnant hamlets or villages instead of developing into prosperous towns
as they did elsewhere in the Midi of France, particularly in Gascogne
and Languedoc. Many a time their sites had been chosen fortunately, but
instead of a bourg growing up around them they remained isolated and
backward for no apparent reason whatever.

This has been the fate of Labastide-Ville-franche in Béarn. One traces
readily enough the outlines of the original _bastide_, but more than all
else marvels at the great, four-storied donjon tower, planned by the
father of the illustrious Gaston Phoebus of Foix. This sentinel tower
stood at the juncture of the principalities of Béarn, Bidache and
Navarre. Gaston Phoebus finished this great donjon with the same
generous hand with which he endowed everything he touched, and it ranks
among the best of its era wherever found. The _bastide_ and its
dependencies grew up around the foot of this tower, but there is nothing
else to give the little town--or more properly village--any distinction
whatever; it still remains merely a delightful old-world spot, endowed
with a charming situation. It calls itself a _rendezvous commercial_,
but beyond being a cattle-market of some importance, thanks to its being
the centre of a spider's web of roads, not many outside the immediate
neighbourhood have ever heard its name mentioned, or seen it in print.

In this same connection it is to be noted that all of Béarn and the
Basque provinces are celebrated for their cattle. What Arabia is to the
horse, the Pyrenean province of Béarn, more especially the gracious
valley of Barétous, called the "Jardin de Béarn," is to the bovine race.

Another delightful, romantic corner of Béarn is the valley of the Aspe.
Urdos is its principal town, and here one sees ancient customs as quaint
as one is likely to find hereabouts. Urdos is but a long-drawn-out,
one-street village along the banks of the Gave d'Aspe, but it is lively
and animated with all the gaiety of the Latin life. On a fête day
omnibuses, country carts, donkeys, mules and even oxen bring a very
respectable crowd to town, and there is much merry-making of a kind
which knows not modern amusements in the least degree. Continuous
dancing,--all day and all night--interspersed with eating and drinking
suffices. Something of the sort was going on, the author and artist
thought, when they arrived at five on a delightful June day; but no, it
was nothing but the marriage feast of a local official, and though all
the rooms of the one establishment which was dignified by the name of a
hotel were taken, shelter was found at an humble inn kept by a worthy
widow. She certainly was worthy, for she charged for dinner, lodging,
and coffee in the morning, for two persons, but the small sum of six
francs and didn't think the automobile, which was lodged in the shed
with the sheep and goats and cows, was an excuse for sticking on a
single sou. She was more than worthy; she was gentle and kind, for when
a fellow traveller, a French Alpinist, would find a guide to show him
the way across the mountain on the morrow, and so on down into the Val
d'Ossau, she expostulated and told him that the witless peasant he had
engaged to show him the road had never been, to her knowledge, out of
his own commune. Her interrogation of the unhappy, self-named "guide"
was as sharp a bit of cross-questioning as one sees out of court. "No,
he knew not the route, but all one had to do was to go up the mountain
first and then down the other side." All very well, but which other
side? There were many ramifications. He was sure of being able to find
his way, he said, but the Frenchman became suspicious, and the bustling
landlady found another who _did_ know, and would work by some other
system than the rule of thumb, which is a very bad one for mountain
climbing. This time the intrepid tourist found a real guide and not a
mere "_cultivateur_," as the mistress of the inn contemptuously called
the first.



CHAPTER XVI

OF THE HISTORY AND TOPOGRAPHY OF BÉARN


The old Vicomté de Béarn lay snug within the embrace of the Pyrenees
between Foix, Comminges and Basse Navarre. It was further divided into
various small districts whose entities were later swallowed by the
parent state, and still later by the royal domain under the rule of
Henry IV.

There is one of these divisions, which not every traveller through the
smiling valleys of the Pyrenees knows either by name or history. It is
the Pays de Bidache, formerly the principality of Bidache, a tiny
kingdom whose sovereign belonged to the house of Grammont. This little
principality was analogous to that of Liechtenstein, lying between
Switzerland and Austria. Nothing remains but the title, and the
Grammonts, who figure in the noblesse of France to-day, are still by
right Princes de Bidache, the eldest of the family being also Duc de
Guiche. The château of the Grammonts at Bidache, which is a town of
eight or nine hundred inhabitants, sits high on the hill overlooking
the town. It is in ruins, but, nevertheless, there are some very
considerable vestiges remaining of the glories that it possessed in the
times of Henri IV when the house of Grammont was at its greatest height.

In the little village church are the tombs of the Sires de Grammont,
notably that of the Maréchal Antoine III, who died in 1678.

Bidache was made a _duché-pairie_ for the family De Grammont, who, by
virtue of their letters patent, were absolute sovereigns. The Princes de
Bidache, up to the Revolution, exercised all the rights of a chief of
state, a curious latter day survival of feudal powers.

Tradition plays no small part even to-day in the affairs of the De
Grammonts, and the old walls of the family château could tell much that
outsiders would hardly suspect. One fact has leaked out and is on public
record. The sons born in the family are usually named Agenor, and the
daughters Corisande, names illustrious in the golden days of Béarnais
history.

Throughout all this ancient principality of Bidache the spirit of
feudality has been effaced in these later Republican days, a thing the
kings of France and Navarre and the parlément de Pau could not
accomplish. As in other parts of Béarn and the Basque provinces, it is
now entirely swallowed by "_la nationalité française_."

The Duc de Grammont still possesses the Château de Guiche, and the
non-forfeitable titles of his ancestors; but, virtually, he is no more
than any other citizen.

Just north from Bidache, set whimsically on a hillside above the Adour,
is the feudal village of Hastingues. It was an English creation, founded
by John of Hastings towards 1300, for Edward I. It is crowded to the
very walls with curious old houses in which its inhabitants live with
much more tranquillity than in feudal times. The fourteenth-century
fortifications are still much in evidence.

Up the river from Hastingues is Peyrehorade, or in the old Béarnais
tongue Pérorade, literally _roche-percée_. It is the metropolis of the
region, and has a population of twenty-five hundred simple folk who live
tight little lives, and not more than once in a generation get fifty
miles away from their home.

The Vicomtes d'Orthe fortified the city in olden times, and the ruined
château-fort of Aspremont on the hillside overlooking the river valley
and the town tells the story of feudal combat far better than the
restored and made-over edifices of a contemporary period. Its
pentagonal donjon of the sixteenth century is as grim and imposing a
tower of its class as may be conceived.

Below, along the river bank, is the sixteenth-century château of
Montréal, its walls still standing flanked with grim, heavy, uncoiffed
towers. It is all sadly disfigured, like its fellow on the heights; but
the very sadness of it all makes it the more emphatic as a historical
monument of the past.

In the villages round about the dominant industry appears to be
_sabot_-making, as in the Basque country it is the making of
_espadrilles_. Each is a species of shoe-making which knows not
automatic machinery, nor ever will.

Lying between Basse Navarre and Béarn was the Pays de Soule, with
Mauléon and Tardets as its chief centres of population. The district has
a bit of feudal history which is interesting. It was a region of
mediocre extent--not more than thirty leagues square--but with a
political administration more complex than any Gerrymandering
administration has dared to conceive since.

The district was divided into three _Messageries_, Haute Soule, Basse
Soule and Arbailles. Each of these divisions had at its head a
functionary called a _Messager_, and each was in turn divided again
into smaller parcels of territory called _Vics_, each of which had a
sort of beadle as an official head, called a _Degan_.

Popular election put all these officials in power, but the Courts of
Justice were administered by the king of France, as heir to the kings of
Navarre.

Mauléon takes its name from the old château which in the local tongue
was known as Malo-Leone. Mainly it is of the fifteenth century. The
interior court has been made over into a sort of formal garden, quite
out of keeping with its former purpose, and by far the most impressive
suggestions are received from the exterior. There are the usual
underground prisons, or _cachots_, which the guardian takes pleasure in
showing.

From the _chemin de ronde_, encircling the central tower, one has a
wide-spread panorama of the Gave de Mauléon as it rushes down from its
cradle near the crest of the Pyrenees. Mauléon is the centre for the
manufacture of the local Pyrenean variety of footwear called
_espadrilles_, a sort of a cross between a sandal and a moccasin, with a
rope sole. The population who work at this trade are mostly Spaniards
from Ronça, Pamplona and in fact all Aragon. This accounts largely for
Mauléon's recent increase in population, whilst most other neighbouring
small towns have reduced their ranks. For this reason Mauléon is a
phenomenon. Paris and the great provincial capitals, like Marseilles,
Bordeaux and Rouen, constantly increase in numbers, but most of the
small towns of France either stand still, or more likely fall off in
numbers. Here at this little Pyrenean centre the population has doubled
since the Franco-Prussian war.

The historical monuments of Mauléon are not many, but the whole ensemble
is warm in its unassuming appeal to the lover of new sensations. The
lower town is simply laid out, has the conventional tree-bordered
promenade of a small French town, its _fronton de pelote_ (the national
game of these parts), a fine old Renaissance house called the Hôtel
d'Andurrian, and a cross-surmounted column which looks ancient, and is
certainly picturesque.

Dumas laid the scene of one of his celebrated sword and cloak romances
here at Mauléon, but as the critics say, he so often distorted facts,
and built châteaux that never existed, the scene might as well have been
somewhere else. This is not saying that they were not romances which
have been seldom, if ever, equalled. They were indeed the peers of
their class. Let travellers in France read and re-read such romances as
the D'Artagnan series, or even Monte Cristo, and they will fall far more
readily into the spirit of things in feudal times than they will by
attempting to digest Carlylean rant and guide-book literature made in
the British Museum. Dumas, at any rate, had the genuine spirit of the
French, and with it well-seasoned everything he wrote. The story of
Agenor de Mauléon, a real chevalier of romance and fable, is very nearly
as good as his best.

Leaving Tardets by the Route d'Oloron, one makes his way by a veritable
mountain road. Its rises and falls are not sharp, but they are frequent,
and on each side rear small, rocky peaks and great _mamelons_ of stone,
as in the Val d'Enfer of Dante.

Montory is the first considerable village en route, and if French is
to-day the national language, one would not think it from anything heard
here offhand, for the inhabitants speak mostly Basque. In spite of this,
the inhabitants, by reason of being under the domination of Oloron,
consider themselves Béarnais.

Montory, and the Barétous near-by, have intimate relations with Spain.
All Aragon and Navarre, at least all those who trade horses and mules,
come through here to the markets of Gascogne and Poitou. Frequently they
don't get any farther than Oloron, having sold their stock to the
Béarnais traders at this point. The Béarnais horse-dealers are the
worthy rivals of the Maquignons of Brittany.

The next village of the Barétous is Lanne, huddled close beneath the
flanks of a thousand-metre peak, called the Basse-Blanc. Lanne possesses
a diminutive château--called a _gentilhommière_ in olden times, a name
which explains itself. The edifice is not a very grand or imposing
structure, and one takes it to be more of a country-house than a
stronghold, much the same sort of a habitation as one imagines the
paternal roof of D'Artagnan, comrade of the Mousquetaires, to have been.

Aramits, near by, furnished, with but little evolution, one of the
heroic names of the D'Artagnan romances, it may be remarked. If one
cares to linger in a historic, romantic literary shrine, he could do
worse than stay at Aramits' Hôtel Loubeu. As for the inner man, nothing
more excellent and simple can be found than the fare of this little
country inn of a practically unknown corner of the Pyrenees. A diligence
runs out from Oloron, fourteen kilometres, so the place is not wholly
inaccessible. Lanne's humble château, nothing more than a residence of
a poor, but proud seigneur of Gascogne, is an attractive enough monument
to awaken vivid memories of what may have gone on within its walls in
the past, and in connection with the neighbouring venerable church and
cemetery suggests a romance as well as any dumb thing can.

Aramits is bereft of historical monuments save the Mairie of to-day,
which was formerly the chamber of the syndics who exercised judiciary
functions here (and in the five neighbouring villages) under the orders
of the États de Béarn.

Another delightful and but little known corner of Béarn is the valley of
the Aspe, leading directly south from Oloron into the high valley of the
Pyrenees. The Pas d'Aspe is at an elevation of seventeen hundred metres.
Majestic peaks close in the valley and its half a dozen curious little
towns; and, if one asks a native of anything so far away as Pau or
Mauléon, perhaps fifty miles as the crow flies, he says simply: "_Je ne
sais pas! Je ne peux pas savoir, moi, je passe tous mes jours dans la
vallée d'Aspe._" Even when you ask the route over the mountain, that you
may make your way back again by the Val d'Ossau, it is the same thing;
they have never been that way themselves and are honest enough, luckily,
not to give you directions that might put you off the road.

Directly before one is the Pic d'Anie, the king mountain of the chain of
the Pyrenees between the Aspe and the sea to the westward.

Urdos is the last settlement of size as one mounts the valley. Above,
the carriage road continues fairly good to the frontier, but the side
roads are mere mule paths and trails. One of these zigzags its way
craftily up to the Fort d'Urdos or Portalet. Here the grim walls, with
their machicolations and bastions and redoubts cut out from the rock
itself, give one an uncanny feeling as if some danger portended; but
every one assures you that nothing of the sort will ever take place
between France and Spain. This fortification is a very recent work, and
formidable for its mere size, if not for the thickness of its walls. It
was built in 1838-1848, at the time when Lyons, Paris and other
important French cities were fortified anew.

War may not be imminent or even probable, but the best safeguard against
it is protection, and so the Spaniards themselves have taken pattern of
the French and erected an equally imposing fortress just over the border
at the Col de Lladrones, in the valley of the Aragon, and still other
batteries at Canfranc.

One of the topographic and scenic wonders of the world which belongs to
Béarn is the Cirque de Gavarnie, that rock-surrounded amphitheatre of
waterfalls, icy pools and caverns.

Of the Cirque de Gavarnie, Victor Hugo wrote:--

    "Quel cyclope savant de l'âge évanoui,
     Quel être monstrueux, plus grand que les idées,
     A pris un compas haut de cent mille coudées
     Et, le tournant d'un doigt prodigieux et sûr,
     A tracé ce grand cercle au niveau de l'azur?"

Just below the "Cirque" is the little village of Gavarnie, which before
the Revolution was a property of the Maltese Order, it having previously
belonged to the Templars. Vestiges of their former _presbytère_ and of
their lodgings may be seen. A gruesome relic was formerly kept in the
church, but it has fortunately been removed to-day. It was no less than
a dozen bleached skulls of a band of unfortunate chevaliers who had been
decapitated on the spot in some classic encounter the record of which
has been lost to history.

Above Gavarnie, on the frontier crest of the Pyrenees, is the famous
Brèche de Roland. One remembers here, if ever, his schoolboy days, and
the "Song of Roland" rings ever in his ears.

    "High are the hills and huge and dim with cloud;
     Down in the deeps and living streams are loud."

The Brèche de Roland, with the Col de Roncevaux, shares the fame of
being the most celebrated pass of the Pyrenees. It is a vast rock
fissure, at least three hundred feet in height. As a strategic point of
defence against an invading army or a band of smugglers ten men could
hold it against a hundred and a hundred against a thousand. At each side
rises an unscalable rock wall with a height of from three to six hundred
feet.

The legend of this famous Brèche is this: Roland mounted on his charger
would have passed the Pyrenees, so giving a swift clean cut of his
famous sword he clave the granite wall fair in halves, and for this
reason the mountaineers have ever called it the Brèche de Roland. The
Tours de Marboré were built in the old days to further defend the
passage, a sort of a trap, or barbican, being a further defence on
French soil.

The aspect roundabout is as of a desert, except that it is mountainous,
and the gray sterile juts of rock and the snows of winter--here at least
five months of the year--might well lead one to imagine it were a pass
in the Himalayas.

Bordering upon Béarn on the north is the ancient Comté d'Armagnac, a
detached corner of the Duché de Gascogne, which dates its history from
the tenth century. It passed to Henri d'Albret, king of Navarre, in
1525, and by reason of belonging to the crown of Navarre came to France
in due course.

The ancient family of Armagnac had many famous names on its roll: the
first Comte Bernard, the founder; Bernard II, who founded the Abbey of
Saint Pé; Gerard II, successor of the preceding and a warrior as well;
Bernard III, canon of Sainte-Marie d'Auch; Gerard III, who united the
Comté de Fezensac with Armagnac; Bernard V, who, in league with the
Comtes de Toulouse, went up against Saint Louis; Gerard V, who became an
ally of the English king; Bernard VI, who warred all his life with
Roger-Bernard, Comte de Foix, on the subject of the succession of the
Vicomté de Béarn, to which he pretended; Jean II, who terminated the
quarrel with the house of Foix; Bernard VI, the most famous warrior of
his race, whose name is written in letters of blood in the chronicles
of the wars of the Armagnacs and Jean IV, who was called "Comte par la
grace de Dieu."



CHAPTER XVII

PAU AND ITS CHÂTEAU

[Illustration: _Pau and the Surrounding Country_]

[Illustration: _Arms of the City of Pau_]


Pau, _ville d'hiver mondaine et cosmopolite_, is the way the
railway-guides describe the ancient capital of Béarn, and it takes no
profound knowledge of the subtleties of the French language to grasp
the significance of the phrase. If Pau was not all this it would be
delightful, but what with big hotels, golf and tennis clubs, and a pack
of fox-hounds, there is little of the sanctity of romance hanging over
it to-day, in spite of the existence of the old château of Henri IV's
Bourbon ancestors.

The life of Pau, in every phase, is to-day ardent and strenuous, with
the going and coming of automobile tourists and fox hunters,
semi-invalids and what not. In the gallant days of old, when princes and
their followers held sway in the ancient Béarnaise capital, it was
different, quite different, and the paternal château of the D'Albrets
was a great deal more a typical château of its time than it has since
become.

If the observation is worth anything to the reader "_Pau est la petite
Nice des Pyrénées_." This is complimentary, or the reverse, as one
happens to think. Pau's attractions are many, in spite of the fact that
it has become a typical tourist resort.

The château itself, even as it stands in its reconstructed form, is a
pleasing enough structure, as imposingly grand as many in Touraine. This
palace of kings and queens, which saw the birth of the Béarnais prince
who was to reign at Paris, has been remodelled and restored, but, in
spite of this, it still remains the key-note of the whole gamut of the
charms of Pau, and indeed of all Béarn.

The Revolution and Louis Philippe are jointly responsible for much of
the garish crudity of the present arrangement of the Château de Pau. The
mere fact that the edifice was a prison and a barracks from 1793 to 1808
accounts for much of the indignity thrust upon it, and of the present
furnishings--always excepting that exceedingly popular tortoise-shell
cradle--only the wall tapestries may be considered truly great. In spite
of this, the memories of the D'Albrets, of Henri IV, of Gaston, and of
the "Marguerite des Marguerites" still hang about its apartments and
corridors.

The Vicomte de Béarn who had the idea of transferring his capital from
Morlaas to Pau was a man of taste. At the borders of his newly acquired
territory he planted three _pieux_ or _pau_, and this gave the name to
the new city, which possessed then, as now, one of the most admirable
scenic situations of France, a terrace a hundred feet or more above the
Gave, with a mountain background, and a low-lying valley before.

The English discovered Pau as early as 1785, fifty years before Lord
Brougham discovered Cannes. It was Arthur Young, that indefatigable
traveller and agriculturalist, who stood as godfather to Pau as a
tourist resort, though truth to tell he was more interested in industry
and turnip-growing than in the butterfly doings of "_les éléments
étrangers_" in French watering places of to-day.

Throngs of strangers come to Pau to-day, and its thirty-five thousand
souls make a living from the visitors, instead of the ten thousand of a
century and a quarter ago.

The people of Pau, its business men at any rate, think their city is the
chief in rank of the Basses-Pyrénées. Figures do not lie, however, and
the local branch of the Banque de France ranks as number sixty-five in
volume of business done on a list of a hundred and twenty-six, while
Bayonne, the real centre of commercialism south of Bordeaux, is numbered
fifteen. In population the two cities rank about the same.

The real transformation of Pau into a city of pleasure is a work,
however, of our own time. It was in the mid-nineteenth century that the
capital of Béarn came to be widely known as a resort for semi-invalids.
Just what degree of curative excellencies Pau possesses it is not for
the author of this book to attempt to state, but probably it is its
freedom from cold north and east winds. Otherwise the winter climate is
wintry to a certain degree, and frequently damp, but an appreciable
mildness is often to be noted here when the Riviera is found in the icy
grip of the Rhône valley _mistral_.

The contrast of the new and the old at Pau is greatly to be remarked.
There are streets which the French describe as _neuves et coquettes_,
and there are others grim, mossy and as dead as Pompeii, as far as
present-day life and surroundings are concerned.

Formerly the river Hédas, or more properly a rivulet, filled the moat of
the château of the kings of Navarre, but now this is lacking.

The château has long been despoiled of its furnishings of the time of
Henri IV and his immediate successors. Nothing but the mere walls remain
as a souvenir of those royal days.

The palatial apartments have been in part destroyed, and in part
restored or remodelled, and not until Napoleon III were steps taken to
keep alive such of the mediæval aspect as still remained.

Pau, with all its charm and attraction for lovers of history and
romance, has become sadly over-run of late with diversions which
comport little enough with the spirit of other days. Fox-hunting, golf
tournaments and all the Anglo-Saxon importations of a colony of
indulgent visitors from England and America are a poor substitute for
the jousting tournaments, the _jeux de paume_ and the pageants of the
days of the brave king of Navarre. Still Pau, its site and its
situation, is wonderfully fine.

Pau is the veritable queen of the Pyrenean cities and towns, and mingles
all the elements of the super-civilization of the twentieth century with
the sanctity of memories of feudal times. The Palais d'Hiver shares the
architectural dignity of the city with the château, but a comparison
always redounds to the credit of the latter.

Below the terrace flows the Gave de Pau, and separates the verdant
faubourg of Jurançon from the parent city. The sunlight is brilliant
here, and the very atmosphere, whether it be winter or summer, is, as
Jean Rameau puts it, like the laughter of the Béarnais, scintillating
and sympathetic.

The memories of the past which come from the contemplation of the really
charming historical monuments of Pau and its neighbourhood are
admirable, we all admit, but it is disconcerting all the same to read in
the local paper, in the café, as you are taking your appetizer before
dinner, that "the day was characterized with fine weather and the Pau
fox-hounds met this morning at the Poteau d'Escoubes, some twenty
kilometres away to the north. A short run uncovered a fox in a spinny,
and in time he was 'earthed' near Lascaveries!"

This is not what one comes to the south of France to find, and the
writer is uncompromisingly against it, not because it is fox-hunting,
but because it is so entirely out of place.

The early history of the city of Pau is enveloped in obscurity. Some
sort of a fortified residence took shape here under Centulle IV in the
ninth century, and this noble vicomte was the first to be freed of all
vassalage to the Duc d'Aquitaine, and allowed the dignity of independent
sovereignty. On the occasion when the Bishop Amatus of Oloron, the
legate of the Pope Gregory VII, came to confer upon Centulle the title
of comte, in place of that of vicomte which he had inherited from his
fathers, a ceremony took place which was the forerunner of the brilliant
gatherings of later days. Says the chronicler: "The drawbridge of the
château lowered before the Papal Legate, and as quickly as possible he
delivered himself of the _mandement_ of the Pope, a document which meant
much to the future history of Béarn."

Pau owes its fame and prosperity to the building of a château here by
the Béarnais princes. To shelter and protect themselves from the
incursions of the Saracens a fortress-château was first built high on a
plateau overlooking the valley of the Ossau. Possession was taken of the
ground necessary for the site by a bargain made with the inhabitants,
whereby a certain area of paced-off ground was to be given, by the
original dwellers here, in return for the privilege of always being
present (they and their descendants) at the sittings of the court.

Just who built or planned the present Château de Pau appears to be
doubtful. Of course it is not a thoroughly consistent or homogeneous
work; few mediæval châteaux are. That master-builder Gaston certainly
had something to do with its erection, as Froissart recounts that when
this prince came to visit the Comte d'Armagnac at Tarbes he told his
host that "_il y a faisait édifier un moult bel chastel en la ville de
Pau, au dehors la ville sur la rivière du Gave_." The great tower is,
as usual, credited to Gaston, and it is assuredly after his manner.

Old authors nodded, and sometimes got their facts mixed, so one is not
surprised to read on the authority of another chronicler of the time,
the Abbé d'Expilly, that "the Château de Pau was built by Alain d'Albret
during the regency of Henri II, towards 1518." Favyn, in his "Histoire
de Navarre," says, "_Henri II fit bastir à Pau une maison assez belle et
assez forte selon l'assiette du pays_." These conflicting statements
quite prepare one to learn that Michaud in his "Marguerite de Valois"
says that that "friend of the arts and humanity" built the "Palais de
Pau." These quotations are given as showing the futility of any
historian of to-day being able to give unassailable facts, even if he
goes to that shelter under which so many take refuge--"original
sources."

One learns from observation that Pau's château, like most others of
mediæval times, is made up of non-contemporaneous parts. It is probable
that the original edifice served for hardly more than a country
residence, and that another, built by the Vicomtes de Béarn, replaced
it. This last was grand and magnificent, and with various additions is
the same foundation that one sees to-day. It was in the fifteenth
century that the present structure was completed, and the gathering and
grouping of houses without the walls, all closely hugging the foot of
the cliff upon which stood the château, constituted the beginnings of
the present city.

It was in 1464 that Gaston IV, Comte de Foix, and usurper of the throne
of Navarre, established his residence at Pau, and accorded his
followers, and the inhabitants of the immediate neighbourhood, such
privileges and concessions as had never been granted by a feudal lord
before. A parlément came in time, a university, an academy of letters
and a mint, and Pau became the accredited capital of Béarn.

[Illustration: Château de Pau]

The development of Pau's château is most interesting. It was the family
residence of the reigning house of Béarn and Navarre, and the same in
which Henri IV first saw light. In general outline it is simple and
elegant, but a ruggedness and strength is added by the massive donjon of
Gaston Phoebus, a veritable feudal pile, whereas the rest of the
establishment is built on residential lines, although well fortified.
Other towers also give strength and firmness to the château, and indeed
do much to set off the luxurious grace of the details of the main
building. On the northeast is the Tour de Montauset of the fourteenth
century, and also two other mediæval towers, one at the westerly and the
other at the easterly end. The Tour Neuve, by which one enters, does not
belie its name. It is a completely modern work. Numerous alterations and
repairs have been undertaken from time to time, but nothing drastic in a
constructive sense has been attempted, and so the _cour d'honneur_, by
which one gains access to the various apartments, remains as it always
was.

Within, the effect is not so happy. There are many admirable fittings
and furnishings, but they have been put into place and arranged often
with little regard for contemporary appropriateness. This is a pity; it
shows a lack of what may be called a sense of fitness. You do not see
such blunders made at Langeais on the Loire, for instance, where the
owner of the splendid feudal masterpiece which saw the marriage of Anne
de Bretagne with Charles VIII has caused it to be wholly furnished with
_contemporary_ pieces and decorations, _or excellent copies of the
period_. Better good copies than bad originals!

The châteaux of France, as distinct from fortified castles merely, are
what the French classify as "_gloires domestiques_," and certainly when
one looks them over, centuries after they were built, they
unquestionably do outclass our ostentatious dwellings of to-day.

There are some excellent Gobelin and Flemish tapestries in the Château
de Pau, but they are exposed as if in a museum. Still no study of the
work of the tapestry weavers would be complete without an inspection and
consideration of these examples at Pau.

The chief "curiosity" of the Château de Pau is the tortoise-shell cradle
of Henri of Béarn. It is a curio of value if one likes to think it so,
but it must have made an uncomfortable sort of a cradle, and the legend
connected with the birth of this prince is surprising enough to hold
one's interest of itself without the introduction of this doubtful
accessory. However, the recorded historic account of the birth of Henri
IV is so fantastic and quaint that even the tortoise-shell cradle may
well be authentic for all we can prove to the contrary.

There is a legend to the effect that Henri d'Albret, the grandfather of
Henri IV, had told his daughter to sing immediately an heir was born:
"_pour ne pas faire un enfant pleureux et rechigné_." The devoted and
faithful Jeanne chanted as she was bid, and the grandfather, taking the
child in his arms and holding it aloft before the people, cried: "_Ma
brebis a enfanté un lion._" The child was then immediately given a few
drops of the wine of Jurançon, grown on the hill opposite the château,
to assure a temperament robust and vigorous.

As every characteristic of the infant prince's after life comported well
with these legendary prophecies, perhaps there is more truth in the
anecdote than is usually found in mediæval traditions.

Another account has it that the first nourishment the infant prince took
was a "goutte" (_gousse_) of garlic. This was certainly strong
nourishment for an infant! The wine story is easier to believe.

The "Chanson Béarnais" sung by Queen Jeanne on the birth of the infant
prince has become a classic in the land. As recalled the Béarnais
_patois_ opened thus:--

    "Nostre dame deou cap deou poun, ajouda me a d'aqueste hore."

In French it will be better understood:--

    "Notre Dame du bout du pont,
     Venez à mon aide en cette heure!
        Priez le Dieu du ciel
        Qu'il me délivre vite;
        Qu'il me donne un garçon.
     Tout, jusqu'au haut des monts, vous implore.
        Notre Dame du bout du pont,
        Venez à mon aide en cette heure."

It was in the little village of Billère, on the Lescar road, just
outside the gates of Pau, that the infant Henri was put _en nourrice_.
The little Prince de Viane, the name given the eldest son of the house
of Navarre, was later confided to a relative, Suzanne de Bourbon,
Baronne de Miossens, who lived in the mountain château of Coarraze. The
education of the young prince was always an object of great solicitude
to the mother, Jeanne d'Albret. For instructor he had one La Gaucherie,
a man of austere manners, but of a vast erudition, profoundly religious,
but doubtful in his devotion to the Pope and church of Rome.

The child Henri continued his precocious career from the day when he
first became a _bon vivant_ and a connoisseur of wine. By the age of
eleven he had translated the first five books of Cæsar's Commentary, and
to the very end kept his literary tastes. He planned to write his
mémoires to place beside those of his minister, Sully, and the work was
actually begun, but his untimely death lost it to the world.

Another dramatic scene of history identified with the Pau château of the
D'Albrets was when Henri IV took his first armour. As he was
out-growing the early years of his youth, the queen of Navarre commanded
the appearance at the palace of all the governors of the allied
provinces.

The investiture was a romantic and imposing ceremony. The boy prince was
given a suit of coat armour, a shield and a sword. A day on horseback,
clad in full warrior fashion, was to be the beginning of his military
education.

All the world made holiday on this occasion; for three days little was
done by the retainers save to sing praises and shout huzzas for their
king to be. For the seigneurs and their ladies there were comedies and
dances, and for all the people of Gascogne who chose to come there were
great fêtes, cavalcades and open-air amusements on the plain of Pau
below the castle.

The culmination of the fête was on the evening of the third day. The
young prince of Navarre, dressed as a simple Béarnais, with only a gold
fleur-de-lis on his _béret_, as a mark of distinction, came out and
mingled with his people. As a finishing ceremony the prince took again
his sword, and, amid the shouts and acclamations of the populace,
plunged it to the hilt in a tall _broc_, or jug, of wine, and raised
it--as if in benediction--first towards the people, then towards the
army, then towards the ladies of the court--as a sign of an unwritten
pact that he would ever be devoted to them all.

The sun fell behind the crests of the Pyrenees just as this ceremony was
finished, and the youth, saluting the smiling king and queen,--his
father and mother--left with his "_gens d'armes pour faire le tour de sa
Gascogne_."

The memory of Henri Quatre remains wondrous vivid in the minds of all
the Béarnais, even those of the present day, and peasant and bourgeois
alike still talk of "_notre Henri_," when recounting an anecdote or
explaining the significance of some historic spot.

Well, why not! Henri lived in a day when men made their mark with a
firmer, surer hand, than in these days of high politics and
socialistics. The Béarnais never forget that Henri, Prince de Béarn--the
rough mountaineer, as he was called at Paris--was a joyous compatriot, a
lover and a poet, and that he knew the joys of passion and the sorrows
of suffering as well as any man of his time. The following old chanson,
sung to-day in many a peasant farmhouse of Béarn proves this:--

    "Le coeur blessé, les yeux en larmes,
     Ce coeur ne songe qu'à vos charmes,
     Vous êtes mon unique amour;
        Près de vous je soupire,
     Si vous m'aimez à votre tour,
     J'aurai tout ce que je désire...."

Under the reign of Louis XIV the inhabitants of Pau would have erected a
statue in honour of the memory of the greatest of all the Béarnais--of
course Henri IV--but the insistent Louis would have none of it, and told
them to erect a statue to the reigning monarch or none at all.

Nothing daunted the Béarnais set to work at once and an effigy of Louis
XIV rose in place of Henri the mountaineer, but on the pedestal was
graven these words: "_A ciou qu'ils l'arrahil de nouste grand Enric._"
"To him who is the grandson of our great Henri."

One of the great names of Pau is that of Jean de Gassion, Maréchal de
France. He was born at Pau in 1609. At Rocroi the Grand Condé embraced
him after the true French fashion, and vowed that it was to him that
victory was due. He was full of wise saws and convictions, and proved
himself one of France's great warriors. The following epigrams are
worthy of ranking as high as any ever uttered:--

"In war not any obstacle is insurmountable."

"I have in my head and by my side all that is necessary to lead to
victory."

"I have much respect, but little love for the fair sex." (He died a
_célibataire_.) "My destiny is to die a soldier."

"I get not enough out of life to divide with any one."

This last expression was gallant or ungallant, selfish or unselfish,
according as one is able to fathom it.

At any rate de Gassion was a great soldier and served in the Calvinist
army of the Duc de Rohan. The following "_mot_" describes his character:
"Will you be able to follow us?" asked de Rohan at the Battle of the
Pont de Camerety in Gascogne. "What is to hinder?" demanded the future
Maréchal of France, "you never go too fast for us, except in retreat."

He recruited a company of French for the aid of Gustavus Adolphus in his
campaign in Upper Saxony, and presented himself before that monarch on
the battle field with the following words: "Sire, I come with my
Frenchmen; the mention of your name has induced them to leave their
homes in the Pyrenees and offer you their services...." At the battle
of Leipzig (1631) Gassion and his men charged three times and covered
themselves with glory.

The "Histoire de Maréchal de Gassion," by the Abbé de Pure, and another
by his almoner Duprat, an "Eloge de Gassion" (appearing in the
eighteenth century), are most interesting reading. De Gassion it would
seem was one of the chief anecdotal characters of French history.

Another of the shining lights of Pau (though he was born at Gan in the
suburbs) was Pierre de Marca, an antiquarian whose researches on the
treasures of Béarn have made possible the writings of hundreds of his
followers. He was born in Pau a few years before Henri IV, and died an
Archbishop of Paris in 1689.

His epitaph is a literary curiosity.

    "Ci-git Monseigneur de Marca,
     Que le Roi sagement marqua
     Pour le Prelate de son Eglise,
     Mais la mort qui le remarqua
     Et qui se plait à la surprise
     Tout aussitôt le demarqua."



CHAPTER XVIII

LESCAR, THE SEPULCHRE OF THE BÉARNAIS


The antique city of Beneharnum is lost in modern Lescar, though, indeed,
Lescar is far from modern, for it is unprogressive with regard to many
of those up-to-date innovations which city dwellers think necessary to
their existence. Lescar was the religious capital of Béarn, and its
bishops were, by inheritance, presidents of the Parliament and Seigneurs
of their diocesan city.

Lescar is by turns gay and sad; it is gay enough on a Sunday or a fête
day, and sad and diffident at all other times, save what animation may
be found in its market-place. Architecture rises to no great height
here, and, beyond the picturesque riot of moss-grown roof-tops and
tottering walls, there is not much that is really remarkable of either
Gothic or Renaissance days. The ancient cathedral, with a weird
triangular façade, belongs to no school, not even a local one, and is
unspeakably ugly as a whole, though here and there are gems of
architectural decoration which give it a certain fantastic distinction.

Lescar is but a league distant from Pau, but not many of those who
winter in that delightful city ever come here. "The Normans razed it in
856, when it was rebuilt on the side of a hill in the midst of a wood."
This was the old chronicler's description, and it holds good to-day.
Usually travellers find the big cities like Pau or Tarbes so
irresistible that they have no eye for the charm of the small town. The
country-side they like, and the cities, and yet the dull, little, sleepy
old-world towns whose names are never mentioned in the newspapers, and
often nowhere but on the road maps of the automobilist, are possessed of
many pleasing attributes for which one may look in vain in more populous
places. Lescar has some of these, one of them being its Hôtel Uglas.

Lescar is a good brisk hour and a half's stroll from Pau, the classic
constitutional recommended by the doctors to the semi-invalids who are
so frequently met with at Pau, and is a humble, dull bourgade even
to-day, sleepy, rustic, and unprogressive, and accordingly a delightful
contrast to its ostentatious neighbour. Poor Lescar, its fall has been
profound since the days when it was the Beneharnum of the Romans. Its
bishopric has been shredded into nonentity, and its ancient cathedral
disfigured by interpolated banalities until one can hardly realize
to-day that it was once a metropolitan church.

St. Denis, as the old cathedral of Lescar is named, was once the royal
burial-place of Béarn, as was its namesake just outside of Paris the
sepulchre of the kings of France. Here the Béarnais royalties who were
kings and queens of Navarre came to their last long slumbers. Side by
side lie the Centulles and the D'Albrets.

The cathedral sits upon a terrace formed of the ancient ramparts of the
old city, and right here is the chief attraction and charm of Lascarris,
"_la ville morte_." Lascarris, as it was known before it became simply
Lescar, was built up anew after the primitive city had been destroyed by
the Saracens in 841.

This rampart terrace has one great architectural monument, formerly a
part of the ancient fortress, a simple, severe tower in outline, but of
most complicated construction, built up of bands of brick and stone in a
regular building-block fashion, a caprice of some local builder. Through
this tower one gains access to the cathedral, which shows plainly how
the affairs of church and state, and war and peace, were closely bound
together in times past. This little brick and stone tower is the only
remaining fragment of the fourteenth-century fortress-château known as
the Fort de l'Esquirette.

Within the cathedral were formerly buried Jeanne d'Albret, Catherine de
Navarre, Marguerite de Valois, and other Béarnais sovereigns, but no
monuments to be seen there to-day antedate the seventeenth century,
those of the Béarnais royalties having been destroyed either by the
Calvinists or later revolutionists. Catherine of Béarn was buried here
in the cathedral of Lescar in spite of her wish that she should be
entombed at Pamplona beside the kings of Navarre.

The ceremony of the funeral of Marguerite de Navarre is described in
detail in a document preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris.
It recounts that among those present were the kings of Navarre and
France, the Duchesse d'Estonteville, the Duc de Montpensier, M. le
Prince, the Duc de Nevers, the Duc d'Aumale, the Duc d'Étampes, the
Marquis du Mayne, M. de Rohan and the Duc de Vendomois, with the Vicomte
de Lavedan as the master of ceremony. As is still the custom in many
places in the Pyrenees, there was a great feasting on the day of the
interment, the chief mourners eating apart from the rest.

Charles de Sainte-Marthe wrote the funeral eulogy, in Latin and French,
and Ronsard, the prince of poets, wrote an ode entitled "Hymne
Triomphale." Three nieces of Jane Seymour, wife of Henry VIII of
England, composed four _distiques_, in Latin, Greek, Italian, and
French, entitled "Tombeau de Marguerite de Valois, Reine de Navarre."
Valentine d'Arsinois gave publicity to this work in the following words:
"Musarum decima, et charitum quarta, inclyta regum et soror et conjux
Margaris illa jacet."

This in French has been phrased thus:

    "Soeur et femme de roys, la reine Marguerite
     Des Muses la dixième et leur plus cher souci
        Et la quatrième Charité
     La reine du savoir gît sous ce marbre-ci."

Throughout the valley of the Gave d'Ossau, and from Lescar all the way
to Lourdes on the Gave de Pau, the chief background peak in plain view
is always the Pic du Midi d'Ossau. This the peasant of the neighbourhood
knows by no other name than "_la montagne_." "What mountain?" you ask,
but his reply is simply "_Je ne sais pas--la montagne._" It should not
be confounded with the Pic du Midi de Bigorre.

Between Pau and Lescar, lying just northward of the Gave, is the last
vestige of an incipient desert region called to-day La Lande de
Pont-Long. It now blossoms with more or less of the profusion which one
identifies with a land of roses, but was formerly only a pasture ground
for the herders of the Val d'Ossau, who, by a certain venturesome
spirit, crossed the Gave de Pau at some period well anterior to the
foundation of the city of Pau and thus established certain rights. It
was these sheep and cattle raisers who ceded the site of the new city of
Pau to the Vicomtes de Béarn.

Henri II de Navarre, grandfather of Henri IV, would have fenced off
these Ossalois, but every time he made a tentative effort to build a
wall around them they rose up in their might and tore it down again. In
vain the Béarnais of the valley tried to preëmpt the rights of the
_montagnards_, and willingly or not they perforce were obliged to have
them for neighbours. This gave saying to the local diction "_En despicit
deus de Pau, lou Pounloung ser sera d'Aussau_."

Intrigue, feudal warfare and oppression could do nothing towards
recovering this preempted land, and only a process of law, as late as
1837, finally adjudicated the matter, when the Ossalois were bound by
judgment to give certain reciprocal rights in their high valleys to any
of the lowland population who wanted to pasture their flocks in the
mountains for a change of diet. It is a patent fact that the sheep of
all the Midi of France thrive best in the lowlands in winter and in the
mountains in summer. It is so in the Pyrenees and it is so in the
Basses-Alpes, which in summer furnish pasturage for the sheep of the
Crau and the Camargue, even though they have to march three hundred or
more kilometres to arrive at it.

Closely allied with Lescar is the ancient capital of Béarn, Morlaas.
After the destruction of Lescar by the Normans Morlaas became the
residence of the Vicomtes de Béarn. Its history is as ancient and almost
as important as that of its neighbour. The Romans here had a mint and
stamped money out of the copper they took from the neighbouring hills.
The Visigoths, the Franks, the Ducs de Gascogne and the Vicomtes de
Béarn all held sway here for a time, and the last built a pretentious
sort of an establishment, the first which the town had had which could
be dignified with the name of a palace. This palace was called La
Fourquie and has since given its name to a hill outside the proper
limits of the present town, still known as Vieille Fourquie.

Morlaas is a mere nonentity to-day, though it was the capital of Béarn
from the time of the destruction of Lescar by the Saracens until the
thirteenth century, when the vicomtes removed the seat of the government
to Pau.

The town is practically one long, straight _grand rue_, with only short
tributary arteries running in and from the sides. The Église Sainte Foy
at Morlaas is a real antiquity, and was founded by Centulle, the fourth
vicomte, in 1089.

There are still vestiges of the ancient ramparts of the city to be seen,
and the great market held every fifteen days, on the Place de la
Fourquie, is famous throughout Béarn. Altogether Morlaas should not be
omitted from any neighbouring itinerary, and the local colour to be
found on a market day at Morlaas' snug little Hôtel des Voyageurs will
be a marvel to those who know only the life of the cities. Morlaas is
one of the good things one occasionally stumbles upon off the beaten
track; and it is not far off either; just a dozen kilometres or so
northwest of Pau. Morlaas' importance of old is further enhanced when
one learns that the measure of Morlaas was the basis for the measure
used in the wine trade of all Gascony, and the same is true of the
_livre morlan_, and the _sou morlan_, which were the monetary units of
Gascony and a part of Languedoc.



CHAPTER XIX

THE GAVE D'OSSAU


On ascending the Gave d'Ossau, all the way to Laruns and beyond, one is
impressed by the beauty of the snow-crested peaks before them, unless by
chance an exceptionally warm spell of weather has melted the snow, which
is quite unlikely.

You can name every one of the peaks of the Pyrenees with the maps and
plans of Joanne's Guide, but you will glean little specific information
from the peasants en route, especially the women.

"_Attendez, monsieur, je vais demander à mon mari_," said a buxom,
lively-looking peasant woman when questioned at Laruns. Her "mari" came
to the rescue as well as he was able. "_Ma foi, je ne sais pas trop_,"
he replied, "_mais peut être_....;" there was no use going any further;
all he knew was that the mountains were the Pyrenees, and were the peaks
high or low, to him they were always "les Pyrénées" or "_la montagne_."

Not far from Pau, on mounting the Gave d'Ossau, is Gan, one of the
thirteen ancient cities of Béarn. In a modest castle flanked by a tiny
pepper-box tower Pierre de Marca, the historian of Béarn, first saw the
light, some years after the birth of Henri IV.

A little further on, but hemmed in among the high mountains between the
valley of the Ossau and the Pau, is a tiny bourg bearing the incongruous
name of Bruges.

It is not a simple coincidence in name, with the well-known Belgium
port, because the records show that this old feudal _bastide_ was
originally peopled by exiled Flemings, who gave to it the name of one of
their most glorious cities. The details of this foreign implantation are
not very precise. The little bourg enjoyed some special privileges, in
the way of being immune from certain taxes, up to the Revolution. There
are no architectural monuments of splendour to remark at Bruges, and its
sole industries are the manufacture of _espadrilles_, or rope-soled
shoes, and _chapelets_, the construction of these latter "objects of
piety" being wholly in the hands of the women-folk.

[Illustration: _Espadrille-makers_]

Like many a little town of the Pyrenees, Laruns, in the Val d'Ossau, is
a reminder of similar towns in the Savoian Alps-Barcelonnette, for
instance. They all have a certain grace and beauty, and are yet
possessed of a hardy character which gives that distinction to a
mountain town which one lying in the lowlands entirely lacks. Here the
houses are trim and well-kept, even dainty, and the church spire and all
the dependencies of the simple life of the inhabitants speak volumes for
their health and freedom from the annoyances and cares of the big towns.

Laruns merits all this, and is moreover more gay and active than one
might at first suppose of a little town of scarce fifteen hundred
inhabitants. This is because it is a centre for the tourist traffic of
Eaux-Bonnes and Eaux-Chaudes, not greatly higher up in the valley.

There are many quaint old Gothic houses with arched windows and
doorways, and occasionally a curious old buttress, but all is so
admirably kept and preserved that the whole looks like a newly furbished
stage-setting. For a contrast there are some Renaissance house fronts of
a later period, with here and there a statue-filled niche in the walls,
and a lamp bracket which would be worth appropriating if that were the
right thing to do.

There is a picturesqueness of costume among the women-folk of Laruns,
too. They wear a sort of white cap or bonnet, covered with a black
embroidered fichu, and a coloured shawl and apron which gives them a
holiday air every day in the week. When it comes Sunday or a fête-day
they do the thing in a still more startling fashion. The coiffes and
costumes of France are fast disappearing, but in the Pyrenees, and in
Brittany, and in just a few places along some parts of the coast line
bordering upon the Bay of Biscay, they may still be found in all their
pristine quaintness.

The Fête Dieu procession (the Thursday after Trinity) at Laruns is an
exceedingly picturesque and imposing celebration. Here in the pious
cortège one sees more frequent exhibitions of the local costumes of the
country than at any other time or place. The tiny girls and the older
unmarried girls have all the picturesque colouring that brilliant
neckerchiefs, fichus and foulards can give, with long braided tresses
like those of Marguerite, except that here they are never golden, but
always sable. The matrons are not far behind, but are more sedately
clothed. The men have, to a large extent, abandoned the ancient costume
of their forefathers, save the _béret_ and a high-cut pantaloon, which
replaces the vest. But for these two details one finds among the men a
certain family resemblance to a carpenter or a boiler maker of Paris
out at Courbevoie for a happy Sunday.

The procession at the Fête Dieu at Laruns is very calm and dignified,
but once it is dispersed, all thoughts of religion and devoutness are
gone to the winds. Then commences the invariable dance, and they don't
wait for night to begin. Most likely this is the first _Bal d'Été_,
though usually this comes with Easter in France. The dance is the
passion of the people of the Pays d'Ossau, but this occasion is purely a
town affair, and you will not see a peasant or a herder from the
countryside among all the throng of dancers. Their great day in town
comes at quite another season of the year, in the autumn, in the summer
of Saint Martin, which in America we know as the Indian summer.

On the highroad, not far from Laruns, is a great oak known locally as
the "Arbre de l'Ours" because on more than one occasion in the past a
bear or a whole family of them has treed many an unfortunate peasant
travelling by this route. This may have been a danger once, but the
bears have now all retreated further into the mountains. They are not by
any means impossible to find, and not long since one read in the local
journal that three were killed, practically on the same spot, not far
above Laruns, and that a sporting Russian prince had killed two within a
week.

In the high valley of the Ossau the bear is still the national
quadruped, and the arms of the district represent a cow struggling with
a bear and the motto VIVA LA TACHA, which in French means simply VIVE LA
VACHE.

Near Laruns is the little village of Louvie-Soubiron which takes its
name from an ancient seigneurie of the neighbourhood. It has no artistic
embellishments worthy of remark, but on this spot was quarried the stone
from which were carved the symbolical statues of the great cities of
France surrounding the Place de la Concorde at Paris.

The ancient capital of Ossau was Bielle, and up to the Revolution the
assemblies of the ancient government were held here. It hardly looks its
part to-day. The population is but seven hundred, and it is not even of
the rank of a market-town. Traditions still persist, however, and
delegates from all over the Pays d'Ossau meet here at least once a year
to discuss such common interests as the safeguarding of forests and
pastures. In a small chamber attached to the little parish church is
preserved the ancient coffer, or strong box, of the old Republic of
Ossau. It is still fastened by three locks, the keys being in the
possession of the mayors of Bielle, of Laruns, and of Saint Colome.

Ten kilometres from Laruns is Eaux-Bonnes. Their virtues have been known
for ages. The Béarnais who so well played their parts at the ill-fated
battle of Pavia were transported thither that they might benefit from
these "waters of the arquebusade," as the generic name is known. A
further development came under the leadership of a certain Comte de
Castellane, préfet of the department under the great Napoleon. He indeed
was the real exploiter, applying some of the ideas which had been put
into practice in the German spas. He set to with a will and beautified
the little town, laid out broad tree-lined avenues, and made a veritable
little paradise of this rocky gorge. The little bourg is therefore
to-day what the French describe as "_amiable_," and nothing else
describes it better. The town itself is dainty and charming enough, but
mostly its architectural characteristics are of the villa order. The
church is modern and everybody is "on the make."

It is not that the population are swindlers,--far from it; but they
have discovered that by exploiting tourists and "_malades imaginaires_"
for three months in the year they can make as ample a living as by
working at old-fashioned occupations for a twelvemonth. A sign on one
house front tells you that a "Guide-Chasseur" lives there, and that he
will take you on a bear hunt--_prix à forfait_; which means that if you
don't get your bear you pay nothing to your guide; but you have given
him a fine ten-days' excursion in the mountains, _at your expense_ for
his food and lodging nevertheless, beside which he has had the spending
of your money for the camp equipment and supplies. He really would make
a very good thing, even if you did not have to pay him a bonus for every
bear sighted, not shot, mind you, for all the guide undertakes to do is
to point out the bear, if he can.

Another very business-like sign may be seen at Eaux-Bonnes,--that of a
transatlantic steamship company. They gather traffic, the steamship
agents, even here in the fastnesses of the Pyrenees, and Amerique du Sud
especially is still depopulating southern France.

Eaux-Chaudes is another neighbouring thermal station. As its name
implies, it is a _source_ of hot water, and was already famous in the
reign of Henri IV. The little community points out with pride that the
archives record the fact that this monarch "took the waters here with
much benefit."

The little Pyrenean village of Gabas lies high up the valley under the
shelter of the Pic du Midi d'Ossau. It is not greatly known to fame; it
is what the French call a hamlet with but a few chimneys. A late census
gave it twenty-three inhabitants, but probably the most of these have
departed in the last year or so to become _femmes de chambre_ and
_garçons de café_ in the big towns.

The place is, however, very ancient, and was the outgrowth of a little
settlement which surrounded a chapel built as early as 1121, and a sort
of resting-house or hospital for pilgrims who passed this way in
mediæval times. This establishment was known as Santa-Christina, and was
consecrated to the pilgrims going and coming from Saint Jacques de
Compostelle.

Plastered up recently on the wall of the mayor's office in the little
village was a placard addressed to the "Messieurs d'Ossau," by the
Conseiller d'Arrondissement. This singular form of address is a survival
of the ancient constitution of this little village, which, in times
past, when everything else round about was feudal or monarchial, was
sort of demi-republican. The "Messieurs d'Ossau" recognized no superior
save the Prince of Béarn, and considered him only as a sort of a titular
dignitary with no powers over them worth speaking of.

Here in the communes of Laruns and Arudy the peasants have certain
rights of free pasture for their flocks and herds, a legacy which came
originally through the generosity of Henri IV, and which no later rule
of monarchy or republic has ever been able to assail. The "Messieurs
d'Ossau" also had the ancient right of gathering about the same council
table with the Vicomtes of Béarn when any discussion of the lands
included in the territorial limits of Béarn was concerned.



CHAPTER XX

TARBES, BIGORRE AND LUCHON


There is a clean-cut, commercial-looking air to Tarbes, little in
keeping with what one imagines the capital of the Hautes-Pyrénées to be.
Local colour has mostly succumbed to twentieth-century innovations in
the train of great hotels, tourists and clubs. In spite of this, the
surrounding panorama is superb; the setting of Tarbes is delightful; and
at times--but not for long at a time--it is really a charming town of
the Midi. Tarbes possessed a château of rank long years ago; not of so
high a rank as that of Pau, for that was royal, but still a grand and
dignified château, worthy of the seigneurs who inhabited it. Raymond I
fortified the place in the tenth century, and all through the following
five hundred years life here was carried on with a certain courtly
splendour. To-day the château, or what is left of it, serves as a
prison.

The unlovely cathedral at Tarbes was once a citadel, or at least served
as such. It must have been more successful as a warlike accessory than
as a religious shrine, for it is about the most ungracious, unchurchly
thing to be seen in the entire round of the Pyrenees.

The chief architectural curiosity of Tarbes is the Lycée, on whose
portal (dated 1669) one reads: "May this building endure until the ant
has drunk the waters of the ocean, and the tortoise made the tour of the
globe." It seems a good enough dedication for any building.

The ever useful Froissart furnishes a reference to Tarbes and its inns
which is most apropos. Travellers even in those days, unless they were
noble courtiers, repaired to an inn as now.

The Messire Espaing de Lyon, and the Maître Jehan Froissart made many
journeys together. It was here under the shelter of the Pyrenees that
the maître said to his companion:

"Et nous vînmes à Tarbes, et nous fûmes tout aises à l'hostel de
l'Etoile.... C'est une ville trop bien aisée pour séjourner chevaux: de
bons foins, de bons avoines et de belles rivières."

Tarbes is something of an approach to this, but not altogether. The
missing link is the Hostel de l'Étoile, and apparently nothing exists
which takes the place of it. From the fourteenth century to the
twentieth century is a long time to wait for hotel improvements,
particularly if they have not yet arrived.

The great Marché de Tarbes is, and has been for ages, one of its chief
sights, indeed it is the rather commonplace modern city's principal
picturesque accessory, if one excepts its grandly scenic background.
Every fifteen days throughout the year the market draws throngs of
buyers and sellers from the whole region of the western Pyrenees.

In the very midst of the most populous and wealthy valleys and plains of
the Pyrenees, one sees here the complete gamut of picturesque peoples
and costumes in which the country abounds. Here are the Béarnais, agile
and gay, and possessed of the very spirit associated with Henri IV. They
seat themselves among their wares, composed of woollen stuffs and
threads, pickled meats, truffles, potatoes, cheeses of all sorts,
agricultural implements--mostly primitive, but with here and there a
gaudy South Bend or Milwaukee plough--porcelain, coppers, cattle, goats,
sheep and donkeys, and a greater variety of things than one's
imagination can suggest. It is almost the liveliest and most populous
market to be seen in France to-day. The gaudy umbrellas and tents cover
the square like great mushrooms. There are much picturesqueness and
colour, and lively comings and goings too. This is ever a contradiction
to the reproach of laziness usually applied to the care-free folk of the
Midi.

In olden times the market of Tarbes was the resort of many Spanish
merchants, and they still may be distinguished as donkey-dealers and
mule traders, but the chief occupants of the stalls and little squares
of ground are the dwellers of the countryside, who think nothing of
coming in and out a matter of four or five leagues to trade a side of
bacon--which they call simply _salé_--for a sheep or a goat, or a sheep
or a goat for a nickel clock, made in Connecticut. It's as hard for the
peasant to draw the line between necessities and superfluities as it is
for the rest of us, and he is often apt to put caprice before need.

Neighbouring close upon Tarbes is the ancient feudal bourg of Ossun,
which most of the fox-hunters of Pau, or the pilgrims of Lourdes, know
not even by name. It's only the traveller by road--the omnipresent
automobilist of to-day--who really stands a chance of "discovering"
anything. The art of travel degenerated sadly with the advent of the
railway and the "personally conducted pilgrimage," but the automobile
is bringing it all back again. The bicycle stood a chance of
participating in the same honour at one time, but folk weren't really
willing to take the trouble of becoming a vagabond on wheels.

Ossun was the site of a Roman camp before it became a feudal stronghold,
and with the coming of the château and its seigneurs, in the fifteenth
century, it came to a prominence and distinction which made of it nearly
a metropolis. To-day it is a dull little town of less than two thousand
souls, but with a most excellent hotel, the Galbar, which is far and
away better (to some of us) than the popular hotels of Pau, Tarbes or
Luchon.

The château of Ossun, or so much of it as remains, was practically a
fortress. What it lacks in luxury it makes up for in its intimation of
strength and power, and from this it is not difficult to estimate its
feudal importance.

The Roman camp, whose outlines are readily defined, was built, so
history tells, by one Crassus, a lieutenant of Cæsar. It was an
extensive and magnificent work, a long, sunken, oblong pit with four
entrances passing through the sloping dirt walls. Four or five thousand
men, practically a Roman legion, could be quartered within.

It was from the Château d'Odos, near Tarbes, in the month of December,
1549, that the Queen of Navarre observed the comet which was said to
have made its appearance because of the death of Pope Paul III. Says
Brantome: "She jumped from her bed in fright at observing this celestial
phenomenon, and presumably lingered too long in the chill night, for she
caught a congestion which brought about her death eight days later, 21st
December, 1549, in the fifty-eighth year of her age." According to
Hilarion de Coste her remains were transported to Pau, and interred in
the "_principal église_," but others, to the contrary, say that she was
buried in the great burial vault at Lescar. This is more likely, for an
authentic document in the Bibliothèque Nationale describes minutely the
details of the ceremony of burial "_dans l'antique cathédrale de
Lescar_."

On the Landes des Maures, near by, was celebrated a bloody battle in the
eighth century between the Saracens and the inhabitants of the country.
Gruesome finds of "skulls of extraordinary thickness" have frequently
been made on this battlefield. Just what this description seems to augur
the writer does not know; perhaps some ethnologist who reads these
lines will. At any rate the combatants must have died _hard_.

[Illustration: _A Shepherd of Bigorre_]

Following up the valley of the Adour one comes to the Bagnères de
Bigorre in a matter of twenty-five kilometres or so. Bagnères de Bigorre
is a hodge-podge of a name, but it is the "Bath" of France, as an
Englishman of a century ago called it. There are other resorts more
popular and fashionable and more wickedly immoral, such as Vichy, Aix
les Bains and even Luchon, but still Bigorre remains the first choice.
From the times of the Romans, throngs have been coming to this charming
little spot of the Pyrenees where the mineral waters bubble up out of
the rock, bringing health and strength to those ill in mind and body.
Pleasure seekers are here, too, but primarily it is the baths which
attract.

There are practically no monuments of bygone days here, but fragmentary
relics of one sort or another tell the story of the waters from Roman
times to the present with scarcely a break.

Arreau, seven leagues from Bigorre, towards the heart of the Pyrenees,
through the Val d'Arreau, certainly one of the most picturesquely
unspoiled places in all the Pyrenees, is a relic of mediævalism such as
will hardly be found elsewhere in the whole chain of mountains from the
Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Its feudal history was fairly important,
but its monuments of the period, save its churches and its market house
or "Halle," have practically disappeared. Whatever defences there may
have been, have been built into the town's fine stone houses and
bridges, but the Roman tower of St. Exupère, and the primitive church
now covered by Notre Dame show its architectural importance in the past.

By reason of being one of the gateways through the Pyrenees into Spain
(by the valley of the Arreau and the _portes_, so called, of Plan and
Vielsa) Arreau enjoys a Franco-Espagnol manner of living which is quaint
beyond words. It is the nearest thing to Andorra itself to be found on
French soil.

Luchon is situated in a nook of the Larboust surrounded with a rural
beauty only lent by a river valley and a mountain background. The range
to the north is bare and grim, but to the southward is thickly wooded,
with little eagles'-nest villages perched here and there on its flanks
and peaks, in a manner which leads one to believe that this part of the
Pyrenees is as thickly peopled as Switzerland, where peasants fall out
of their terrace gardens only to tumble into those of a neighbour
living lower down the mountain-side.

The surroundings of Luchon are indeed sublime, from every point of view,
and one's imagination needs no urging to appreciate the sentiment which
is supposed to endow a "nature-poet." Yes, Luchon is beautiful, but it
is overrun with fashionables from all over the world, and is as gay as
Biarritz or Nice. "_La grande vie mondaine_" is the key-note of it all,
and if one could find out just when was the off-season it would be
delightful. Of late it has been crowded throughout the year, though the
height of fashion comes in the spring. Outside of its sulphur springs
the great world of fashion comes here to dine and wine their friends and
play bridge.

Luchon has a history though. As a bathing or a drinking place it was
known to the Romans as _Onesiorum Thermæ_ and was mentioned by Strabo as
being famous in those days.

There were many pagan altars and temples here erected to the god
Ilixion, which by evolution into Luchon came to be the name by which the
place has latterly been known.

In 1036, by marriage, Luchon was transferred from the house of Comminges
to that of Aragon, but later was returned to the Comtes de Comminges
and finally united with France in 1458 under Charles VII, retaining,
however, numerous ancient privileges which endured until the end of the
seventeenth century.

This was the early history of Luchon. Its later history began when, in
1754, the local waters were specially analyzed and a boom given to a
project to make of the place a great spa.

The city itself is the proprietor of all the springs and its
administrative sagacity has been such that fifty thousand visitors are
attracted here within the year.



CHAPTER XXI

BY THE BLUE GAVE DE PAU


The Gave de Pau, a swiftly-flowing stream which comes down from its icy
cradle in the Cirque de Gavarnie and joins with the Adour near Bayonne's
port, winds its way through a gentle, smiling valley filled with
gracious vistas, historic sites and grand mountain backgrounds.

Next to the æsthetic aspects of the Gave de Pau are its washhouses. The
writer in years of French travel does not remember to have seen a stream
possessed of so many.

One sees similar arrangements for washing clothes all over France, but
here they are exceedingly picturesque in their disposition, and the
workers therein are not of the Zola-Amazon type, nor of the withered
beldam class. How much better they wash than others of their fraternity
elsewhere is not to be remarked.

There are municipal washhouses in some of the larger towns of France,
great, ugly, brick, cement and iron structures, but as the actual
washing is done after the same manner as when carried on by the banks of
a rushing river or a purling brook there is not much to be said in their
favour that cannot as well be applied to the washhouses of Pau, Oloron
or Orthez in Navarre, and artist folk will prefer the latter.

Coarraze, twenty kilometres above Pau, on the banks of the Gave, is a
populous centre where the hum of industry, induced by the weavers who
make the _toile du Béarn_, is the prevailing note. _Toile du Béarn_ and
_chapelets_ are the chief output of this little bourg, and many francs
are in circulation here each Saturday night that would probably be
wanting except for these indefatigable workers who had rather bend over
greasy machines at something more than a living wage, than dig a mere
existence out of the ground.

The little bourg is dull and gray in colour, only its surroundings being
brilliant. Its situation is most fortunate. Opposite is a great
tree-covered plateau, a veritable terrace, on which is a modern château
replacing another which has disappeared--"_comme un chevreau en
liberté_," says the native.

[Illustration: _Château de Coarraze_]

It was in this old Château de Coarraze that the youthful Henri IV was
brought up by an aunt, _en paysan_, as the simple life was then
called. Perhaps it was this early training that gave him his later
ruggedness and rude health.

The château has been called royal, and its construction has been
attributed to Henri IV, but this is manifestly not so. Only ruined walls
and ramparts, and the accredited facts of history, remain to-day to
connect Henri IV with the spot.

The château virtually disappeared in a revolutionary fury, and only the
outline of its former walls remains here and there. A more modern
structure, greatly resembling the château at Pau, practically marks the
site of the former establishment endowed with the memory of Henri IV's
boyhood.

Froissart recounts a pleasant history of the Château de Coarraze and its
seigneur. A certain Raymond of Béarn had acquired a considerable
heritage, which was disputed by a Catalan, who demanded a division.
Raymond refused, but the Catalan, to intimidate his adversary,
threatened to have him excommunicated by the Pope. Threats were of no
avail, and Raymond held to his legacy as most heirs do under similar
claims. One night some one knocked loudly at Raymond's door.

"Who is there?" he cried in a trembling voice.

"I am Orthon, and I come on behalf of the Catalan."

After a parley he left, nothing accomplished, but returned night after
night in some strange form of man or beast or wraith or spook or
masquerader and so annoyed Raymond that he was driven into madness, the
Catalan finally coming to his own.

At Nay, Gaston Phoebus is said to have built a sort of modest country
house which in later centuries became known simply as La Maison Carrée.
Perhaps Gaston Phoebus built it, and perhaps he did not, for its
architecture is of a very late Renaissance. At any rate it has a
charming triple-galleried house-front, quite in keeping with the spirit
of mediævalism which one associates with a builder who has "ideas" and
is not afraid of carrying them out, and this was Gaston's reputation.
The house is on record as having one day been occupied by the queen of
Navarre, Jeanne d'Albret.

Just beyond Coarraze is Betharrem whose "Calvary" and church are
celebrated throughout the Midi. From the fifteenth of August to the
eighth of September it is a famous place of pilgrimage for the faithful
of Béarn and Bigorre, a veritable New Jerusalem. Its foundation goes
back to antiquity, but its origin is not unknown, if legend plays any
part in truthful description.

One day, too far back to give a date, a young and pious maiden fell
precipitately into the Gave. She could not swim and was sinking in the
waters, when she called for the protection of the Virgin Mary. At that
moment a tree trunk, leaning out over the river, gave way and fell into
the waters; the maiden was able to grasp it and keep afloat, and within
a short space was drifted ashore. There is nothing very unplausible
about this, nothing at all miraculous; and so it may well be accepted as
a legend based on truth.

A modest chapel was built near at hand, by some pious folk, to
commemorate the event, or perhaps it was built--as has been claimed--by
Gaston IV himself, on his return from the Crusades in the middle of the
twelfth century. The latter supposition holds good from the fact that
the place bears the name of the city by the Jordan.

Montgomery burned the chapel during the religious wars, but again in the
seventeenth century, Hubert Charpentier, _licencié_ of the Sorbonne,
came here and declared that the configuration of the mountain resembled
that where took place the crucifixion, and accordingly erected a Calvary
dedicated to "Our Lady," "in order," as he said, "to revivify the faith
which Calvinism had nearly extinguished."

Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre, lying midway between Pau and Lourdes, is an ideally
situated, typical small town of France. It is not a resort in any sense
of the word, but might well be, for it is as delightful as any Pyrenean
"station" yet "boomed" as a cure for the ills of folk with imaginations.

It is a genuine garden-city. Its houses, strung out along the banks of
the Gave, are wall-surrounded and tree-shaded, nearly every one of them.
But one hotel extends hospitality at Saint Pé to-day, but soon there
will be a dozen, no doubt, and then Saint Pé will be known as a centre
where one may find "_all the attractions of the most celebrated
watering-places_."

To-day Saint Pé depends upon its ravishing site and its historic past
for its reason for being. It derives its name from the old Abbey of
Saint-Pé-de-Générès (Sanctus Petrus de Generoso), founded here in the
eleventh century, by Sanchez-Guillaume, Duc de Gascogne, in
commemoration of a victory. This monastery, with its abbatial church,
was razed during the religious wars by the alien Montgomery who outdid
in these parts even his hitherto unenviable cruelties. The church was
built up anew, from such of its stones as were left, into the present
edifice which serves the parish, but nothing more than the tower and the
apse are of the original structure.

To Lourdes is but a dozen kilometres by road or rail from Saint Pé. In
either case one follows along the banks of the Gave with delightful
vistas of hill and dale at every turn, and always that blue-purple
curtain of mountains for a background.

Lourdes is perhaps the most celebrated, if not the most efficacious,
pilgrim-shrine in all the world. It's a thing to see, if only to remark
the contrasting French types among the pilgrims that one meets
there--the Breton from Pont Aven or Quimperlé, the Norman from the Pays
de Caux, the Parisian, the Alsaçien, the Niçois and the Tourangeau. All
are here, in all stages of health and sickness, vigorous and crippled.
The shrine of "Our Lady of Lourdes" is all things to all men. Lourdes is
a beastly, unclean, and uncomfortable place in which to linger, in spite
of its magnificent situation, and its great and small hotels with all
manner of twentieth-century conveniences.

It's a plague-spot on fair France, looking at it from one point of view;
and a living superstition of Christendom from another. The medical men
of France want to close it up; the churchmen and hotel keepers want to
keep it open. Arguments are puerile, so there the matter stands; and
neither side has gained an appreciable advantage over the other as yet.

Lourdes was one day the capital of the ancient seigneurie,
Lavedan-en-Bigorre, and at that time bore the name of Mirambel, which in
the _patois_ of the region signified beautiful view. Originally it was
but a tiny village seated at the foot of a rock, and crowned by the same
château which exists to-day, and which in its evolution has come down
from a _castellum-romain_, a Carlovingian bastille, a Capetian and
English prison of state, a hospital for the military, a barracks, to
finally being a musée.

Of the château of the feudal epoch nothing remains save two covered
ways, the donjon, a sixteenth-century gate and a drawbridge, this latter
probably restored out of all semblance to its former outlines. One of
these covered ways gave access to the upper stages with so ample a sweep
that it became practically a horse stairway upon which cavaliers and
lords and ladies reined their chargers.

[Illustration: CHÂTEAU DE LOURDES]

The donjon is manifestly a near relation to that of Gaston Phoebus at
Foix, though that prince had no connection with the château.
Transformation has changed all but its outlines, its fosse has become a
mere sub-cellar, and its windows have lost their original proportions.

The Château de Lourdes was undoubtedly a good defence in its day in
spite of its present attenuated appearance. In 1373 it resisted the
troops of Charles V, commanded by the Duc d'Anjou. Under the ancient
French monarchy its career was most momentous, though indeed merely as a
prison of state, or a house of detention for political suspects. Many
were the "_lettres de cachet_" that brought an unwilling prisoner to be
caged here in the shadow of the Pyrenees, as if imbedded in the granite
of the mountains themselves.

The rock which supports the château rises a hundred metres or so above
the Gave. A great square mass--the donjon--forms the principal
attribute, and was formerly the house of the governor. This donjon with
a chapel and a barracks has practically made up the ensemble in later
years.

Here, on one of the counterforts of the Pyrenees, just beyond the grim
old château, and directly before the celebrated Pic du Ger, now
desecrated by a cog-railway, where the seven plains of Lavedan blend
into the first slopes of the mountains, were laid the first stones of
the Basilique de Lourdes in 1857.

Previously the site was nothing more than a moss-grown grotto where
trickled a fountain that, for ages, had been the hope of the incurably
ill, who thought if they bathed and drank and prayed that miracles would
come to them and they would be made whole again.

The fact that the primitive, devout significance of this sentiment has
degenerated into the mere pleasure seeking of a mixed rabble does not
affect in the least the simple faith of other days. The devout and
prayerful still come to bathe and pray, but they are lost in the throng
of indiscriminately "conducted" and "non-conducted" tourists who make of
the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes a mere guide-book sight to be checked
off the list with others, such as the Bridge of Sighs, the Pyramids of
Gizeh, the Tour Eiffel, or Hampton Court,--places which once seen will
never again be visited.

To-day only the smaller part of the visitors, among even the French
themselves, excepting the truly devout, who are mostly Bretons--will
reply to the question as to whether they believe in Lourdes: "_Oui,
comme un article de foi_."

No further homily shall be made, save to say that the general aspect of
the site is one of the most picturesque and enchanting of any in the
Pyrenees--when one forgets, or eliminates, the signs advertising
proprietary condiments and breakfast foods.

It doesn't matter in the least whether one Frenchman says: "_C'est ma
Foi_;" or another "_C'est un scandale_;" the landscape is gloriously
beautiful. Of the Grotto itself one can only remark that its present-day
garnishings are blatant, garish and offensive. The great, slim basilica
rises on its monticule as was planned. It has been amply endowed and
extravagantly built. Before it is a _perron_, or more properly a
_scala-sancta_, and the whole is so theatrically disposed, with a great
square before it, that one can quite believe it all a stage-setting and
nothing more.

As a place of pilgrimage, Lourdes is perhaps the most popular in all the
world, certainly it comes close after Jerusalem and Rome. Alphonse
XIII, the present ruler of Spain, made his devotions here in August,
1905.

Argelès is practically a resort, and has the disposition of a Normandy
village; that is, its houses are set about with trees and growing
verdure of all sorts. For this reason it is a delightful garden city of
the first rank.

Argelès' chief attraction is its site; there are no monuments worth
mentioning, and these are practically ruins. Argelès is a watering-place
pure and simple, with great hotels and many of them, and prices
accordingly.

Above Argelès the Gave divides, that portion to the left taking the name
of Gave de Cauterets, while that to the right still retains the name of
Gave de Pau.

Cauterets has, in late years, become a great resort, due entirely to its
waters and the attendant attractions which have grouped themselves
around its _établissement_. The beneficial effect of the drinking or
bathing in medicinal waters might be supposed to be somewhat negatived
by bridge and baccarat, poker and "_petits chevaux_" but these
distractions--and some others--seem to be the usual accompaniments of a
French or German spa.

[Illustration: _Cauterets_]

"_C'est le premier jour de septembre que les bains des Pyrénées
commencent à avoir de la vertu._" Thus begins the prologue to
Marguerite de Navarre's "Heptameron." The "season" to-day is not so
late, but the queen of Navarre wrote of her own experiences and times,
and it is to be presumed she wrote truly.

A half a century ago Cauterets was a dirty, shabby village, nearly
unknown, but the exploiter of resorts got hold of it, and with a few
medical endorsements forthwith made it the vogue until now it is as trim
and well-laid-out a little town as one will find.

The town is a gem of daintiness, in strong contrast to the surrounding
melancholy rocks and forests of the mountainside. Peaks, approximating
ten thousand feet in height, rise on all sides, and dominate the more
gentle slopes and valleys, but still the general effect is one of a
savage wildness, with which the little white houses of the town, the
electric lights and the innumerable hotels--a round score of
them--comport little. Certainly the beneficial effects accruing to
semi-invalids here might be supposed to be great--if they would but
leave "the game" alone.

A simple mule path leads to the Col de Riou back of Cauterets, though it
is more frequented by tourists on foot than by beasts of burden.

Here on the Col itself, in plain view of the Pic du Midi and its sister
peaks, the Touring Club has erected one of those admirable guide-book
accessories, a "_table d'orientation_."

On its marbled circumference are traced nearly three hundred
topographical features of the surrounding landscape, and a study of this
well-thought-out affair is most interesting to any traveller with a
thought above a table d'hôte. Throughout the region of the Pyrenees
these circular "_tables d'orientation_," with the marked outlines of all
the surrounding landscape, are to be found on many vantage grounds. The
principal ones are:--

On the Ramparts of the Château de Pau.

The Col d'Aspin.

The Col de Riou.

Platform of the Tour Massey at Tarbes.

Platform de Mouguerre.

Summit of the Pic du Midi.

Summit of the Cabaliros.

Summit of the Canigou.

Over the Col de Riou and down into the Gave de Pau again, and one comes
to Luz. Luz is curiously and delightfully situated in a triangular basin
formed by the water-courses of the Gave de Pau and the Gave de Barèges.
Practically Luz is a _ville ancienne_ and a _ville moderne_, the older
portion being by far the most interesting, though there is no squalor
or unusual picturesqueness. Civic improvements have straightened out
crooked streets and razed tottering house fronts and thus spoiled the
picture of mediævalism such as artists--and most others--love.

A ruined fortress rises on a neighbouring hill-top which gives a note of
feudal times, but the general aspect of Luz, and its neighbouring pretty
suburb of St. Sauveur, each of them possessed of thermal establishments,
are resorts pure and simple, which, indeed, both these places were bound
to become, being on the direct route between Pau and Tarbes and
Gavarnie, and neighbours of Cauterets and Barèges.

Barèges lies just eastward of Luz on a good carriage road. Like
Bagnères-de-Bigorre, it is an oddly named town which depends chiefly
upon the fact that it is a celebrated thermal station for its fame. It
sits thirteen hundred metres above the sea, and while bright and smiling
and gracious in summer, in winter it is as stern-visaged as a harpy, and
about as unrelenting towards one's comfort. Only this last winter the
mountain winds and snows caved in Barèges' Casino and a score of houses,
killing several persons. There is no such a storm-centre in the
Pyrenees. Barèges has got a record no one will envy, though the efficacy
of its waters makes them worthy rivals of those of Bigorre and
Cauterets.

The fame of Barèges' waters goes back to the days of the young Duc du
Maine, who came here with Madame de Maintenon, in 1667, on the orders of
the doctor of the king. In 1760 a military hospital was founded here to
receive the wounded of the Seven Years War.

Barèges is one of the best centres for mountain excursions in the
Pyrenees. The town itself is hideous, but the surroundings are
magnificent.

Above Saint Sauveur, Luz and Cauterets, in the valley of the Gaube,
rises the majestic Vignemale, whose extreme point, the Pic Longue,
reaches a height of three thousand, two hundred and ninety-eight metres,
which is the greatest height of the French Pyrenees. In the year 1808,
on the occasion of the coming of the Queen of Holland, spouse of Louis
Bonaparte, to the Bains de Saint Sauveur, an unknown muse of poesy sang
the praise of this great mountain as follows:--

    "Roi des Monts: Despote intraitable.
     Toi qui domine dans les airs,
     Toi dont le trône inabordable
     Appelle et fixe les éclairs!
     Fier Vignemale, en vain ta cime
     S'entoure d'un affreux abime
     De niège et de débris pierreux;
     Une nouvelle Bérénice
     Ose, à côte du précipice,
     Gravir sur ton front sourcilleux!"

Each of the thermal stations in these parts possesses its own special
peak of the Pyrenees. Luchon has the Nethou; Bigorre the Pic du Midi de
Bagnères; Eaux-Bonnes the Balaitous; Eaux-Chaudes the Pic du Midi
d'Ossau; Vernet the Canigou and Saint Sauveur and Cauterets the
Vignemale.

The Vignemale, composed of four peaks, each of them overreaching three
thousand, two hundred metres, encloses a veritable river of ice. Its
profound crevasses and its _Mer de Glace_ remind one of the Alps more
than do the accessories of any other peak of the Pyrenees.

The ascension of the Vignemale, from Cauterets or Luz, is the classic
mountain climb of the Pyrenees. No peak is more easy of access, and none
gives so complete an idea of the ample ranges of the Pyrenees, from east
to west, or north to south.



CHAPTER XXII

OLORON AND THE VAL D'ASPE


Oloron, at the confluence of the Gave d'Ossau and the Gave d'Aspe, has
existed since Roman times, when it was known as Iluro, finally changing
to Oloro and Olero. It was sacked by the Saracens in 732, and later
entirely ruined by the Normans. Centulle, Vicomte de Béarn,
reëstablished the city, and for a time made it his residence.

The roads and lanes and paths of the neighbourhood of Oloron offer some
of the most charming promenades of the region, but one must go on foot
or on donkey-back (the latter at a cost of five francs a day) to
discover all their beauties. The highroads of the Pyrenees are a speedy
and a short means of communication between two points, but the delicate
charm of the region is only discovered by following the by-roads, quite
away from the beaten track.

Oloron will some day be an artists' resort, but it hasn't been exploited
as such yet. It sits delightfully on the banks of the two Gaves, and
has all the picturesqueness that old tumble-down Gothic and Renaissance
houses and bridges can suggest, the whole surrounded with a verdure and
a rocky setting which is "all things to all (painter) men."

In reality Oloron is a triple city, each quite distinct from one
another: Sainte-Marie, the episcopal city, with the cathedral and the
bishop's palace; Sainte-Croix, the old feudal bourg; and the Quartier
Neuve, the quarter of the railway station, the warehouses and all the
smug commercialism which has spoiled many a fair landscape elsewhere.

The feudal Sainte-Croix has character; the episcopal Sainte-Marie
dignity. In Sainte-Croix the houses rise up from the surface of the Gave
in the most entrancing, damp picturesqueness imaginable as the waters
flow swiftly down towards Orthez. Back from the river, the houses are
mounted on tortuous hillsides, with narrow, silent streets, as if they
and their inhabitants all lived in the past. On the very crest of the
hill is the Église Sainte-Croix, founded in the ninth century by one of
the Vicomtes de Béarn, a monument every whit as interesting as the great
cathedral lower down.

The diocese of Saint-Marie d'Oloron was the least wealthy of any of
mediæval France. Its government allowance was but thirteen thousand
francs, and this sum had to be divided with the Bishop of Lescar. On the
other hand, the city of Oloron itself was important and wealthy in its
own right.

In the Faubourg of Sainte-Croix one remarks as real a mediævalism as
exists anywhere in France to-day. Its streets are narrow and silent, and
therein are found many examples of domestic habitations dating back to
Roman times. These are very rare to-day, even in southern Gaul, where
the hand of progress is supposed to be weak. Interspersed with these
Romanesque houses are admirable works of the Gothic and Renaissance
periods. There is very little that is modern.

Of the old city walls but little evidence remains. A kind of rampart is
seen here and there built into other structures, and one, at least, of
the watch-towers is left, of the dozen or more that once existed.
Sainte-Croix still has, however, an archaic aspect which bids fair not
to change within the lives of the present generation.

The chief industries of Oloron are the making of _espadrilles_, and the
weaving of "toile du Béarn," a species of linen with which housewives
all over these parts stock their linen closets once in a lifetime, and
which lasts till they die, or perhaps longer, and is handed down to
their daughters and granddaughters.

Another echo of Protestantism in Béarn still reverberates at Oloron. A
one-time Bishop of Oloron, a protégé of Marguerite de Navarre, became a
disciple of Martin Luther. He was named Roussel, and had been a
professor of philosophy in the University of Paris. He had travelled in
Germany, had met Luther, and had all but accepted his religion, when,
returning to Béarn, he came into favour with the learned Marguerite, who
nominated him Bishop of Oloron. He hesitated between the two religions,
knowing not which to take. Meantime he professed both one and the other;
in the morning he was for Rome, and in the evening for Luther; and
preaching thus in the churches and temples he became a natural enemy of
both parties. One day he was summarily despatched by a blow with a
hatchet which one of his parishioners had concealed upon his person as
he came to church. For this act the murderer was, in the reign of Henri
IV, made Bishop of Oloron in the unworthy Roussel's place.

Six kilometres from Oloron, at Eysus, a tiny hamlet too small to be
noted in most guide books, is an old _Château de Plaisance_ of the
Vicomtes de Béarn. Folks had the habit, even in the old days, of living
around wherever fancy willed--the same as some of us do to-day. It has
some advantages and not many disadvantages.

Back of Oloron, towards the foot-hills of the Pyrenees, is another of
those little kingdoms which were scattered all over France, and which
only geographers and antiquarians know sufficiently well to be able to
place offhand. This is the Barétous, and very curious it is with the
survival of its old customs and costumes. Up to Aramits the routes are
much frequented, but as one penetrates further into the fastnesses of
the mountains, there is an immense sadness that is as entrancing as the
most vivid gaiety. Pushing through to the Spanish frontier, fifty
kilometres or more beyond Aramits, a whole kaleidoscope of mountain
charms unrolls itself at every step.

At the Spanish frontier limit, a quaint and curious ceremony is held on
the thirteenth of July in each year by the Baretains and their Spanish
neighbours. The Baretains, by an ancient right, pasture their flocks up
in the high valleys of the Ronçal, and, to recognize the right of the
Ronçalois to keep them out of their pasturage if they so chose, the
Baretains pay them homage. The ceremony is carried out before a notary,
seven _jurats_ being the representatives of the Baretains, each armed
with a pike, as are the representatives of Ronçal. The first lay down
their pikes before the latter, and, in a second layer, their points
turned towards the Béarnais capital, are placed those of the Ronçalois.
Then a shout of acclamation goes up and rends the air: "Patz abantz!
Patz abantz! Patz abantz!--Peace for the future!" This is the signal for
a general rejoicing, and a merry-making of dancing and eating and
drinking, not far different from other fêtes. It is the setting that
makes it so remarkable, and the quaint costumes and customs of the men
and women of two nations mingling in a common fête.

This Franco-Espagnol ceremony is accomplished with much éclat on a
little square of ground set off on the maps of the État Major as "Champ
de Foire Français et Espagnol." Tradition demands that three cows be
given or offered to the Spanish by the French for the privilege of
pasturage over the border in the Spanish valleys. The cows are loosed on
the _Champ de Foire_, and if they remain for half an hour without
crossing the line into France again they belong to the Spanish. If, on
the other hand, one or more cross back into France they remain the
property of the French.

Formerly three horses were used for this part of the function, but as
they were bound to have a white star on the forehead, and as that
variety of beast is rare in these parts, a compromise was made to carry
out the pact with the cows.

The most historic spot in the Gave d'Aspe is unquestionably Sarrance.
Notre Dame de Sarrance is a venerable and supposedly miraculous statue.
Numbers of pilgrims have visited the shrine in times past, among them
the none too constant Louis XI, who, if he was devoted to Our Lady of
Cléry and Notre Dame de Embrun, was ready to bow down before any whom he
thought might do him a good turn.

Certainly Sarrance's most favourite memory is that of the celebrated
Marguerite de Navarre. If she did not write, she at least conceived the
idea of her "Heptameron" here, if history is to be believed.

The title page of this immortal work reads as follows,

                 L'HEPTAMERON

    "des nouvelles de très illustré et très excellente
     princesse, Marguerite de Valois, Reine de Navarre."

The history of the inception of these tales is often inexactly recounted
at this late day, but in the main the facts seem to be as follows:--

In September (1549?), when the queen and her followers were journeying
from Cauterets to Tarbes, the waters of the Gave overflowed their banks
and destroyed the bridge of Sarrance. The party stopped first at the
Abbaye de Saint Savin, and again at the Monastère de Notre Dame de
Sarrance. Ten days were necessary to repair the bridge which had been
carried away, and time apparently hung heavy on the hands of every one.
To break the ennui of their sojourn in the company of these austere
monks of Sarrance, the royal party sought what amusements they might.

In the morning all met with the Dame Oysille, the eldest of the company,
when they had an hour's reading of the Scriptures. After this there was
a mass; then at ten o'clock they dined; finally each retired to his
room--"_pour ses affaires particulières_," says the old
record--presumably to sleep, though it was early in the day for that. In
the afternoon ("_depuis midi jusques à quatres heures_," ran the old
chronicle) they all assembled in the meadow by the river's bank beneath
the trees, and each, seated at his ease, recounted such salacious
satires and tales as would have added to the fame of Boccaccio. This
procedure went on until the tellers of tales were interrupted by the
coming of the prior who called them to vespers.

These tales or "_contes_," or "_petites histoires_," or whatever one
chooses to call them, free of speech and of incident as was the custom
of the time, were afterwards mothered by the queen of Navarre, and given
to the world as the product of her fertile mind. Judging from their
popularity at that time, and since, the fair lady must have been a
wonderful storyteller.

The gentle slopes of a prairie along the banks of the Gave near by is
the reputed spot where these tales were told,--a spot "where the sun
could not pierce the thick foliage," certainly romantically and
picturesquely endowed. The site is charming, and one can picture the
scene all out again for himself if he is possessed of the least bit of
imaginative sense.

Still following the valley of the Aspe upward, one comes next to Bedous,
really a pretentious little city, but unheard of by conventional
travellers. Everything begins to take on a Spanish hue, and the church,
dating from 1631, is more Spanish than French in its architecture and
all its appointments. All the commercial life of the valley centres
here, and a mixed Franco-Espagnol traffic goes on. It is principally the
trading of cattle, sheep and wool, with an occasional porker or a donkey
sold, or bargained for, on the side. Bedous has been marked out as being
the terminus of a railway line yet to be built. Until the times shall be
propitious for pushing the railway on into Spain the town will remain
simply what it has been for centuries. When that day comes, much of the
charm of the region will be gone. The automobile is no such desecrator
as the railway, let scoffers say what they will.

In the valley of the Aspe, with snow-capped mountains in full view,
there is a surprising softness of climate all through the year. In this
valley was the last refuge of Protestantism in the days of the religious
wars, and the little village of Bedous still possesses a "temple" and a
"pastor."

Above Bedous, towards the crest of the Pyrenees, is Accous, and as one
progresses things become more and more Spanish, until the sign
"_Posada_" is as frequent as "_Auberge_."

Accous offers no curiosities to visitors, but it was here that Victor
Hugo gave the last glimpses of Jean Valjean when the police were close
upon his trail; "at the place called the _Grange de Doumec_, near the
hamlet of Chavilles," ran the romance.

From this point the valley of the Aspe opens almost perpendicularly into
the heart of the rock wall of the Pyrenees; it is a veritable chasm in
its upper reaches; and in this rocky defile was once a tiny feudality,
absorbed and later wiped into oblivion by the Revolution.

Beyond Sarrance are Urdos and Somport and the fortress of Portalet. The
route was known to the ancients as that through which the Saracens came
from Spain to over-run southern Gaul. Somport was the _Summus Pyreneus_
of the old-time historians of the Romans.



CHAPTER XXIII

ORTHEZ AND THE GAVE D'OLORON


Orthez is another of those cities of the Pyrenees which does not live up
to its possibilities, at least not in a commercial sense. Nevertheless,
some of us find it all the more delightful for that. It is a city where
the relics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance are curiously
intermingled, and if one within its walls so chose he could imagine
himself as living in the past as well as in the present, and this in
spite of the fact that the city has been remodelled and restored in
certain quarters out of all semblance to its former self.

There is little or nothing remaining of that time which Froissart
described with such minuteness when writing of the court at Orthez'
château.

All that remains of this great pile is the Tour de Moncade, but from its
grandeur and commanding site one realizes well enough that in its time
it was hardly overshadowed by the better preserved edifices at Pau and
Foix.

At the northeast of Orthez, on a hill overlooking the city is an
ancient, rectangular tower, its sides mellowed by ages, and its crest in
ruins.

"_Savez-vous ce que sont ces ruines?_" you ask of any one, and they will
tell you that it is all that remains of the fine chateau of Gaston
Phoebus. Fêtes and crimes were curiously intermingled within its
walls, for always little rivulets of blood flowed in mediæval times as
the accompaniment of the laughter of the feast.

Gaston de Foix, after the burning of his château, came to Orthez in the
thirteenth century, and began the citadel of Orthez--the
"_château-noble_" of the chronicles of Froissart. The edifice played an
important rôle in the history of Béarn.

At that time Gaston was a vassal of Edward III of England who was then
making a Crusade in the East. On his return he found this
"_château-noble_" already built, and his surprise was great, for he knew
not what it portended. He concluded that it could only mean the
rebellion of his vassal, and he ordered the Seneschal of Gascony to
demand the surrender of the property. When this was refused Edward
seized it and all the domains of Béarn, and sent Gerard de Laon as envoy
to put the new political machinery in running order. The envoy entered
Orthez without the least obstacle being put in his way, but in an
instant the gates were closed and he was made a prisoner. Irritated by
this outrage, Edward, at the head of an imposing army, marched on
Orthez. Gaston, seized with fear, lost his head, and made up his mind to
surrender before he was attacked. No protestations of future devotion to
his overlord would, however, be accepted, and Edward made him prisoner
on the spot. To regain his liberty, Gaston promised to turn over the
"Fortresse d'Orthez" but, when he was set free, he established himself
with a doubled garrison behind his walls and prepared for resistance.
Edward pleaded for justice and honourable dealing, and a quarrel, long
and animated, followed. The affair took on such proportions that the
Pope sent his legate, as an intermediary, to make peace. Gaston would
hear of no compromise, and called upon the king of France to take his
part. A sort of council was finally arranged, during which Gaston became
so exasperated that he threw his glove in the face of the English king.
He begged the king's pardon afterwards, and an agreement was reached
whereby everything was left as it had been before the quarrel began.

Many imperishable souvenirs are left of the reign at Orthez of the
brilliant Gaston de Foix, when tourneys and fêtes followed in rapid
succession. It was Orthez' most brilliant epoch.

It was here, to the court of Gaston Phoebus, that Messire Jehan
Froissart came, in 1388, and stayed three weeks and some of his most
brilliant pages relate to this visit. Of his host, the chronicler said:
"_De toutes choses il est si parfait_."

Gaston Phoebus was so powerful and magnificent a seigneur in his own
right, and his castle at Orthez was such a landmark of history that
Louis XI--who conceded little enough to others as a usual thing--said to
his followers as he was passing through Béarnais territory on a
pilgrimage: "_Messeigneurs, laissez l'epée de France, nous sortons ici
du royaume_."

Gaston Phoebus was the most accomplished seigneur of his time, and he
had for his motto "_Toquos-y se gaasos_"--"Attack who dares."

One day, in the month of August, 1390, on returning from a bear hunt,
greatly fatigued, he was handed a cup from which to drink. He drank from
the cup and instantly expired. Was he poisoned? That is what no one
knows. It was the custom of the time to make away with one's enemies
thus, and in this connection one recalls that Gaston himself killed
his own son because he would not eat at table.

[Illustration: _The Pont d'Orthez_]

Orthez was deserted by the court for Pau, and in time the natural
destruction of wind and weather, and the hand of man, stripped the
château to what one sees to-day.

The Pont d'Orthez is a far better preserved monument of feudal and
warlike times, and it was a real defence to the city, as can be readily
understood by all who view it. Its four hardy arches span the Gave as
they did in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It was from the
summit of one of the sentinel towers of this most remarkable of mediæval
bridges that the soldiers of Montgomery obliged the monks to throw
themselves into the river below. The "Brothers of the Bridge" were a
famous institution in mediæval times, and they should have been better
treated than they usually were, but too frequently indeed they were
massacred without having either the right or the means to defend
themselves.

The history of Montgomery's connection with Orthez, or more particularly
the Pont d'Orthez, reads almost as if it were legend, though indeed it
is truth. The story is called by the French historians "La Chronique de
la Tour des Caperas."

Jeanne d'Albret, the mainstay of Protestantism in her day, wished to
make Orthez the religious capital, and accordingly she built here a
splendid church in which to expound the theories of Calvin and brought
"professors" from Scotland and England to preach the new dogma. Orthez
became at once the point of attack for those of the opposite faith, and
as horrible a massacre as was ever known took place in the streets of
Orthez and gave perhaps the first use of the simile that the river
flowed as a river of blood. Priests and monks were the special prey of
the Protestants, while they themselves were being attacked from without.
One by one as they were hunted out from their hiding-places the priests
and lay brothers were pushed from the parapet of the bridge into the
Gave below. If any gained the banks by swimming they were prodded and
stabbed by still other soldiery with lances, and from this great
_noyade_ the great Tour des Caperas became known as the Tour des
Prêtres.

To-day Montauban and Orthez have relatively the largest Protestant
populations of any of the cities of France.

The old Route Royale between Bayonne and the capital of Béarn and
Navarre passed through Orthez, and the same narrow streets, irregular,
badly paved, and badly kept up, are those which one traverses to-day on
entering and leaving the city. One great improvement has been made in
the ancient quarter of the town--though of course one does not know what
historical souvenirs it may have supplanted--and that is the laying out
of a _mail_ or mall, planted on either side with great elms, and running
from the banks of the Gave to the fine fifteenth-century--but still
Gothic--church, well at the centre of the town.

The "_jambons de Bayonne_" are mostly cured at Orthez, and it is indeed
the leading industry of the city. The porkers of Orthez may not be corn
fed, but they are well and cleanly nourished, which is more than can be
said of many "domesticated pigs" in New and Old England, which are eaten
with a great relish by those who have brought them up.

In the religious wars Orthez played a grand rôle, and in 1814 it was the
scene of one of the great struggles of France against alien invasion of
her territory. Just north of the city, on the height of a flanking hill,
Wellington--at the head of a force very much superior, let no one
forget--inflicted a bloody defeat on Maréchal Soult. The Duc de Dalmatie
lost, it is recorded, nearly four thousand men, but he wounded or
killed six thousand in the same engagement. General Foy here received
his fourth wound on the field of battle.

Orthez is one of the really great feudal cities of the south of France.
In the ninth century it was known as Orthesium, and belonged to the
Vicomtes de Dax, who, only when they were conquered by Gaston III,
Prince of Béarn, ceded the city to the crown of Béarn and Navarre.

It was in the château of Orthez that the unfortunate Blanche of
Castille, daughter of the king of Aragon, was poisoned by her sister,
the wife of Gaston IV, Comte de Foix. This was one of the celebrated
crimes of history, though for that matter the builder of the château,
the magnificent (_sic_) Gaston Phoebus, committed one worthy to rank
with it when he killed his brother and "propre fils" on the mere
suspicion that they might some day be led to take sides against him.

Orthez flourished greatly under its Protestant princes, but it waned and
all but dwindled away in the unpeaceful times immediately following upon
the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The cessation of the practice of
the arts of industry, and very nearly those of commerce, left the city
poor and impoverished, and it is only within recent generations that it
has arisen again to importance.

The donjon of Moncade is all that remains of the once proud château
where Gaston Phoebus held more than one brilliant court on his
excursions beyond the limits of his beloved Foix. It dominates the whole
region, however, and adds an accentuated note of grimness to the
otherwise gay melody of the Gave as it flows down to join the Adour from
the high valleys of the Pyrenees.

On the opposite hillside is a memorial in honour of the brave General
Foy, which will recall to some the victory of Wellington over Soult, and
to others, who have not forgotten their Dumas, the fact that it was
General Foy who first gave the elder Dumas his start as writer of
romances.

Salies de Béarn is a near neighbour of Orthez, and can be omitted from
no Pyrenean itinerary. The bustling little market-town and
watering-place combined dates, as to the foundation of its great
industry, back to the tenth century, when the Duc de Gascogne gave to
the monks of the Monastery of Saint Pé an establishment ready fitted
that they might commence the industry of recovering salt from the
neighbouring salt springs. All through mediæval times, and down as late
as 1840, the industry was carried on under the old concession.

All the distractions of a first-class watering-place may be had here
to-day, and the "season" is on from May to September. The city is the
birthplace of Colonel Dambourges, who became famous for his defence of
Quebec against the English in 1775.

At Salies is still the house which sheltered Jeanne d'Albret when she
took the waters here, and not far away is the spot where died Gaston
Phoebus, as he was returning from a bear hunt. These two facts taken
together make of Salies hallowed historic ground.

At Salies de Béarn one recalls a scrap of literary history that is
interesting; Dumas père certainly got inspiration for the names of his
three _mousquetaire_ heroes from hereabouts. Not far away is
Athos--which he gave to the Comte de la Fère, while Aramits and Artagnan
are also near-by. In any historical light further than this they are all
unimportant however.

Six kilometres to the northward is the Château de Bellocq, a fine
mediæval country house (fourteenth century), though unroofed to-day, the
residence of Jeanne d'Albret when she sojourned in the neighbourhood.
The walls, flanked with four great round towers, are admirably
preserved, and the vaulting and its ribs, two square towers and a great
entrance gate show the manner of building of the time with great detail.

Five leagues from Orthez, on a little valley plain, watered by the Gave
d'Oloron, is the tiny little city of Navarreux. Its population is scarce
above a thousand, but it is the centre of affairs for twenty-five
communes, containing perhaps twelve thousand souls. It is a typical,
bustling, little Pyrenean metropolis, and the comings and goings on
market-day at the little Hôtel de France are as good an illustration of
the life and manners of a people of small affairs as one will find in a
year of travel.

Henri d'Albret of Navarre picked out the site of the city in the midst
of this fertile plain, and planned that it should increase and multiply,
if not in population, at least in prosperity, though it was at first a
"private enterprise," like Richelieu's garden-city in Touraine.

The preëminence of Navarreux was short lived. Henri d'Albret had built
it on the squared-off, straight-street, Chicago plan, had surrounded it
with walls, and even had a fortress built by Vauban, in the expectation
of making it the commercial capital of the Pyrenees, but man proposes,
and the lines of communication or trade disposes, and many a
thought-to-be-prosperous town has finally dwindled into impotency. There
was a good deal in the favour of Navarreux; its situation was central,
and it was surrounded by a numerous population, but its dream was over
in a couple of hundred years and the same year (1790) saw both its
grandeur and its decadence.

To-day it remains still a small town, tied to the end of an omnibus line
which runs out from Orthez a dozen or fifteen kilometres away. The
fortifications of Vauban are still there and a remarkable old city gate,
called the Porte St. Antoine, a veritable gem of feudal architecture.
The very dulness and disappointment of the place appeal to one hugely.
One might do worse than doze away a little while here after a giddy
round at Pau or Biarritz. Navarreux is of the past and lives in the
past; it will never advance. As a fortress it has been unclassed, but
its walls one day guarded--as a sort of last line of defence--the route
from Spain via Ronçevaux and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. In those days it
certainly occupied a proud position in intent and in reality, as its
citadel sat high on a little terrace-plateau, dominated in turn by
the red dome of its church still higher up. The effect is still much the
same, impotent though the city walls and ramparts have become.

[Illustration: The Walls of Navarreux]

The route into Navarreux from the south is almost a tree-shaded
boulevard, and crosses the Gave on an old five-arched bridge, so narrow
that one vehicle can scarcely pass,--to say nothing of two. This
picturesque bridge was also the work of Henri d'Albret, the founder of
the primitive city. This first foundation was a short distance from the
present village. Its founder in a short time came to believe he had made
a mistake, and that the bourg as it was placed would be too difficult to
defend, so he tore it down in real northwest Dakota fashion, and built
the present city. Louis XIV and Vauban had great plans for it, and would
have done much, but Oloron in time relieved it of all pretensions to a
distinction, as, in turn, Pau robbed Oloron.

Between Navarreux and Sauveterre, along the Gave d'Oloron, is a whole
string of little villages and hamlets whose names are scarcely ever
mentioned except by the local postman. It is a winsome valley, and the
signs of civilization, pale though they be, throw no ugly shadows on the
landscape. Midway between these two little centres is Audaux, which
possesses a vast seventeenth-century château, flanked with a series of
high coiffed pavilions and great domes, like that of Valençay in
Touraine.

Its history is unimportant, and is rather vague, but a mere glance at
its pompous ornateness is a suggestion of the great contrast between the
châteaux of the north and centre of France and those of the Midi. In the
north the great residential châteaux, as contrasted with the
fortress-châteaux, were the more numerous; here the reverse was the
case, and the feudal château, which was more or less of a fortress,
predominated. The Château d'Audaux, sitting high on its own little
plateau, and surrounded by great chestnut trees, is almost the peer of
its class in these parts--from a grandiose architectural view point at
any rate.

Sauveterre, twenty kilometres from Navarreux, is one of those old-time
bourgs which puts its best side forward when viewed from a distance.
Really it is nothing but a grim old ruin, so far as its appeal for the
pilgrim goes. Close acquaintance develops a squalor and lackadaisical
air which is not in the least in keeping with that of its neighbours. It
is the ensemble of its rooftops and its delightful site which gives
Sauveterre almost its only charm. In the Middle Ages it was a fortified
town which played a considerable part in olden history. To-day the sole
evidence that it was a place of any importance is found in a single
remaining arch of its old bridge, surmounted by a defending tower
similar to those which guard the bridges at Orthez and Cahors, but much
smaller.

There is another relic still standing of Sauveterre's one-time
greatness, but it is outside the town itself. The grim, square donjon of
the old Château de Montréal rises on a hilltop opposite the town, and
strikes the loudest note of all the superb panorama of picturesque
surroundings. It was the guardian of the fate of Sauveterre in feudal
times, and it is the guardian, or beacon, for travellers by road to-day
as they come up or down the valley.

Within the town there is, it should be mentioned, a really curious
ecclesiastical monument, the thirteenth-century church, with a
combination of Romanesque and Gothic construction which is remarkable;
so remarkable is it that in spite of its lack of real beauty the French
Government has classed it as a "_Monument Historique_." The sublime
panorama of the Pyrenees frames the whole with such a gracious splendour
that one is well-minded to take the picture for the sake of the frame.
This may be said of Tarbes as well, which is a really banal great town,
but which has perhaps the most delightful Pyrenean background that
exists.

Sauveterre is another centre for the manufacture of rope-soled
_espadrilles_, which in Anglo-Saxon communities are used solely by
bathers at the seaside, but which are really the most comfortable and
long-enduring footwear ever invented, and are here, and in many other
parts of France, worn by a majority of the population.

Up out of the valley of the Oloron and down again into that of the
Bidouze, a matter of eighteen or twenty kilometres, and one comes to
Saint-Palais which formerly disputed the title of capital of French
Navarre with Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. This was because Henri d'Albret,
king of Navarre, established his _chancellerie_ here after the loss of
Pamplona to Spain.

Saint-Palais is what the French call a "_ville mignonne_." Nothing else
describes it. It sits jauntily perched on a tongue of mother earth, at
the juncture of the Joyeuse and the Bidouze, and its whitewashed houses,
its tiled roofs and its washed-down dooryards and pavements suggest
that some of its inhabitants must one day have been in Holland, a place
where they pay more attention to this sort of house-cleaning than
anywhere else.

Saint-Palais has no historical monuments; all is as new and shining as
Monte Carlo or the Digue at Ostend, but its history of long ago is
important. Before 1620 it was the seat of the sovereign court of French
Navarre and possessed a mint where the money of the little state was
coined.

The most distinctive architectural monument of Saint-Palais, the modern
church and the hybrid Palais de Justice being strictly ineligible, is
the _fronton_ for the game of _pelote_, Saint-Palais being one of the
head centres for the sport.

Arthur Young, a great traveller, an agriculturist, and a writer of
repute, passed this way in 1787. He made a good many true and just
observations, more or less at hazard, of things French, and some others
that were not so just. The following can hardly be literally true, and
if true by no means proves that Jacques Bonhomme is not as good a man as
his cousin John Bull, nor even that he is not as well nourished.
"_Chacun à son gout!_" He said, writing of the operation of getting
dinner at his inn: "I saw them preparing the soup, the colour of which
was not inviting; ample provision of cabbage, grease and water, and
about as much meat, for a score of people, as half a dozen Suffolk
farmers would have eaten, and grumbled at their host for short commons."
What a condemnation to be sure, and what an unmerited one! The receipt
is all right, as far as it goes, but he should have added a few leeks, a
couple of carrots and an onion or two, and then he would have composed a
_bouilli_ as fragrant and nourishing as the Englishman's chunks of
blood-red beef he is for ever talking about. Our "agriculturist" only
learned half his lesson, and could not recite it very well at that.

In the midst of a great plain lying between Saint-Palais,
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Bayonne, perhaps fifty kilometres south of
the left bank of the Adour, are the neighbouring little towns of Iholdy
and Armendarits. The former is the market town of a vast, but little
populated, canton, and a village as purely rustic and simple as one
could possibly imagine. Iholdy and its few unpretentious little shops
and its quaint unworldly little hotel caters only to a thin population
of sheep and pig growers, and their wants are small, save when they go
afield to Peyrehorade, St. Jean or Bayonne. One eats of the products of
the country here, and enjoys them, too, even if mutton, lamb and little
pig predominate. The latter may or may not be thought a delicacy, but
certainly it was better here than was ever met with before by the writer
of these lines; and no prejudice prevented a second helping.

Armendarits, Iholdy's twin community, saw the birth of Renaud
d'Elissagory, who built what was practically the first gunboat. The
birthplace of "_Petit Renaud_," as he was, and is still, affectionately
called, the inventor of _galiotes à bombes_, is still inhabited and
reckoned as one of the sights of these parts.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE BIRTH OF FRENCH NAVARRE

[Illustration]


Basse-Navarre or Navarre-Française, together with Béarn, made, under the
Emperor Hadrian, a part of Aquitaine.

The Roman conquest of Gaul was the first impetus given towards a
coherent massing of the peoples. Formerly there had been many tribes and
races, but the three divisions made by the Romans reduced things to a
minimum. Cisalpine Gaul was that part where the inhabitants wore a sort
of adaptation of the Roman toga. In Trans-Alpine Gaul, situated in the
Rhône basin and along the Mediterranean between Italy and Spain, the
inhabitants wore _braies_ or _bragues_--a sort of jacket extending down
almost to the knees, a detail of dress which has evolved itself into the
blouse, and perhaps even the great cloak of the mountaineers of the
Pyrenees. The remainder of ancient Gaul was known as the country where
the natives wore their long hair hanging,--literally the _Gaule
chevelue_.

Through the times of Cæsar the divisions became indifferently known by
various names, until with Augustus there came to be four great
divisions, the Narbonnaise, Aquitaine, Lyonnaise and Belgique.

Towards the fifth century the Vascons, or Gascons, the ancient
inhabitants of Spanish Cantabria, established themselves snugly in these
well protected valleys of the Pyrenees. They warred with the Saracens,
and for five centuries were in a continual uproar of battle and
bloodshed.

Among themselves, the dukes and counts of Gascogne quarrelled
continuously, and disputed the sovereignty of the country with the
Vicomtes de Béarn.

In the ninth century a treaty was consummated which assured to Bernard,
Comte d'Armagnac, the Comté de Gascogne, and to Gaston de Centulle the
suzerainty of Béarn, while Navarre came by heritage to the Comtes de
Champagne, and in the thirteenth century to Philippe-le-Bel as a dot
with Jeanne, his wife. In the same manner it came to the house of Evreux
through Jeanne II, daughter of Louis-le-Hutin.

With the marriage of Blanche II, the grand-daughter of Jeanne II,
Navarre passed to the king of Aragon and to Eléonore, and later with the
Comté de Foix et de Bigorre and the Vicomté de Béarn, went to Jean,
Sieur d'Albret, with whom the history of the kingdom is so commonly
associated.

Jean d'Albret II, by reason of his marriage with Catherine of Béarn, the
heiress to the crown of Navarre, became joint ruler of the kingdom. He
was a gentle, easy-going prince, liberal, but frivolous, and loved no
serious occupation in life. He was popular to excess and dined, say the
chronicles, "without ceremony, with any one who asked him," a custom
which still obtains with many who are not descendants of a king of
Navarre. He danced frequently in public with the wives and daughters of
his subjects, a democratic proceeding which was not liked by his court,
who told him that he "danced on a volcano." This in a measure was true,
for he lost that part of the kingdom known as Spanish Navarre to
Ferdinand of Aragon.

Up to the commencement of the sixteenth century, the Royaume de Navarre
occupied both slopes of the Pyrenees and had Pamplona for its capital,
but in 1512, Ferdinand the Catholic, of Aragon, with the approbation of
the Pope, usurped most of the territory and left the king of Navarre,
the legitimate sovereign, only a small morsel eight leagues long by five
in width, with St. Jean-Pied-de-Port as its principal city.

A picturesque figure was Ferdinand, King of Aragon on his own part, King
of Castille by his wife Isabella, and King of Grenada by conquest; "a
heritor of three bastard crowns," he was called. At his death he was
succeeded by the infamous and cruel Charles V.

That which remained, French Navarre, was the portion of the united
kingdom lying on the French slopes of the Pyrenees. The loss of the
Spanish province was really due to the excommunication of Jean d'Albret
and Catherine by the Pope, thus giving the Catholic Ferdinand power to
compel a division.

The then ruling monarchs of Béarn and Navarre came to a sad realization
of their position. It was this circumstance which gave birth to one of
the famous _mots_ of history. "If we had not been born, we would not
have lost Navarre," said the unhappy Catherine to her spouse.

Previously, though, the region had been known as Basse-Navarre; and in
Spanish, Navarra Baja, and had had its _États_ or _Parlement_, and its
own special laws. Its _Parlement_ was composed of three orders, the
clergy, the noblesse and the _tiers_. Two great families stood out in
Basse-Navarre in these times above all others, the Seigneurs de Grammont
et Bidache and those of Lux and Ostabat. Béarn at the time was composed
of twelve ancient baronies, the bishoprics of Lescar and Oloron, and the
seigneuries of Navailles, Andoins, Lescun, Correze, Miossens, Arros and
Lons.

French Navarre--the Navarre-Française--was by this time a reality and
has been variously known since to historians; to the French as
Basse-Navarre and Navarre du Nord; to the Spaniards as Navarra Baja; to
the Basques as Navarra-deca-ports, and Navarra-françia; and to the
kings of France as the Royaume de Navarre.

Henri, son of Jean d'Albret, married the first Marguerite de Valois,
sister of François I, the "Marguerite of Marguerites." The only daughter
of this marriage was wed with Antoine Bourbon-Vendome and became the
mother of Henri IV.

By an edict of 1620 Louis XIII united the crown of France with that of
Navarre, Béarn and the other patrimonial states. Such is the evolution
of the little Royaume de Navarre and its incorporation into French
domain.

The king of Navarre's title was a formidable one, and even included the
word monsieur. Princes, bishops, popes and saints were at that time
known as Monsieur, a title even more dignified than Monseigneur, and the
"_Messieurs de France_" were as much of the noblesse of France as were
the "_Milords d'Angleterre_" of the nobility of England.

The full title of the king of Navarre in the fifteenth century was as
follows:--

Monsieur François-Phoebus, par la grace de Dieu, Roi de Navarre, Duc
de Nemours, de Guandi, de Montblanc et de Penafiel, et, par la même
grace Comte de Foix, Seigneur de Béarn, Comte de Bigorre et de
Rivegorce, Vicomte de Castelbon, de Marsau, Gavardan et Nébouzan,
Seigneur de la ville de Valaguer et Pair de France.

[Illustration:

                   Catherine de Foix et Jean III d'Albret
                   -------------------+------------------
                                      |
    ---+--------+-----+----+-----+-------+----------+--------------+---
       |        |     |    |     |       |          |              |
   Madeleine  Jean  Andre  |     |       |          |              |
                           |     |       |          |              |
              +------------+  +--+       |          |              |
              |               |          |          |              |
          Henri I         Isabelle,    Anne,    Catherine,  "Fils naturel"
     de Béarn et II de     Married    Married   who became   of Jean III
     Navarre--d'Albret.     René,      Jean,   the abbesse     d'Albret.
         1517-1555.        Vicomte     Comte      of La        He became
      Married, in 1527,   de Rohan   d'Astarac  Trinite at     Évêque de
         Marguerite                              Caen in       Comminges
        d'Angouleme,                             Normandy
          Duchesse
         d'Alençon
      [Maltese Cross]1549
                |
            +--------+----------+-------------+---------------+
            |                   |             |               |
     Jeanne d'Albret.         Jean        Princesse       Princesse
        1555-1572.
    Married (1), in 1541,
  Guillaume Duc de Cleves.
This marriage annulled 1545.
   Married (2), in 1548,
    Antoine de Bourbon.
    [Maltese Cross]1562
            |
--------+---+-----------+--------+-------+--------+--------+--------
        |               |        |       |        |        |
Henri de Bourbon      Louis      |   Princesse    |        |
Duc de Beaumont   Comte de Marl  |                |        |
                                 |                |        |
                                 |                |        |
            +--------------------+   +------------+        |
            |                        |                     |
    Henri II de Béarn,           Catherine,             Charles
 III de Navarre (1572) et       who married           "Batart du
       IV de France,             Henri de                Roi."
     Called le Grand.            Lorraine,          He also became
   Married (1), in 1572,        Duc de Bar             Évêque de
   Marguerite de Valois                                Comminges
    whom he repudiated                              and afterwards
  in 1599, (she died 1615                             Archevêque
     sans posterity).                                  de Rouen
   Married (2), in 1600,
     Marie de Medici
    [Maltese Cross]1642
            |
       Louis XIII
    Roi de France et
      Navarre 1610.
Union of the two Kingdoms,
 France and Navarre 1620.
]

[Illustration: _The Arms of Navarre_]

The arms of Navarre have ever been a mystery to antiquarians, but it
seems there is some semblance of Basque tradition and folk-lore in it
all, in that there is an old Basque game which is played upon a diagram,
or scale, traced upon the ground, and following the principal outlines
of the blazonings of the ancient kings of Navarre. Which came first, the
hen or the egg?

Authorities differ, and so it is with the Basque game of _laz Marellas_,
and the royal arms of the Navarres. Labastide says the game came down
from the time when the Basques of to-day were originally Phoenicians.
If this be so, the royal arms were but a copy of something that had gone
before. Certainly they form as curious and enigmatic an armorial device
as is found in heraldry.

The Royaume de Navarre has so completely disappeared and been so
absorbed by France that it takes a considerable knowledge of geography
and history to be able to place it precisely upon the map of modern
Europe, hidden away as it was in what are now the two arrondissements of
Bayonne and Saint-Palais.

They were a noble race, the men of Béarn and Navarre, the Basques
especially, and the questionable traits of the _cagots_ and gypsies have
left but little impress on the masses.

Henri IV, faithful in his sentiment for his first subjects, would have
shown them his predilection by allowing them to remain an independent
monarchy. He would not that the kingdom of his mother be mingled with
that of France, but intriguing counsel prevailed and the alliance was
made, though Navarre escaped conquest and was still ruled by the sceptre
of its legitimate sovereign.

How near France came to being ruled by Navarre instead of Navarre by
France is recalled by the following bit of recorded history. When
Philippe V (le Long) came to the throne of France (1316) his right was
contested by many princes. Among others the crown was claimed by Jeanne
de Navarre, but an assembly of bishops, seigneurs and bourgeois of Paris
declared for the Salic law--which proscribed the right to rule the
French to one of the female sex, and this against feudal rights as they
were known and protected in the satellite kingdoms surrounding the royal
domain. It was agreed later (by Philippe-le-Long) that if the widow of
Louis X should have another female child, the rights appertaining to
Navarre should belong to her and her stepsister Jeanne, making it an
independent monarchy again.

When Philippe-le-Bel came to the throne of France it was his wife Jeanne
who, by common consent, administered the affairs of Navarre. She chased
the Aragonians and Castilians from her fair province, and put her people
into a state of security hitherto unknown. "She held," said Mézeray the
historian, "every one enchanted by her eyes, her ears, and her heart,
and she was equally eloquent, generous and liberal." A veritable paragon
of a woman evidently.

Henri II, son of Catherine and Jean d'Albret II, succeeded to the throne
of French Navarre at the age of thirteen. He followed the French king,
François, to Italy, and was made prisoner at the unfortunate battle of
Pavia, finally escaping through a ruse.

François Premier, king of France, and Henri d'Albret, king of Navarre,
each nourished an equal aversion for the king of Spain, the prime cause
of that fateful day at Pavia. The first hated the Spanish monarch as a
rival; the second as the usurper of his lands. They united arms, but the
battle of Pavia, when "all was lost save honour," gave matters such a
setback that naught but time could overcome them.

It was Henri II's marriage with Marguerite of Valois, the Duchesse
d'Alençon, in 1526, by which he acquired the Armagnac succession as a
gift from his brother-in-law, François Premier, that brought to
Navarre's crown nearly all of Guyenne. In 1555 the young king died at
Pau, leaving a daughter, Jeanne d'Albret, who with her second husband,
Antoine de Bourbon, Duc de Vendome, succeeded to the throne.

The new rulers did not attempt or accomplish much, save to embrace
Calvinism with zeal. Suffice to recall the well-known facts that Antoine
died in 1562 from a wound received in the siege of Rouen, and that
Jeanne herself died from the poison of the wicked Catherine de Medici's
gloves at Paris.

Their son, Henri III of Navarre, was the Henri IV of France. Born at Pau
in 1553, he was first only the Comte de Viane. When he came to Paris he
would not have allied his Pyrenean possessions with those of France but
for the pressure brought to bear upon him. He declared that his
ancestral lands should remain entirely separate, but the procureur
general, La Guesle, forced his hand, and it was thus that the Royaume de
France became augmented by Basse-Navarre, the Comtés d'Armagnac, Foix,
d'Albret and Bigorre, the Duché de Vendome, the Comté de Périgord and
the Vicomté de Limoges.

The story of Béarn and Navarre, for most folk, begins with those kings
of Navarre who were also kings of France. The first of these was the
white-plumed knight Henri III, Prince of Béarn, who became Henri IV of
France. The France of the Valois, which strain died with Henri III,
murdered by the black monk Clement, was much more narrow in its confines
than now. In the northeast it lacked Lorraine, Franche Comté, Bresse,
Dombes and Bucey; in the south Roussillon, Béarn and Basse-Navarre, and
there was a sort of quasi-independence observed by the former great
states of Bretagne, Bourgogne and Dauphiné.

With the coming of the king of Navarre to the throne of France, the
three great movements which took place in the religious situation, the
manners and customs of the court and noblesse, and in the aspirations of
the people gave an aspect of unity and solidarity to France.

The religious question was already momentous when Henri IV was crowned,
and Protestantism and its followers were gaining ground everywhere,
though the real Français--the Guises and the Bourbons, the princes of
Lorraine and the "princes of the blood"--were on the side of
Catholicism, and had their swords ever unsheathed in its behalf.

The court, in the midst of this great religious quarrel, was also in a
state of transition. Catherine and her gay troupe of damsels had
passed, as also had Charles IX, who died shortly after the Huguenot
massacre of St. Bartholomew's night. His brother, and successor to the
throne, Henri III, Duc d'Anjou, was a weakling, and he too died
miserably at the point of the assassin's knife, and few seemed to regret
the passing of him who devoted himself more to monkeys, parrots and
little dogs than to statecraft. Henri of Béarn was the strong man in
public view, and of him great things were expected by all parties in
spite of his professed Calvinism of the time.

It was during the reign of the feeble-witted Henri III that Henri, king
of Navarre, became the titular head of the Huguenots; thus abjuring the
Catholic religion that he had previously embraced under pressure. The
Protestant League became a powerful institution, and the _gentilshommes_
of Béarn, Guienne, Poitou and Dauphiné became captains in the cause,
just as the _gentilshommes_ of Picardie and Artois became captains of
Catholicism. The whole scheme was working itself out on traditional
hereditary lines; it was the Protestantism of the mountains against the
Catholicism of the lowlands. As for the people, the masses, they simply
stood by and wondered, ready for any innovation which augured for the
better.

[Illustration: _Arms of Henri IV of France and Navarre_]

This was the state of France upon the coming of Henri IV to the throne,
and the joining of Basse-Navarre and Béarn to the royal domain.

Unquestionably it is a fact that the feudality in France ceased only
with the passing of Louis XI, and the change in the Pyrenean states was
contemporary. The Renaissance made great headway in France, after its
importation from Italy at the hands of Charles VIII and his followers.
Constantinople had been taken; art and letters were everywhere in the
ascendency; printing had been invented; and America was on the verge of
being discovered. The golden days of the new civilization were about
dawning.

The Renaissance here in Béarn and Navarre, under the shadow of the
Pyrenees, flowered as it did nowhere else out of Italy, so far as its
application to life and letters went. Many celebrated litterateurs and
poets had been persecuted and chased from France, and here they found a
welcome refuge. To remark only two, Desperriers and Marat, it is
interesting to note that the sympathetic Marguerite of Navarre took them
under her patronage, and even made them _valets de chambre_.

Marguerite's passions were, according to the historians, noble, but
according to the romancers they were worldly. Said Erasmus: "_Elle
était chaste et peu sujette aux passions_," and contemporary historians
agree with him; while Marat, the poet _valet de chambre_, wrote the
following:--

    "Que je suis serf d'un monstre fort étrange,
     Monstre je dis, car pour tout vrai, elle a
     Corps féminin, coeur d'homme et tête d'ange."

In 1574 Brantome, the chronicler, had finished his military career and
was retained by Henri III of France as a gentleman of the bed-chamber.
Here he passed through many affairs of intrigue and the heart. In 1581
he received a mission to go and interview the king of Navarre, for which
he received the sum of six hundred _écus soleil_. What the subject of
this mission was no one knows; there is no further mention of it either
in the works of Brantôme or the letters of the king of Navarre, but at
any rate he became enamoured of Marguerite, and his account of his first
meeting with her is one of the classic documents of French history. "I
dare to say," said he, "that she was _si belle et si admirable_ that all
the three hundred persons of the assembly were ravished and astounded."

It is on Marguerite of Navarre, no less than on the plumed Henry, that
the popular interest in Navarre and its history has been built.


_A Brief Chronology of French and Spanish Navarre_

Spanish Navarre came to be annexed to the Spanish crown in 1512 through
the efforts and energies of Ferdinand the Catholic king of Aragon.

French Navarre virtually came to France in 1328, but its independent
monarchs since that time have been:

  Jeanne II (et Philippe)                    1328
  Charles II (le Mauvais)                    1349
  Charles III                                1387
  Jean II (et Blanche)                       1425
  Eléonore                                   1479
  Phoebus de Foix                            1479
  Catherine (et Jean d'Albret II)            1484
  Henri II                                   1517
  Jeanne d'Albret (et Antoine de Bourbon)    1555
  Henri III                             1589-1610

It was Henri III of Navarre who became Henri IV of France and it was he
who first brought the little kingdom to the crown of France, the double
title being borne by his successors up to the abdication of Charles X in
1830.



CHAPTER XXV

THE BASQUES

[Illustration: _The Basque Country_]


Most people, or certainly most women, connect the name basque with a
certain article of ladies' wearing apparel. Just what its functions
were, when it was in favour a generation ago, a mere man may not be
supposed to know. Théophile Gautier has something to say on the
subject, so he doubtless knew; and Victor Hugo delivered himself of the
following couplet:--

    "C'était plaisir de voir danser la jeune fille;
     Sa basquine agitait ses pailettes d'azur."

The French Basques are divided into three families, the Souletins, the
Bas-Navarrais and the Labourdins. They possess, however, the same
language and other proofs of an identical origin in the simplicity and
quaintness of their dress and customs.

The Labourdin Basques inhabit the plains and valleys running down to the
sea at the western termination of the Pyrenees, and live a more
luxurious life than the Navarrais, even emigrating largely, and entering
the service of the merchant and naval marine; whereas the Navarrais
occupy themselves mostly with agriculture (and incidentally are the
largest meat eaters in France) and contribute their services only to the
army. The contrast between the sailor and fisher folk of the coast, and
the soldiers and farmers of the high valleys is remarkable, as to face
and figure, if not readily distinguishable with respect to other
details.

The Labourdin Basques have a traditional history which is one of the
most interesting and varied records of the races of western Europe. In
olden times the Golfe de Gascogne was frequented by great shoals of
whales, and the Basques, harpooning them and killing them in the waters
of their harbours, came to control the traffic.

When the whale industry fell off, and the whales themselves receded to
the south seas, the Basques went after them, and for long they held the
supremacy as before, finally chasing them again to the Newfoundland
Banks, which indeed it is claimed the Basques discovered. At any rate
the whaling industry proved a successful and profitable commerce for the
Basques, and perhaps led the way for their migration in large numbers to
South America and other parts of the New World.

Among the Basques themselves, and perhaps among others who have given
study to the subject, the claim is made that they were the real
discoverers of the New World, long before Columbus sighted the western
isles. Thus is the Columbus legend, and that of Leif, son of Eric,
shattered by the traditions of a people whom most European travellers
from overseas hardly know of as existing. It seems that a Spanish
Basque, when on a voyage from Bayonne to Madeira, was thrown out of his
course and at the mercy of the winds and waves, and finally, after many
weeks, landed on the coast of Hayti. Columbus is thus proved a
plagiarist.

The Basques as a race, both in France and in Spain, are a proud, jovial
people, not in the least sullen, but as exclusive as turtle-doves.
Unlike most of the peasants of Europe, whether at work or play, they
march with head high, and beyond a grave little bow, scarcely, if ever,
accost the stranger with that graciousness of manner which is usually
customary with the farmer folk of even the most remote regions in
France, those of the Cevennes or the upper valleys of Dauphiné or
Savoie.

Upon acquaintance and recognition of equality, the Basques become
effusive and are undoubtedly sincere. They don't adopt the mood for
business purposes as does the Norman or the Niçois.

The traditions of the Basques concerning their ancestors comport exactly
with their regard for themselves, and their pride of place is noticeable
to every stranger who goes among them. They believe that they were
always an independent people among surrounding nations of slaves, and,
since it is doubtful if the Romans ever conquered them as they did the
other races of Gaul, this may be so. The very suggestion of this
superior ancestry accounts for many of their manners and customs. Full
to overflowing with the realization of their "_noblesse collective_,"
they have an utter contempt for an individual nobility that borders
close upon radicalism and republicanism. The greatest peer among them is
the oldest of the house (_eteheco-sémia_) and he, or she, is the only
individual to whom is paid a voluntary homage.

Like the children of Abraham, the Basques are, away from the seacoast,
for the most part tenders of flocks and herds, and never does one meet a
Basque in the mountains or on the highroads but what he finds him
carrying a _baton_ or a goad-stick, as if he were a Maréchal de France
in embryo. It is their "_compagnon de voyage et de fête_," and can on
occasion, when wielded with a sort of Jiu-Jitsu proficiency, be a
terrible weapon. As many heads must have been cracked by the _baton_ of
the Basque, as by the shillelagh of the Irishman, always making
allowance for the fact that the Basque is less quarrelsome and peppery
than Pat.

There is absolutely no question but that the Basques are hospitable when
occasion arises, and this in spite of their aloofness. In this respect
they are like the Arabs of the desert. And also like the Hebrews, the
Basques are very jealous of their nationality, and have a strong
repugnance against alliances and marriages with strangers.

The activity and the agility of the Basques is proverbial, in fact a
proverb has grown out of it. "_Leger comme un Basque_," is a saying
known all over France. The Basque loves games and dances of all sorts,
and he "makes the fête" with an agility and a passion not known of any
other people to a more noticeable extent. A fête to the Basque, be it
local or national, is not a thing to be lightly put aside. He makes a
business of it, and expects every one else to do the same. There is no
room for onlookers, and if a tourney at _pelota_--now become the new
sport of Paris--is on, it is not the real thing at all unless all have a
hand in it in turn. There are other _pelota_ tourneys got up at
Biarritz, Bayonne and Feuntarrabia for strangers, but the mountain
Basque has contempt for both the players and the audience. What he would
think of a sixty or eighty thousand crowd at a football or a cricket
game is too horrible for words.

_Pelota Basque_ has its home in the Basque country, both in the French
and Spanish provinces, and the finest players of _pelota_ come from
here. _Pelota Basque_ is played in various parts of Spain, as well as
_pelota_ which is played with the three walls and the open hand, and
thus the two games are found in the same country at the same time,
though differing to no small extent.

It is to be regretted that there is not more literature connected with
the game. The history of ball games is always interesting, and _pelota_
is without doubt worthy of almost as much research as has been expended
on the history of tennis.

In Spain _pelota_ is largely played at San Sebastian, Bilbao, Madrid,
Barcelona. There are three walls, and the game is played by four
players, two on each side. Before the three-wall game was ever thought
of, _Pelota Basque_ was played in the principal cities of the Basque
country, and it is still played on one wall in such cities as St.
Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz, Cambo, Dax, Mauléon, Bordeaux, and even at Paris,
and is recognized as the superior variety.

This was explained over the signatures of a group of professional
players who introduced the game to Paris as follows:--

[Illustration: _The Game of Pelota_]

     "We, the _pelotarie_ playing here, can play either on _frontones_
     of the Spanish or Basque form; but there is no doubt that the
     latter is the better game, and we feel we must state that the
     measures of the court, and the wall, and its top curves are the
     same in the Paris _fronton_ as at St. Jean-de-Luz, which is
     considered by all authorities an ideal court. Here we play three
     against three, and all the '_aficionados_' who have witnessed a
     game of Basque _pelota_ are unanimous in saying it is a sport of a
     high grade, although different from the three-wall game.

     "We, the undersigned, are the recognized champions of _pelota
     Basque_.

     ELOY, _of the Barcelona's Fronton_.

     MELCHIOR, _of San Sebastian's Fronton_.

     VELASCO, _of Biarritz and Bilbao's Fronton_.

     LEON DIHARCE, _of Paris and Buenos Ayres Fronton_."

It is by the word _euskualdunac_ that the Basques are known among
themselves. Their speech has an extraordinary sound, the vowels jumping
out from between the consonants as a nut shell crushes in a
_casse-noisette_. No tongue of Europe sounds more strange to foreign
ears, not even Hungarian. On the other hand a Basque will speak French
perfectly, without the slightest accent, when he feels like it, but his
Béarnais neighbour makes a horrible mess of it, mixing Parisian French
with his chattering _patois_. What a language and what a people the
Basques are, to be sure! Some day some one will study them profoundly
and tell us much about them that at present we only suspect. This much
we know, they are allied to no other race in Europe.

Perhaps the Basques _were_ originally Arabs. Who knows? A young Basque
woman who carries a water-jug on her head, and marches along with a
subtle undulation of the hips that one usually sees only in a desert
Arab or a Corsican girl, certainly is the peer of any of the northern
Europeans when it comes to a ravishing grace and carriage.

It is the Pays Basque which is the real frontier of France and Spain,
and yet it resembles neither the country to the north nor south, but
stands apart, an exotic thing quite impossible to place in comparison
with anything else; and this is equally true of the men and women and
their manners and customs; the country, even, is wild and savage, but
gay and lively withal.

One may not speak of two peoples here. It is an error, a heresy. On one
side, as on the other, it is the same race, the same tongue, the same
peoples--in the Basses-Pyrenees of modern France as in the Provinces of
Guipuzcoa, Navarre and Biscaye of modern Spain. The only difference is
that in France the peasant's _béret_ is blue, while in Spain it is red.

The antiquity of _la langue escuara_ or _eskual-dunac_ is beyond
question, but it is doubtful if it was the speech of Adam and Eve in
their terrestrial paradise, as all genuine and patriotic Basques have no
hesitancy in claiming.

At a Geographical Congress held in London in 1895 a M. L. d'Abartiague
claimed relationship between the Basques of antiquity and the aborigines
of the North American continent. This may be far-fetched or not, but at
any rate it's not so far-flung as the line of reasoning which makes out
Adam and Eve as being the exclusive ancestors of the Basques, and the
rest of us all descended from them.

Curiously enough the Spanish Basques change their mother-tongue in
favour of Castilian more readily than those on the other side of the
Bidassoa do for French. The Spanish Basques to-day number perhaps three
hundred and fifty thousand, though included in fiscal returns as
Castilians, while in France the Basques number not more than one hundred
and twenty thousand. There are two hundred thousand Basques in Central
and South America, mostly emigrants from France.

The Basque language is reckoned among the tongues apportioned to Gaul by
the geographer Balbi; the Greco-Latine, the Germanic, the Celtic, the
Semitic, and the Basque; thus beyond question the Basque tongue is a
thing apart from any other of the tongues of Europe, as indeed are the
people. The speech of the Basque country is first of all a _langue_, not
a corrupted, mixed-up _patois_. Authorities have ascribed it as coming
from the Phoenician, which, since it was the speech of Cadmus, the
inventor of the alphabet, was doubtless the parent of many tongues. The
educated Basques consider their "tongue" as one much advanced, that is,
a veritable tongue, having nothing in common with the other tongues of
Europe, ancient or modern, and accordingly to be regarded as one of the
mother-tongues from which others have descended.

It bears a curious resemblance to Hebrew, in that nearly all
appellatives express the qualities and properties of those things to
which they are applied. From the point of grammatical construction,
there is but one declension and conjugation, and an abundance of
prepositions which makes the spoken speech concise and rapid. Basque
verbs, moreover, possess a "familiar" singular and a "respectful"
singular--if one may so mark the distinction, and they furthermore have
a slight variation according to the age and sex of the person who speaks
as well as with regard to the one spoken to.

Really, it beats Esperanto for simplicity, and the Basque tongue allows
one to make words of indeterminate length, as does the German. It is all
things to all men apparently. _Ardanzesaroyareniturricoborua_, one
single word, means simply: "the source of the fountain on the
vineyard-covered mountain." Its simplicity may be readily understood
from the following application. The Basque "of Bayonne" is _Bayona_;
"from Bayonne," _Bayonaco_; "that of Bayonne," _Bayonacoa_.

The ancient and prolific Basque tongue possesses a literature, but for
all that, there has never yet been discovered one sole public contract,
charter or law written in the language. It was never the official speech
of any portion of the country, nor of the palace, nor was it employed in
the courts. The laws or _fueros_ were written arbitrarily in Latin,
Spanish, French and Béarnais, but never in Basque.

The costume of the Basque peasant is more coquettish and more elegant
than that of any other of the races of the Midi, and in some respects is
almost as theatrical as that of the Breton. All over Europe the
characteristic costumes are changing, and where they are kept very much
to the fore, as in Switzerland, Tyrol and in parts of Brittany, it is
often for business purposes, just as the yodlers of the Alps mostly
yodel for business purposes.

The Basque sticks to his costume, a blending of Spanish and something
unknown. He, or she, in the Basque provinces knows or cares little as to
what may be the latest style at Paris, and bowler hats and _jupes
tailleurs_ have not yet arrived in the Basque countryside. One has to go
into Biarritz or Pau and look for them on strangers.

For the Basque a _béret bleu_ (or red), a short red jacket, white vest,
and white or black velvet corduroy breeches are _en régle_, besides
which there are usually white stockings, held at the knees by a more or
less fanciful garter. On his feet are a rough hob-nailed shoe, or the
very reverse, a sort of a moccasin made of corded flax. A silk
handkerchief encircles the neck, as with most southern races, and hangs
down over the shoulders in what the wearer thinks is an engaging manner.
On the days of the great fêtes there is something more gorgeous still,
a sort of a draped cloak, often parti-coloured, primarily the possession
of married men, but affected by the young when they try to be "sporty."

The _tambour de Basque_, or drum, is a poor one-sided affair, all top
and no bottom; virtually it is a tambourine, and not a drum at all. One
sees it all over the Basque country, and it is as often played on with
the closed fists as with a drumstick.

Like most of the old provincials of France, the Basques have numerous
folk-songs and legends in verse. Most frequently they are in praise of
women, and the Basque women deserve the best that can be said of them.
The following as a sample, done into French, and no one can say the
sentiment is not a good deal more healthy than that of Isaac Watts's
"hymns."

    "Peu de femmes bonnes sont bonnes danseuses,
        Bonne danseuse, mauvaise fileuse;
     Mauvaise fileuse, bonne buveuse,
        Des femmes semblables
     Sont bonnes à traiter à coups de baton."

In the Basque country, as in Brittany, the clergy have a great influence
over the daily life of the people. The Basques are not as fanatically
devout as the Bretons, but nevertheless they look to the _curé_ to
explain away many things that they do not understand themselves; and let
it be said the Basque _curé_ does his duty as a leader of opinion for
the good of one and all, much better than does the country squire in
England who occupies a somewhat analogous position.

It is through the church that the Euskarian population of the
Basses-Pyrenees have one of their strongest ties with traditional
antiquity. The _curés_ and the communicants of his parish are usually of
one race. There is a real community of ideas.

As for the education of the new generation of Basques, it is keeping
pace with that of the other inhabitants of France, though in times past
even rudimentary education was far behind, and from the peasant class of
only a generation or so ago, out of four thousand drawn for service in
the army, nearly three hundred were destitute of the knowledge of how to
read and write. In ten years, however, this percentage has been reduced
one half.

The emigration of the Basques has ever been a serious thing for the
prosperity of the region. Thirteen hundred emigrated from the "Basque
Française" (for South and Central America) and fifteen hundred from the
"Basque Espagnole." In figures this emigration has been considerably
reduced of late, but the average per year for the last fifty years has
been (from the Basse-Pyrenees Département alone) something like
seventeen hundred.

The real, simon-pure Basque is seen at his best at Saint
Jean-Pied-de-Port, the ancient capital of French Navarre. "_Urtun hiriti
urrumoffagariti_," say the inhabitants: "Far from the city, far from
health." This isn't according to the doctors, but let that pass.

To know the best and most typical parts of the Basque country, one
should make the journey from Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port to Mauléon and
Tardets. Here things are as little changed from mediævalism as one will
find in modern France. One passes from the valley of the Nive into the
valley of the Bidouze. There are no railways and one must go by road.
The road is excellent moreover, though the distance is not great. Here
is where the automobilist scores, but if one wants to take a still
further step back into the past he may make the forty kilomètres by
diligence. This is a real treat too, not at all to be despised as a
means of travel, but one must hurry up or the three franc diligence
will be supplanted by a "light railway," and then where will mediævalism
come in. All the same, if you've got a feverish automobile panting
outside St. Jean's city gate, jump in.

There are numerous little villages en route which will not detain one
except for their quaintness. One passes innumerable oxen, all swathed in
swaddling clothes to keep off the flies and plodding slowly but surely
along over their work. A train of Spanish mules or smaller donkeys
pulling a long wagon of wood or wool is another common sight; or a man
or a woman, or both, on the back of a little donkey will be no novelty
either. This travel off the beaten track, if there is not much of note
to stop one, is delightful, and here one gets it at its best.

Stop anywhere along the road at some inn of little pretence and you will
fare well for your _déjeuner_. It will be very homely, this little
Basque inn, but strangers will do very well for their simple wants. All
one does is to ask "Avez-vous des oeufs? Avez-vous du jambon? Du vin,
je vous prie!" and the smiling rosy-cheeked _patronne_, whose name is
Jeanne, Jeannette, Jeanneton, Jeannot or Margot--one or the other it's
bound to be--does the rest with a cackling "Ha! he! Eh ben! eh ben!"
And you will think you never ate such excellent ham and eggs in your
life as this Bayonne ham and the eggs from Basque chickens--and the wine
and the home-made bread. It's all very simple, but an Escoffier could
not do it better.

The peasant's work in the fields in the Basque country may not be on the
most approved lines, and you can't grow every sort of a crop here in
this rusty red soil, but there is a vast activity and an abundance of
return for the hard workers, and all the Basques are that. The plough is
as primitive as that with which the Egyptian fellah turns up the
alluvial soil of the Nile, but the Basque makes good headway
nevertheless, and can turn as straight a furrow, up the side of a hill
or down, as most of his brothers can on the level.

In the church at Bunus is a special door reserved in times past for the
descendants of the Arabs who had adopted Christianity.

Here in the Basque country you may see the peasants on a fête day dance
the fandango with all the ardour and the fervour of the Andalusians
themselves. Besides the fandango, there is the "_saute basque_," a sort
of a hop-skip-and-a-jump which they think is dancing, but which isn't
the thing at all, unless a grasshopper can be said to dance.

"Le Chevalet" is another Basque dance whose very name explains itself;
and then there is the "Tcherero," a minuet-sort of a dance, wholly by
men, and very graceful and picturesque it is, not at all boisterous.

The peasants play the _pastoral_ here as they do in Languedoc and
Provence, with good geniuses and evil geniuses, and all the machinery
that Isaac Watts put into his hymns for little children. Here the grown
men and women take them quite as seriously as did the children of our
nursery days.

[Illustration: "_Le Chevalet_"]

In the Basses-Pyrénées, besides the Basques, is distinguishable another
race of dark-skinned, under-sized little men, almost of the Japanese
type, except that their features are more regular and delicate. They are
descendants of the Saracen hordes which overran most of southern Gaul,
and here and there found a foothold and left a race of descendants to
tell the story. The Saracens of the Basque country were not warlike
invaders, but peaceful ones who here took root, and to-day are known as
Agotacs-Cascarotacs. It is not difficult to distinguish traces of
African blood among them, just the least suspicion, and they have
certain religious rites and customs--seemingly pagan--which have
nothing in common with either the Basques or the French. They are
commonly considered as pariahs by other dwellers roundabout, but they
have a certain individuality which would seem to preclude this. They are
more like the "holy men" of India, than they are like mere alms beggars,
and they have been known to occupy themselves more or less rudely with
rough labour and agricultural pursuits. They have their own places in
the churches, those who have not actually died off, for their numbers
are growing less from day to day. It can be said, however, that--save
the _cagots_ and _cretins_--they are the least desirable and most
unlikable people to be found in France to-day. They are not loathsome,
like lepers or _cretins_ or _goitreux_, but they are shunned by all
mankind, and for the most part remain well hidden in obscure corners and
culs-de-sac of the valleys away from the highroads.

The Spanish gypsies are numerous here in the Basque country, as might be
expected. They do not differ greatly from the accepted gypsy type, but
their marriage customs are curious. As a local authority on gypsy lore
has put it: "an old pot serves as a _curé_ and notary--_u bieilh toupi
qu'ous sert de curé de nontari_." The marriageable couple, their
parents and their friends, assemble in a wood, without priest or lawyer,
or any ceremony which resembles an official or religious act. An
earthenware pot is thrown in the air and the broken pieces, as it
tumbles to the ground, are counted. The number of pieces indicate the
duration of the partnership in years, each fragment counting for a year.
Simple, isn't it!



CHAPTER XXVI

SAINT-JEAN-PIED-DE-PORT AND THE COL DE RONÇEVAUX


Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the ancient capital of Basse-Navarre, is the
gateway to one of the seven passes of the Pyrenees. To-day it is as
quaint and unworldly as it was when capital of the province. Its aspect
is truly venerable, and this in spite of the fact that it is the chief
town of a canton, and transacts all the small business of the small
officialdom of many square leagues of country within its walls.

There is no apparent approach to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, as one comes
up the lower valley of the Nive; it all opens out as suddenly as if a
curtain were withdrawn; everything enlarges and takes on colouring and
animation.

The walled and bastioned little capital of other days was one of the
_clés_ of France in feudal times, and it lives well up to its
traditions. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a little town, red and rosy, as a
Frenchman--certainly a poet, or an artist--described it. There is no
doubt but that it is a wonder of picturesqueness, and its old walls and
its great arched gateway tell a story of mediævalism which one does not
have to go to a picture fairy book to have explained. All is rosy, the
complexions of the young Basque girls, their costumes, the brick and
stone houses and gates, and the old bridge across the Nive; all is the
colour of polished copper, some things paler and some deeper in tone,
but all rosy red. There's no doubt about that!

Along the river bank the houses plunge directly into the water without
so much as a skirt of shore-line. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, its ancient
ramparts and its river, is a combination of Bruges and Venice. Its
_citadelle coiffe_ tells of things that are militant, and its
fifteenth-century church of those that are spiritual. Between the two
comes much history of the days when the little bourg was the weight in
the balance between French and Spanish Navarre.

[Illustration: _The Quaint Streets of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port_]

The streets are calm, but brilliant with all the rare colourings of the
artist's palette, not the least of these notes of colour being the milk
jugs one sees everywhere hung out, strongly banded with great circles of
burnished copper, and ornamented with a device of the royal crown,
the fleur-de-lis, the initial =H= and the following inscription: "_à le
grand homme des pays béarnais et basques_." No one seems to know the
exact significance of this milk jug symbolism, but the jugs themselves
would make good souvenirs to carry away. All around is a wonderful
wooded growth, fig-trees, laurels and all the semi-tropical flora
usually associated with the Mediterranean countries, including the
_châtaigniers_, whose product, the chestnut, is becoming more and more
appreciated as an article of food.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port was, and is, the guardian of one of the most
facile means of communication between France and Spain, the Route de
Pamplona via Ronçevaux; facile because it has recently been rendered
suitable for carriage traffic, whereas, save the coast routes on the
east and west, no other is practicable.

In 1523 the great tower and fortifications of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
were razed by order of the king of Navarre. The decree, dated and signed
from "_notre château de Pau_," read in part thus:--

"_Know you that the demolition of the walls of the city of
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is not made for any case of crime or felony or
suspicion against the inhabitants ... and that we consider said
inhabitants still as good, faithful vassals and loyal subjects._"

The existing monuments of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port are many, though no
royal residences are left to remind one of the days when kings and
queens tarried within its walls. Instead one must be content with the
knowledge that the city grew up from a Roman bourg which in the ninth
century was replaced with the predecessor of the later capital. Its
name, even in this early day, was Saint-Jean-le-Vieux, and it was not
until the eleventh or twelfth centuries that the present city took form,
founded doubtless by the Garcias, who were then kings of all Navarre.
Saint-Jean belonged to Spain, as did all the province on the northern
slope of the Pyrenees, until the treaty of 1659, and the capital of the
kingdom was Pamplona.

Under the three reigns preceding the French Revolution the city was the
capital of French Navarre, but the French kings, some time before, as we
have seen, deserted it for more sumptuous and roomy quarters at Pau,
which became the capital of Béarn and Navarre.

The chief architectural characteristics, an entrancing mélange of French
and Spanish, are the remaining ramparts and their ogive-arched gates,
the Vieux Pont and its fortified gateway, and the fifteenth and
sixteenth century church. The local fête (August fifteenth-eighteenth)
is typical of the life of the Basques of the region, and reminiscent, in
its "charades," "bals champêtres," "parties de pelote," "mascarades,"
and "danses allegoriques" of the traditions of the past.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port lies in the valley of the Nive, and St.
Étienne-de-Baigorry, just over the crest of the mountains, fifteen
kilometres away, in the Val de Baigorry, is the chief town of a commune
more largely peopled than that presided over by Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
Really the town is but a succession of hamlets or quarters, but it is
interesting because of its church, with its great nave reserved
exclusively for women, even to-day--as was the ancient Basque
custom--and the Château d'Echaux sitting above the town.

The château was the property of the ancient Vicomtes of Baigorry, and is
a genuine mediæval structure, with massive flanking towers and a
surrounding park.

One of the Vicomtes de Baigorry, Bertrand d'Echaux, was also bishop of
Bayonne, and afterwards almoner to Louis XIII. That monarch proposed to
Pope Urban VIII to make his almoner a cardinal, but death overtook him
first.

The nephew of this Bertrand d'Echaux, Jean d'Olce, was also a bishop of
Bayonne, and it was to him, in the church of St. Jean de Luz, fell the
honour of giving the nuptial benediction to Louis XIV and the Infanta
Marie-Thérèse upon their marriage.

The Château de Baigorry of the Echaux belonged later to the Comte
Harispe, one of the architects of the military glory of France. He first
engaged in warfare as a simple volunteer, but died _senateur_, _comte_,
and _maréchal_ of France.

There is a first class legend connected with the daughter of the
chatelain of D'Echaux. A certain warrior, baron of the neighbouring
château of Lasse, became enamoured of the daughter of the Seigneur
d'Echaux, Vicomte de Baigorry, and in spite of the reputation of the
suitor of being cruel and ungallant the vicomte would not willingly
refuse the hand of his daughter to so valiant a warrior, so the young
girl--though it was against her own wish--became la Baronne de Lasse.

The marriage bell echoed true for a comparatively long period; it was
said that the soft character of the lady had tempered the despotism of
her husband. One day a young follower of Thibaut, Comte de Champagne,
returning from Pamplona in Spain, knocked at the door of the Château de
Lasse and demanded hospitality, as was his chevalier's right. The young
knight and Madame la Baronne fell in love at first sight, but not
without exciting the suspicions of the baron, who, by a subterfuge,
caught the loving pair in their guilt. He threw himself upon the young
gallant, pierced his heart with a dagger-thrust, cut him into pieces,
and threw them into the moat outside the castle walls.

An improvised court of justice was held in the great hall of the castle,
and the vassals, fearing the wrath of their overlord, condemned the
unhappy woman to death, by being interred in a dungeon cave and allowed
to starve.

When the Vicomte de Baigorry heard of this, he marched forthwith against
his hard-hearted son-in-law, and after a long siege took the château.
Just previously the baron committed suicide, anticipating the death that
would have awaited him. This is tragedy as played in mediæval times.

Between Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Saint-Etienne-de-Baigorry, just by
the side of the road, is the ruined château of Farges, a famous
establishment in the days of the first Napoleon's empire, though a
hot-bed of political intrigue. Its architectural charms are not many or
great, the garden is neglected, and the gates are off their hinges. The
whole resembles those Scotch manors now crumbling into ruin, of which
Sir Walter has given so many descriptions. At Ascarat, too, is a house
bearing a sculpture of a cross, a mitre, and two mallets interlaced on
its façade, with the date 1292. It is locally called "La Maison
Ancienne," but the present occupant has given it frequent coats of
whitewash and repaired things here and there until it looks like quite a
modern structure.

Above Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, on the road to Arnéguy, is the little
hamlet of Lasse, with a church edifice of no account, but with a ruined
château donjon that possesses a historic, legendary past. It recalls the
name of the baron who had that little affair with the daughter of the
Vicomte de Baigorry.

In the heart of the Pyrenees, twenty kilometres above
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, is Val Carlos and the Col de Ronçevaux, where
fell Roland and Archbishop Turpin in that bloody rout of Charlemagne.
Blood flowed in rivers. Literature more than history, though the event
was epoch-making in the latter sense, has made the story famous. The
French call it a _drame militaire_, and this, as well as anything, gives
a suggestion of its spectacular features all so fully set forth in a
cycle of chivalrous legends in the famous Song of Roland.

The Alps divide their warlike glories with Napoleon and Hannibal, but
the Pyrenees will ever have Charlemagne for their deity, because of this
affair at Ronçevaux. Charlemagne dominated everything with his "host of
Christendom," and the people on the Pyrenees say to-day: "There are
three great noises--that of the torrent, that of the wind in the pines,
and that of the army of Charlemagne." He did what all wise commanders
should do; he held both sides of his defensive frontier.

    "When Charlemagne had given his anger room,
     And broken Saragossa beneath his doom,
     And bound the valley of Ebro under a bond,
     And into Christendom christened Bramimond."

All who recall the celebrated retreat of Charlemagne and the shattering
of his army, and the Paladin Roland, by the rocks rolled down upon them
by the Basques will have vivid emotions as they stand here above the
magnificent gorge of Val Carlos and contemplate one of the celebrated
battle-fields of history.

The abbey of Ronçevaux, a celebrated and monumental convent, has been
famous long years in history. The _royale et insigne collegiale_, as it
was known, was one of the most celebrated sanctuaries in Christendom,
and takes its place immediately after the shrines of Jerusalem, Rome,
and St. Jacques de Compostelle, under the immediate protection of the
Holy See, and under the direct patronage of the king of Spain, who
nominates the prior. This dignitary and six canons are all that exist
to-day of the ancient military order of Ronçevaux, called by the Spanish
Ronçevalles, and by the Basques Orhia.

There's not much else at Ronçevaux save the monastery and its classic
Gothic architectural splendours, a few squalid houses, and an inn where
one may see as typical a Spanish kitchen as can be found in the depths
of the Iberian peninsula. Here are all the picturesque Spanish
accessories that one reads of in books and sees in pictures, soldiers
playing guitars, and muleteers dancing the fandango, with, perhaps, a
Carmencita or a Mercédès looking on or even dancing herself.

Pamplona in Spain, the old kingly capital of Navarre, is eighty
kilometres distant. One leaves Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port by diligence at
eleven in the morning, takes _déjeuner_ at Val Carlos, and at two in the
afternoon takes the Spanish diligence and sleeps at Burgette, leaving
again at four in the morning and arriving at Pamplona at eight.

This is a classic excursion and ought to be made by all who visit the
Pyrenees. Val Carlos is the Spanish customs station, and soon after one
passes through the magnificent rocky Défile de Val Carlos and finally
over the crest of the Pyrenees by either the Port d'Ibañeta or the Col
de Ronçevaux, at a height of one thousand and fifty-seven metres.

The route from Ronçevaux to Pamplona is equally as good on Spanish soil
as it was on French--an agreeable surprise to those who have thought the
good roads' movement had not "arrived" in Spain.

The diligence may not be an ideally comfortable means of travel, but at
least it's a romantic one, and has some advantages over driving from
Saint Jean in your own, or a hired, conveyance, as an expostulating
Frenchman we met had done. He freed the frontier all right enough, but
within a few kilometres was arrested by a roving Spanish officer who
turned him back to the official-looking building--which he had no right
to pass without stopping anyway--labelled "Aduana Nacional" in staring
letters, that any passer-by might read without straining his eyes.

"Surely he would never have driven by in this manner," said the dutiful
functionary, "unless he was intending to sell the horse and carriage and
all that therein was, without acquitting the lawful rights which would
enable a royal government to present a decent fiscal balance sheet."

Pamplona is the end of our itinerary, and was the capital of Spanish
Navarre. It's not at all a bad sort of a place, and while it doesn't
look French in the least, it is no more primitive than many a French
city or town of its pretentions. It has a population of thirty thousand,
is the seat of a bishop, has a fine old cathedral, a bull ring--which is
a sight to see on the fête day of San Sebastian (January twentieth)--and
a hotel called _La Perla_ which by its very name is a thing of quality.



CHAPTER XXVII

THE VALLEY OF THE NIVE


There is no more gracious little river valley in all France than that of
the Nive, as it flows from fabled Ronçevaux by Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port,
Bidarray and Cambo, to the Gulf of Gascony, down through the fertile
Pyrenean slopes. Ronsard sang of the Loir at Vendome and his rhymes have
become classic; but much of the phrasing might apply here. All about is
a profound verdure, a majesty, and a magnificence of colour which will
ravish the heart of an artist, be he realist or impressionist. From the
very first, the Nive flows between banks wide and sinuous, and in its
lower reaches, between Cambo and the sea, takes on an amplitude that
many longer and more pretentious streams lack utterly. By a rock-cut
way, the Nive passes from French Navarre into the Pays de Labourd, an
ancient fief of feudal times, between Cambo and the Pas de Roland.

The legend which has perpetuated the death of Roland and so many of the
rear-guard of Charlemagne's army gives an extraordinary interest to this
otherwise striking region. Here the Nive narrows its banks and tumbles
itself about in a veritable fury of foam, and whether the sword stroke
of the Paladin Roland made the passage possible, as it did in the famous
"Brèche," or not has little to do with one of the strikingly sentimental
episodes of legendary history. If it took place anywhere likely enough
it happened here also.

Between the Pas de Roland and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port one passes
Bidarray and a curious donkey-back bridge, and the famous Bassin de
Bidarray, famous only because it is a cavern underground, for it does
not differ greatly in appearance from others of its family. Above
Bidarray is the superb cone of Mondarrain, crowned with the ruins of a
feudal castle.

The following legend of a dragon who once lived in a cavern on the banks
of the Nive is worthy of preserving in print; at any rate it sounds
plausible, as told the writer by an old dealer in _bérets_ and _sabots_.
He had an eye for the picturesque, though, and if his facts are correct
he would make a very good historian.

A young Bayonnais went out one day to attack this fabled monster whom no
one yet had been able to kill. By name he was Gaston Armaud de Belzunc,
and his father was governor of Bayonne in 1372.

After a day and a half of journeying, the young Tartarin of other days
came upon his quarry. The beast, furious, jumped upon the cavalier and
threw him to the ground, but his lance pierced the scaly neck and so
weakened the monster that man and beast grappled together. The two died,
and Gaston's companions, who had ungallantly fled precipitately at the
first encounter, found them later laced in each other's embrace.

To perpetuate the memory of this act of bravery, the king of Navarre
granted the family De Belzunc the privilege of adding a dragon to its
arms. Up to the Revolution there existed a fund in behalf of the clergy
of a Bayonne church to pray for the repose of the soul of this gallant
young knight of the Middle Ages.

High above the banks of the upper reaches of the Nive are the grim ruins
of the Château de Laustan. Practically it was, in its palmy days, a
fortress-château. It was built by the Seigneur de Laustan, who possessed
great privileges in the neighbourhood, to turn the tide of aggression of
his jealous neighbours, and of the Spaniards. It was constructed of a
sort of red sandstone, with walls of great thickness, as evidences show
to-day, and must have been a very successful feudal habitation of its
class. The family De Laustan was one of the most celebrated in
Basse-Navarre. It gave three archbishops to Spain, and its archives are
now kept in the royal library at Madrid.

Cambo, in the mid-valley of the Nive, is as delightful a spot of its
class as is marked on any map, far more so than many pretentious resorts
where bridge, baccarat and the bumptious pretence of its habitués are
the chief characteristics.

Cambo is simple, but pleasant, and besides its quiet, peaceful delights
it has two historical institutions which are as un-French as they are
really and truly Basque. First: its remarkable church, with its golden
_rétable_ and its galleries surrounding the nave, is something
distinctively local, as is also its churchyard. The other feature is the
court or _fronton_ where is played the _jeu de paume_, or, to give it
its Basque nomenclature, _pelota_. Here meet from time to time, all
through the year, the most famous players of the French Basque country
and of Guipuzcoa, the chief Spanish centre, across the border.

This game of _pelota_ is the passion of the Basques, but as the habitant
says, "the game plays out the player, and in four or five years his
suppleness disappears, his muscles become hardened, and he is
superannuated."

Still one cannot get away from the fact that Cambo's present-day vogue
is wholly due to the coming of Edmond Rostand. It was famous before,
among a select few, but the craze is on, and the land-boomer and the
resort-exploiter have already marked its acres for their own.

Rostand's country home "Arnaga" is something like a palace of an Arabian
Nights tale. The walls of the apartments, whose windows look out over
the crests of the Pyrenees, are covered with paintings by some of the
most celebrated French artists. One room has a decorated frieze taken
from the ever-delightful tales immortalized by Andersen and the Grimm
brothers, and the gem of this poet's dwelling is Madame Rostand's
boudoir. Familiar stories of "Cinderella" and the "Beauty and the Beast"
are told again, with a wealth of colour and fantasy, by that whimsical
artist Jean Weber.

This artistic retreat is a happy combination of Byzantine palace and
Basque chalet. Here Rostand lives part of the year, with his wife and
son, in a retirement only broken to receive a friend, who is supposed
never to speak of the strenuous life. To escape from the continual
excitement of city life and the feverish fashionable resorts, and also
to be able to devote himself entirely to work, the creator of "Cyrano"
fled to this spot eight years ago. Arnaga is not constructed along the
conventional lines of the French château, but looks rather like a
Moorish palace as it stands on a high hill, surrounded by parks and
terraces, and the wonderful Basque landscape. On one side the castle or
palace, or château, or whatever you choose to call it, overlooks a
verdant plain sprinkled with semi-tropical blossoms and watered by the
winding stream of the Nive. On the other rise the majestic Pyrenees,
which, in the glory of the southern sunset, flush to a deep crimson and
then pale to a sombre purple.

Surely it is an ideal spot and will be till the madding crowd comes and
sets this ideal litterateurs' and artists' retreat in an uproar, as it
did Étretat and St. Raphael in the days of Alphonse Karr.

Rostand's earnings as a dramatist might not suffice to keep up such a
pretentious establishment, but since he is married to the daughter of a
Paris banker the thing seems simpler.

"The fame of Cambo is only just coming to be widespread. This is due to
the fact that the great poet and playwright whose fame rests upon
having invented a _papier-maché_ nose for his chief creation has made it
so." This was the rather unkindly criticism of a brother professional (a
French playwright) jealous, presumably, of Rostand's fame, and must not
be taken seriously.

Rostand's house is one of the sights of Cambo, but as a Frenchman wrote:
"_M. Rostand n'est pas toujours à sa fenêtre_." Still the house is there
and those who would worship at the shrine from without may do so.

To get in and out of Cambo one passes over a tiny bridge, so narrow that
one conveyance must wait while another crosses. As the same observant
Frenchman said: "No wonder M. Rostand does not quit Cambo if he has to
cross a bridge like this!" Automobiles especially have an annoying time
of it, and the new "automobile _corne quadruple_" as it whistles out the
famous air: "_Je suis le pâtre des montagnes_," will not turn a Basque
peasant and his donkey aside once the latter has set his forefoot on the
curious old bridge.

At Cambo the bathing establishment is in a half-hidden, tree-grown
corner on the banks of the transparent Nive.

Cambo, in spite of having "arrived" to a position of affluence and
popularity, is but a commune of the canton of Espelette, whose
market-town itself has but a population of fifteen hundred souls, though
it draws half as many again to its bosom each bi-weekly market day,
mostly Basques from Spain. Espelette is full of curious old Basque
houses, and its manners and customs are quaint and queer; in short it is
most interesting, though if you stop for lunch at any one of its four or
five little inns you will most likely want to get back to Cambo by
diligence for the night. Espelette's chief industry is tanning leather
and making those curious Basque shoes called _espadrilles_.

Above Cambo, a dozen kilometres, are the Châteaux Teillery and Itxassou.
Itxassou possesses a richly endowed church, with an entire silver-gilt
altar, the gift of a "Basque-Americain" of the eighteenth century, Pedro
d'Echegaray.



CHAPTER XXVIII

BAYONNE: ITS PORT AND ITS WALLS

[Illustration]


The foundation of Bayonne is lost in the obscurity of ages, but it was
the capital of the Basque country.

Three distinct _quartiers_ are formed by the flowing waters of the Nive
and the Adour, communication being by a series of exceedingly
picturesque, if not exactly serviceable, bridges. The bridges of
Bayonne are famous in the eyes of artists, and lovers of damp,
moss-grown and weathered masonry, but an engineer of this age of steel
would consider them inefficient abominations, and not at all suited to a
great port and sous-préfecture such as Bayonne.

One of the finest works of Vauban, the fortress builder, was the
defences of Bayonne. The walls and ramparts were exceedingly efficacious
in times past (though to-day they look flimsy enough), and crowning all,
was a superb fortress at the juncture of the two rivers which come
together here, flowing from the fastnesses of the Pyrenees to the sea.

The Allées Marines at Bayonne, a sort of tree-covered jetty-promenade,
are a unique feature in civic embellishment. The water-gate at Bordeaux
is fine, and so is the Thames Embankment in London, and the Battery in
New York, but those Allées at Bayonne lead them all.

The Adour, coursing its way to the sea down through Bayonne, was fickle
enough one day to leave its bed, and force an outlet three leagues or
more away, threatening disaster to Bayonne's port. The citizens rose in
might and took counsel, and decided that something must be done or they
would die of sheer ennui, if not of poverty. There came to the rescue
one Louis de Foix, the same who had been the architect of Spain's
Escurial, and in 1579 he harnessed the water's flow and returned it to
its ancient bed.

[Illustration: _A Gateway of Bayonne_]

Bayonne glories in the fact that she has never submitted to a foreign
yoke, and when taken from the English, who had usurped it as a
Plantagenet birthright, by Charles VII, in the fifteenth century, the
people of Bayonne recognized that they had come to their own again
through the efforts of their fellow Basques. The city's device "_Nunquam
Polluta_" is distinctly appropriate.

It was to Bayonne that François Premier came to meet his court, after
his days of imprisonment at Madrid, as the hostage of his old enemy
Charles V. He was confined only in the luxuriously appointed palace at
Madrid, but, as he himself said, "the cage was none the less a cage for
being gilded."

Here at Bayonne awaited François' mother, his sister Marguerite, and a
gay court of followers, not forgetting "a brilliant _parterre_ of young
beauties assembled in their train," as Du Bellay puts it.

François' adoration for "brilliant _parterres_" of young ladies was ever
one of his failings, and the master of ceremonies of the temporary
court of Bayonne thought enough of his position to get together an
entrancing bevy, the most beautiful among them all being the famous Anne
de Pisseleu, she who was afterwards to become the Duchesse d'Étampes.
Diane de Poitiers was there too, having come to Bayonne as lady in
waiting to the regent, but it was Anne de Pisseleu who won François'
favour of the moment, and he even allowed her to publicly refer to the
insistent Diane as "an old hag," and declare that she herself was born
on Diane's wedding day. This was after he had put aside Diane.

Vicomte d'Orth was governor of Bayonne on that dread Bartholomew's night
when the tocsin rang out all over the French domain. He wrote to Charles
IX as follows, showing the fidelity and steadfastness of the people of
these parts, when in more frigid climes they lost their heads in an
uncontrollable fury:

"I have communicated the letter of your Majesty to the garrison, and to
the inhabitants of the city; I have found only brave soldiers and good
citizens and not a single murderer."

Bayonne to-day is frankly commercial; its docks and wharves are
possessed of a considerable deep-sea traffic; and one sees
three-masters from the Banks of Newfoundland, and cargo-boats from
Senegal, side by side at its quays. It is, too, the distributing depot
for the whole Basque country, the chief market where the peasant goes to
buy Seth Thomas clocks and Smith and Wesson revolvers, each made in
Belgium most likely; in England and America the cry is "made in
Germany;" in France, it's "made in Belgium."

All of the Basque country, and a part of Béarn, depend on Bayonne for
certain supplies; even Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz are but its
satellites.

Walckenaer's "Géographie des Gauls" says the evolution of the name
Bayonne was from the Basque Lapurdam, "city of thieves," but nothing
to-day about her warm welcome for strangers justifies this, so it were
best forgot. Bayonne in the old days--and to some extent to-day--spoke
intermittently Gascon, Français, Béarnais and Spanish, and it is this
notable blend of peoples and tongues that makes it so charming.

The _Quartier Landais_ was the mother city of Bayonne, the oldest
portion out of which the other faubourgs grew. Within the old walls, and
in the narrow streets, all is mediæval even now, but in the newer
quarters the straight, rectangular lines of streets and sidewalks are,
as the French call them, _à l'Américaine_.

The Pont Mayou at Bayonne is the liveliest, gayest spot in all the
Basque country. It is the virtual centre of this ancient capital.

Bayonne's cathedral is lovely enough when viewed from afar, particularly
the ensemble of its spires with the roof-tops of the town--a sort of
reminiscence of Nuremberg--and this in spite of the fact that Taine in
his description of it called it ugly.

In the olden times, the city had an important Jewish quarter, whose
inhabitants were an overflow of those expelled from Spain and Portugal.
This little city of the Landes became a miniature Frankfort, and had
three synagogues where the rabbis held services in the Spanish tongue.
The phenomenon has disappeared, by a process of evolution and infusion,
and one no more remarks the Jewish type as at all distinct from the
Basque.

An incident happened at Bayonne fort during the Peninsular War which
seems to have been greatly neglected by historians, though Gleig, the
novelist, in "The Subaltern," makes much of it. The English, believing
that peace had been declared, resented an unprovoked French sortie from
Bayonne's citadel on the tenth of April, 1814. This was the last
British fight on French soil, if fight it was. A number of the guards,
including four officers, died of wounds received at this engagement.

The following anonymous verses tell the story well:

    "For England here they fell.
     Yon sea-like water guards each hero's grave.
     Far Pyrenean heights, mindful, attest
     That here our bravest and our best
     Their supreme proof of love and loyalty gave,
     Dying for England well.

    "Among those distant heights,
     Had many a day the wrathful cannon roared.
     Through black ravine and sunny field of Spain
     War's headlong torrent rolled amain.
     Irun's defile and Bidassoa's ford
     Beheld a hundred fights.

    "Last, by this sea-like wave,
     Threatening the fort our martial lines were drawn.
     Fierce broke upon their watch at midnight hour
     The swift sortie, the bullets' shower.
     Red carnage ceased with slowly wakening dawn.
     France keeps the true and brave."

A kilometre or two outside the walls of Bayonne--the same which defied
the British in 1814--is a guide-post bearing the inscription (the writer
thinks in English) "To the Guards' Cemetery." Down a by-road around a
turning or two, and past a score of vine-clad cottages of Basque
peasants one comes to the spot in question, a little railed-in plot of
hallowed ground. Here are seen the original weather-worn headstones of
nearly a century ago, and a newer series, practically replicas of the
former.

There is also a tablet stating that on this spot stood the "Third Guards
Camp." That is all. It resembles the conventional cemetery not at all,
and may be considered a memorial, nothing more. Certainly there is
nothing pathetic or sad about it, for all is green and bright and
smiling. If one can put themselves in this mood it is certainly a good
one in which to make a pilgrimage to a city of the dead.

There is another warlike reminiscence connected with Bayonne, which is
worth recalling, and that is that Bayonne was the birthplace of the
bayonet, as was Troyes (in France) the birthplace of that species of
weights which is not avoirdupois.

A mid-Victorian writer in England criticized Dickens' story in
_Household Words_, called "Perils of Certain English Prisoners," wherein
the soldiers carried bayonets in their muskets and cartridges in their
haversacks. This particular critic nodded, as they sometimes do.
Cartridges were invented in 1586, and bayonets first made their
appearance at Bayonne in 1641, and the scene of Dickens' tale was laid a
hundred or two years later.

Those who think that York ham, which even the French know as _Jambon
d'Yorck_, is a superlative sort of pig-product, should become acquainted
with the _jambons de Bayonne_, from Basque pigs, cured with the natural
salts of the commune of Salies. There is no room left for comparison
with other hams. Those of Bayonne are the peers of their class, not
forgetting even the sugar-cured variety of the Old Dominion.

There is a considerable chocolate business at Bayonne, too, though not
with the interior, which mostly gets its supplies from Paris, but with
the French colonies, notably with the tiny market of St.
Pierre-et-Miquelon, which, by some business pact or reasoning, is held
to be sacred to the chocolate manufacturers of Bayonne.



CHAPTER XXIX

BIARRITZ AND SAINT-JEAN-DE-LUZ

[Illustration: _Biarritz and the Surrounding Country_]


If Bayonne is the centre of commercial affairs for the Basque country,
its citizens must at any rate go to Biarritz if they want to live "the
elegant and worldly life."

The prosperity and luxury of Biarritz is very recent; it goes back only
to the second empire, when it was but a village of a thousand souls or
less, mostly fishermen and women.

The railway and the automobile omnibus make communication with Bayonne
to-day easy, but formerly folk came and went on a donkey side-saddle for
two, arranged back to back, like the seats on an Irish jaunting-car. If
the weight were unequal a balance was struck by adding cobble-stones on
one side or the other, the patient donkey not minding in the least. This
astonishing mode of conveyance was known as a _cacolet_, and replaced
the _voitures_ and _fiacres_ of other resorts. An occasional example may
still be seen, but the _jolies Basquaises_ who conducted them have given
way to sturdy, bare-legged Basque boys--as picturesque perhaps, but not
so entrancing to the view. To voyage "_en cacolet_" was the necessity of
our grandfathers; for us it is an amusement only.

Napoleon III, or rather Eugénie, his spouse, was the faithful godfather
of Biarritz as a resort. The Villa Eugénie is no more; it was first
transformed into a hotel and later destroyed by fire; but it was the
first of the great battery of villas and hotels which has made Biarritz
so great that the popularity of Monte Carlo is steadily waning.
Biarritz threatens to become even more popular; some sixteen thousand
visitors came to Biarritz in 1899, but there were thirty-odd thousand in
1903; while the permanent population has risen from two thousand, seven
hundred in the days of the second empire to twelve thousand, eight
hundred in 1901. The tiny railway from Bayonne to Biarritz transported
half a million travellers twenty years ago, and a million and a half, or
nearly that number in 1903; the rest, being millionaires, or gypsies,
came in automobiles or caravans. These figures tell eloquently of the
prosperity of this _villégiature impériale_.

The great beauty of Biarritz is its setting. At Monte Carlo the setting
is also beautiful, ravishingly beautiful, but the architecture, the
terrace, Monaco's rock and all the rest combine to make the pleasing
ensemble. At Biarritz the architecture of its casino and the great
hotels is not of an epoch-making beauty, neither are they so
delightfully placed. It is the surrounding stage-setting that is so
lovely. Here the jagged shore line, the blue waves, the ample horizon
seaward, are what make it all so charming.

[Illustration: BIARRITZ]

Biarritz as a watering-place has an all the year round clientèle; in
summer the Spanish and the French, succeeded in winter by Americans,
Germans, and English--with a sprinkling of Russians at all times.

Biarritz, like Pau, aside from being a really delightful winter resort,
where one may escape the rigours of murky November to March in London,
is becoming afflicted with a bad case of _la fièvre du sport_. There are
all kinds of sports, some of them reputable enough in their place, but
the comic-opera fox-hunting which takes place at Pau and Biarritz is not
one of them. It is entirely out of place in this delightful southland,
and most disconcerting it is as you are strolling out from Biarritz some
bright January or February morning, along the St. Jean-de-Luz road, to
be brushed to one side by a cantering lot of imitation sportsmen and
women from overseas, and shouted at as if you had no rights. This is bad
enough, but it is worse to have to hear the talk of the cafés and hotel
lounging-rooms, which is mostly to the effect that a fox was "uncovered"
near the ninetieth kilometre stone on the Route d'Espagne, and the
"kill" was brought off in the little chapel of the Penitents Blanc,
where, for a moment, you once loitered and rested watching the blue
waves of the Golfe of Gascogne roll in at your feet. It is indeed
disconcerting, this eternal interpolation of inappropriate manners and
customs which the _grand monde_ of society and sport (_sic_) is trying
to carry round with it wherever it goes.

To what banal depths a jaded social world can descend to keep
amused--certainly not edified--is gathered from the following
description of a "gymkhana" held at Biarritz at a particularly silly
period of a silly season. It was not a French affair, by the way, but
gotten up by visitors.

The events which attracted the greatest interest were the "_Concours
d'addresse_," and the "pig-sticking." For the first of these, a very
complicated and intricate course was laid out, over which had to be
driven an automobile, and as it contained almost every obstacle and
difficulty that can be conceived for a motor-car--except a police trap,
the strength and quality (?) of the various cars as well as the skill
(??) of the drivers, were put to a very severe test. Mr ---- was first
both in "tilting at the ring" and in the "pig-sticking" contests, the
latter being the _best_ item of the show. One automobile, with that
_rara avis_, a flying (air-inflated dummy) pig attached to it, started
off, hotly pursued by another, with its owner, lance in hand, sitting
beside the chauffeur. The air-inflated quarry in the course of its wild
career performed some curious antics which provoked roars of laughter.
Of course every one was delighted and edified at this display of wit and
brain power. The memory of it will probably last at Biarritz until
somebody suggests an automobile race with the drivers and passengers
clad in bathing suits.

The gambling question at Biarritz has, in recent months, become a great
one. There have been rumours that it was all to be done away with, and
then again rumours that it would still continue. Finally there came the
Clemenceau law, which proposed to close all public gambling-places in
France, and the smaller "establishments" at Biarritz shut their doors
without waiting to learn the validity of the law, but the Municipal
Casino still did business at the old stand.

The mayor of Biarritz has made strenuous representations to the Minister
of the Interior at Paris in favour of keeping open house at the Basque
watering-place, urging that the town would suffer, and Monte Carlo and
San Sebastian would thrive at its expense. This is probably so, but as
the matter is still in abeyance, it will be interesting to see how the
situation is handled by the authorities.

The picturesque "Plage des Basques" lies to the south of the town,
bordered with high cliffs, which in turn are surmounted with terraces of
villas. The charm of it all is incomparable. To the northwest stretches
the limpid horizon of the Bay of Biscay, and to the south the snowy
summits of the Pyrenees, and the adorable Bays of Saint-Jean-de-Luz and
Fontarabie, while behind, and to the eastward, lies the quaint country
of the Basques, and the mountain trails into Spain in all their savage
hardiness.

The offshore translucent waters of the Gulf of Gascony were the _Sinus
Aquitanicus_ of the ancients. A colossal rampart of rocks and sand dunes
stretches all the way from the Gironde to the Bidassoa, without a
harbour worthy of the name save at Bayonne and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Here
the Atlantic waves pound, in time of storm, with all the fury with which
they break upon the rocky coasts of Brittany further north. Perhaps this
would not be so, but for the fact that the Iberian coast to the
southward runs almost at right angles with that of Gascony. As it is,
while the climate is mild, Biarritz and the other cities on the coasts
of the Gulf of Gascony have a fair proportion of what sailors the world
over call "rough weather."

The waters of the Gascon Gulf are not always angry; most frequently they
are calm and blue, vivid with a translucence worthy of those of Capri,
and it is that makes the "Plage de Biarritz" one of the most popular
sea-bathing resorts in France to-day. It is a fashionable
watering-place, but it is also, perhaps, the most beautifully disposed
city to be found in all the round of the European coast line, its
slightly curving slope dominated by a background terrace decorative in
itself, but delightfully set off with its fringe of dwelling-houses,
hotels and casinos. Ostend is superbly laid out, but it is dreary; Monte
Carlo is beautiful, but it is _ultra_; while Trouville is constrained
and affected. Biarritz has the best features of all these.

The fishers of Biarritz, living mostly in the tiny houses of the
Quartier de l'Atalaye, like the Basque sailors of Bayonne and
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, pursue their trade to the seas of Iceland and
Spitzbergen.

As a whaling-port, before Nantucket and New Bedford were discovered by
white men, Biarritz was famous. A "_lettre patent_" of Henri IV gave a
headquarters to the whalers of the old Basque seaport in the following
words:

"Un lieu sur la coste de la mer Oceane, qu'il se decouvre de six et set
lieus, tous les navaires et barques qui entrent et sortent de la coste
d'Espaiñe."

A dozen miles or so south of Biarritz is Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The
coquettish little city saw in olden times the marriage of Louis XIV and
Marie Thérèse of Spain, one of the most brilliant episodes of the
eighteenth century. In the town is still pointed out the Maison
Lohabiague, a queer little angle-towered house, not in the least
pretentious, where lived for a time the future queen and Anne d'Autriche
as well. It is called to-day the Maison de l'Infante.

There is another historic edifice here known as the Château Louis XIV,
built by him as a residence for occupation "on the day of his marriage."
It was a whim, doubtless, but a worthy one.

[Illustration: _St.-Jean-de-Luz_]

St.-Jean-de-Luz has become a grand pleasure resort, and its picturesque
port has little or no commercial activity save such as is induced by its
being a safe port of shelter to which ships may run when battled by
adverse winds and waves as they ply up and down the coasts of the
Gascon Gulf. The ancient marine opulence of the port has disappeared
entirely, and the famous _goëlettes Basques_, or what we would call
schooners, which hunted whales and fished for cod in far-off waters in
the old days, and lent a hand in marine warfare when it was on, are no
more. All the waterside activity to-day is of mere offshore
fishing-boats.

Vauban had planned that Saint-Jean-de-Luz should become a great
fortified port. Its situation and surroundings were admirably suited to
such a condition, but the project was abandoned by the authorities long
years since.

The fishing industry of Saint-Jean-de-Luz is very important. First there
is "_la grande pêche_," carried on offshore by several small steamers
and large _chaloupes_, and bringing to market sardines, anchovies,
tunny, roach, and _dorade_. Then there is "_la petite pêche_," which
gets the shallow-bottom fish and shellfish, such as lobsters, prawns,
etc. The traffic in anchovies is considerable, and is carried on by the
coöperative plan, the captain or owner of the boat taking one part, the
owner of the nets three parts of one quarter of the haul; and the other
three-quarters of the entire produce being divided equally among the
crew. Similar arrangements, on slightly varying terms, are made as to
other classes of fish.

Saint-Jean-de-Luz had a population of ten thousand two centuries ago;
to-day it has three thousand, and most of those take in boarders, or in
one way or another cater to the hordes of visitors who have made of
it--or would if they could have suppressed its quiet Basque charm of
colouring and character--a little Brighton.

Not all is lost, but four hundred houses were razed in the
mid-eighteenth century by a tempest, and the stable population began to
creep away; only with recent years an influx of strangers has arrived
for a week's or a month's stay to take their places--if idling
butterflies of fashion or imaginary invalids can really take the place
of a hard-working, industrious colony of fishermen, who thought no more
of sailing away to the South Antarctic or the Banks of Newfoundland in
an eighty-ton whaler than they did of seining sardines from a shallop in
the Gulf of Gascony at their doors.

Enormous and costly works have been done here at Saint-Jean-de-Luz since
its hour of glory began with the marriage of Louis XIV with the Infanta
of Spain, just after the celebrated Treaty of the Pyrenees.

The ambitious Louis would have put up his equipage and all his royal
train at Bayonne, but the folk of Saint-Jean would hear of nothing of
the sort. The mere fact that Saint-Jean could furnish fodder for the
horses, and Bayonne could not, was the inducement for the royal cortège
to rest here. Because of this event, so says tradition, the king's
equerries caused the great royal portal of the church to be walled up,
that other royalties--and mere plebeians--might not desecrate it.
History is not very ample on this point, but local legend supplies what
the general chronicle ignores.

On the banks of the Nivelle, in the days of Louis XIII, were celebrated
shipyards which turned out ships of war of three hundred or more tons,
to battle for their king against Spain. In 1627, too, Saint-Jean-de-Luz
furnished fifty ships to Richelieu to break the blockade of the Ile of
Ré, then being sustained by the English.

One recalls here also the sad affair of the Connétable de Bourbon, his
conspiracy against the king of France, and how when his treachery was
discovered he fled from court, and, "accompanied by a band of
gentlemen," galloped off toward the Spanish frontier. Here at
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, almost at the very entrance of the easiest gateway
into Spain through the Pyrenees, Bourbon was last seen straining every
power and nerve to escape those who were on his trail, and every wit he
possessed to secure an alliance with the Spanish on behalf of his
tottering cause.

"By Our Lady," said the king, "such treason is a blot upon knighthood.
Bourbon a man as great as ourselves! Can he not be apprehended ere he
crosses the frontier?" But no, Bourbon, for the time, was safe enough,
though he met his death in Italy at the siege of Rome and his projected
Spanish alliance never came off anyway.

Ten or twelve kilometres beyond Saint-Jean-de-Luz is Urrugne and its
clock tower. Victor Hugo rhymed it thus:

                       "...Urrugne,
    Nom rauque dont le nom a la rime répugne,"

and his words, and the Latin inscription on its face, have served to
make this little Basque village celebrated.

    "Vulnerant omnes, ultima necat."

Travellers by diligence in the old days, passing on the "Route Royale"
from France to Spain, stopped to gaze at the _Horloge d'Urrugne_, and
took the motto as something personal, in view of the supposed dangers of
travelling by road. To-day the automobilist and the traveller by train
alike, rush through to Hendaye, with never a thought except as to what
new form of horror the customs inspection at the frontier will bring
forth.

Urrugne is worth being better known, albeit it is but a dull little
Basque village of a couple of thousand inhabitants, for in addition it
has a country inn which is excellent of its kind, if primitive. All
around is a delightful, green-grown landscape, from which, however, the
vine is absent, the humidity and softness of the climate not being
conducive to the growth of the grape. In some respects the country
resembles Normandy, and the Basques of these parts, curiously enough,
produce cider, of an infinitesimal quantity to be sure, compared to the
product of Normandy or Brittany, but enough for the home consumption of
those who affect it.



CHAPTER XXX

THE BIDASSOA AND THE FRONTIER


In the western valleys of the Pyrenees, opening out into the Landes
bordering upon the Golfe de Gascogne, rises the little river Bidassoa,
famous in history and romance. To the Basques its name is Bastanzubi,
and its length is but sixty-five kilometres.

In the upper valley, in Spanish territory, is Elizondo, the tiny capital
of olden times, and three other tiny Spanish towns whose names suggest
nothing but an old-world existence.

In its last dozen or fifteen kilometres the Bidassoa forms the boundary
between France and Spain, and mid-stream--below Hendaye, the last French
station on the railway between Paris and Madrid--is the famous Ile des
Faisans.

All of this is classic ground. Just across the river from Hendaye is
Irun, the first station on the Spanish railway line. It offers nothing
special in the way of historical monuments, save a fourteenth-century
Hôtel de Ville and innumerable old houses. Its characteristics are as
much French as Spanish, and its speech the same, when its people don't
talk Basque.

[Illustration: _Ile des Faisans_]

A historic incident of the Ile des Faisans was the famous affair of
1526, when, after the Battle of Pavia, and François Premier had been
made prisoner by Charles V, the former was _exchanged_ against his two
children as hostages.

Three years later the children themselves were redeemed by another
_exchange_, this time of much gold and many precious "relics," as one
learns from the old chronicles.

In 1615, on the same classic spot, as far from Spanish territory as from
French, Anne of Austria, the fiancée of Louis XIII, was put into the
hands of the French by the Spanish, who received in return Elizabeth of
France, fiancée of Philippe III. Quite a mart the Ile des Faisans had
become! The culminating event was the signing of the celebrated Traité
des Pyrénées, on November 7th, 1659.

When François Premier, fleeing from Madrid, where he had been the
prisoner of Charles V, first set foot upon French soil again at this
imaginary boundary line, he said: "At last I am a king again! Now I am
really free." It was only through the efforts of his sister that
François was able to escape his royal jailer. He had made promises which
he did not intend to live up to; the king perjured himself but he saved
France.

He rode with all speed from Madrid to meet his boys, the Dauphin and the
Duc d'Orleans, who were to replace him as hostages at Madrid. On the
river's edge the sons were awaiting their father, with an emotion too
vivid for description. They had no fear, and they entered willingly into
the plan which was laid down for them, but the meeting and the parting
was most sad. Wild with excitement of liberty being so near, François
could hardly wait for the ferry to take him across, and even waded into
the river to meet it as they pulled towards it. On French soil a
splendid retinue awaited him, and once more the French king was
surrounded by his luxurious court.

To-day the Island of Pheasants is hardly more than a sand bar, and
Mazarin and Don Louis de Haro, and their numerous suites would have a
hard time finding a foothold. The currents of the river and the ocean
have made of it only a pinhead on modern maps. In 1856, at the expense
of the two countries, a stone memorial, with an inscription in French
and Spanish, was erected to mark the site of this fast dwindling island.

Irun and Feuntarrabia, with the three French communes of Biriaton,
Béhobie and Hendaye enjoy reciprocal rights over the waters of the
estuary of this epoch and history making river. This is the result of an
agreement of long years standing, known as the "Pacte de Famille," an
agreement made between the French and Spanish Basques (those of the
_béret bleu_ with the _béret rouge_) with the concurrence of the French
and Spanish authorities.

Crossing the Pont International between France and Spain may prove to be
an amusing and memorable sensation. If a man at one end of the bridge
offers you an umbrella, or a parasol, to keep off the sun's rays during
this promenade, saying that you can leave it with a friend at the other
end, don't take it. The other who would take it from you may be
prevented from doing so by a Spanish gendarme or a customs official, who
indeed is just as likely to catch you first. The fine is "easy" enough
for this illicit traffic, but the international complications are many
and great. So, too, will be the inconveniences to yourself.

Around the Pont International, on both the French and Spanish sides, is
as queer a collection of stray dogs and cats as one will see out of
Constantinople. They are of a "_race imprécise, vraies bêtes
internationales_," the customhouse officer tells you, and from their
looks there's no denying it. They may not be wicked, may only bark and
not bite, mew and not scratch, but only they themselves know this. To
the rest of us they look suspicious.

From Hendaye one may enter Spain by any one of three means of
communication,--by railway, on foot across the Pont de Béhobie, or by a
boat across the Bidassoa. The first means is the most frequented; for a
_piécette_--that is to say a _pièce blanche_ of Spanish money, which has
the weight and appearance of a franc, but a considerably reduced
value--one can cross by train; a boatman will take you for half the
price at any time of the day or night; and by the Pont International,
it costs nothing.

[Illustration: _The Frontier at Hendaye_]

This international bridge belongs half to France and half to Spain, the
post in the middle bearing the respective arms marking the limits of the
territorial rights of each.

This is one of the most curiously ordained frontiers in all the world.
The people of Urrugne in France, twenty kilometres distant from the
frontier, can hold speech freely in their mother tongue with those of
Feuntarrabia in Spain, but officialdom of the customs and railway
organizations at Hendaye and Irun, next-door neighbours, have to
translate their speech from French to Spanish and vice versa, or have
an interpreter who will. Curious anomaly this!

Hendaye's chief shrine is a modern one, the singularly-built house, on a
rock dominating the bay, formerly inhabited by Pierre Loti, though most
of his fellow townsmen knew him only as Julian Viaud, Lieutenant de
Vaisseau. This, though the commander of the miserable little gunboat
called the "_Javelot_" stationed always in the Bidassoa was an
_Académicien_.

At the French entrance to this important frontier bridge one reads on a
panel PONT INTERNATIONAL; and at the Spanish end, PUENTE INTERNACIONAL;
and here the _gendarme_ of France become the _carabiniero_ of Spain.

Béhobie, at the Spanish end of the bridge, the French call "the biggest
hamlet in Europe." It virtually is a hamlet, but it has some of the
largest business and industrial enterprises in the country, for here
have been established branch houses and factories of many a great French
industry in order to avoid the tariff tax imposed on foreign products in
the Spanish peninsula. The game has been played before elsewhere, but
never so successfully as here.

[Illustration: _Maison Pierre Loti, Hendaye_]

On the Pointe de Ste. Anne, the northern boundary of the estuary of
the Bidassoa, is a monumental château, the work of Viollet-le-Duc, built
by him for the Comte d'Abbadie. Modern though it is, its architectural
opulence is in keeping with the knowledge of its builder (the greatest
authority on Gothic the world has ever known, or ever will know); and as
a combination of the excellencies of old-time building with modern
improvements, this Château d'Abbadie stands quite in a class by itself.
At the death of the widow of the Comte d'Abbadie, the château was
bequeathed by her to the Institut de France.

The view seaward from the little peninsula upon which the château sits
is marvellously soft and beautiful, and what matter it if the fish of
the Golfe de Fontarabie to the south have no eyes--if indeed his
statement be true. No oculist or zoölogist has said it, but a poet has
written thus:--

    "Le poisson qui rouvrit l'oeil mort du vieux Tobie
     Se joue au fond du golfe où dort fontarabie."

Near by is the Forêt d'Yraty, much like most of the forests of France,
except that this is all up and down hill, clinging perilously wherever
there is enough loose soil for a tree to take root.

The inhabitants tell you of a "wild man" discovered here by the
shepherds, in 1774, long before the days of circus wild men. He was
tall, well proportioned and covered with hair like a bear, and always in
a good humour, though he did not speak an intelligible language. His
chief amusement was sheep-stealing, and one day it was determined to
take him prisoner. The shepherds and the authorities tried for
twenty-five years, until finally he disappeared from view--and so the
legend ends.

Across the estuary of the Bidassoa, in truth, the Baie de Fontarabie,
the sunsets are of a magnificence seldom seen. There _may_ be others as
gorgeous elsewhere, but none more so, and one can well imagine the same
refulgent red glow, of which historians write, that graced the occasion
when Cristobal Colon (or his Basque precursor) set out into the west.

In connection with all this neighbouring Franco-Espagnol country of the
Basques, one is bound to recall the great events of these last years,
both at Biarritz, and at San Sebastian, across the border. The cachet of
the king of England's approval has been given to the former, and of that
of the king of Spain to the latter. Already the region has become known
as the _Côte d'Argent_, as is the Riviera the _Côte d'Azure_, and the
north Brittany coast the _Côte d'Emeraud_.

It was here on the _Côte d'Argent_ that King Alfonso did his wooing, his
automobile flashing to and fro between St. Sebastian and Biarritz,
crossing and recrossing the frontier stream of the Bidassoa. Bridges of
stone and steel carry the traffic now, and it passes between Irun and
Hendaye, higher up the river, but in the old days, the days of François
I, the passage was more picturesquely made by ferry.

Feuntarrabia is but a stone's throw away, sitting, as it were, desolate
and forgotten on its promontory beyond the sands, and as the sun sets,
flinging its blood-red radiance over sea and shore, the aspect is all
very quiet, very peaceful, and fair. It is difficult to realize the
stirring times that once passed over the spot, the war thunder that
shook the echoes of the hills. May the bloody scenes of the _Côte
d'Argent_ be over for ever, and its future be as happy as King Alfonso's
wooing.

At Feuntarrabia, but a step beyond Irun, one enters his first typical
Spanish town. You know this because touts try to sell you, and every one
else, a lottery ticket, and because the beggars, who, apparently, are as
numerous as their tribe in Naples, quote proverbs at your head.

You may understand them or you may not, but since Spain is the land of
proverbs, it is but natural that you should meet with them forthwith.
Here is one, though it is more like an enigma; and when translated it
becomes but an old friend in disguise:--

    "Un manco escribio una carta,
     Un siega la esta mirando;
     Un mudo la esta leyenda
     Y un sordo la esta escuchando."

    "A handless man a letter did write,
     A dumb dictated it word for word;
     The person who read it had lost his sight,
     And deaf was he who listened and heard."

One need not be a phenomenal linguist to understand this, even in the
vernacular.

Feuntarrabia itself is a cluster of brown-red houses piled high along
the narrow streets, with deep eaves over-hanging grated windows, and
carved doorways leading to shady courts.

There is a certain squalid, gone-to-ruin air about everything, which, in
this case, is but a charm; but one can picture from the blazoned stone
coats-of-arms seen here and there that the dwellers of olden time were
proud and reverend seigneurs.

[Illustration: _In Old Feuntarrabia_]

Feuntarrabia, the little sea-coast town, called even by the French
_la perle de la Bidassoa_ is contrastingly different to
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, though not twenty kilometres away. It is Spanish to
the core, and on the escutcheon above the city gate one reads an ancient
inscription to the effect that it belonged to the kings of Castile and
was always "a very noble, very loyal, very brave and always faithful
city."

Feuntarrabia was once a fortress of renown, but that was in the long
ago. It was a theatre of battles without end. Here Condé was repulsed,
together with the best chivalry of France, and it was then that the
grateful Spanish king ordered that for evermore it should be styled "the
most noble, the most leal, the most valorous of cities"--a title which
does actually appear on legal documents unto this day. The Duke of
Berwick, King James Stuart's gallant son, once succeeded in taking the
place, and it was then so utterly dismantled by the French that it has
never since been reckoned among the fortified places of Spain. But the
city must indeed have felt the old war spirit stir again when it beheld
those two great generals, Soult and Wellington, strive for victory
before its hoary walls in 1813. Inch by inch the British had forced
Napoleon's men from Spain; and here on the very frontier of France,
Maréchal Soult gathered his forces for one last desperate stand. No
British foot, he swore, should dare to touch the soil of France. But one
chill October day, when the rain was falling on the broken, trodden
vineyards, and the wind came moaning from the sullen sea, the word was
given along the English ranks to pass the Bidassoa. And across the river
came a line of scarlet fighting men, haggard and war-worn, many of them
wounded, all of them weary. The result of that day is written on the
annals of military glory as "one of the most daring exploits of military
genius." Long afterwards Soult himself acknowledged it was the most
splendid episode of the Peninsular War.

THE END.



Index


Abbadie, Château d', 443

_Abelles, Seigneurs des_, 108

Accous, 333

Agde, 24, 28, 55

Agen, 52, 224

Aigues-Mortes, 55, 56, 85

_Albret Family, D'_, 232, 235, 256, 260, 261, 267, 270-274, 280, 281,
310, 340, 344, 345, 347, 350, 356-367

_Alphonse XIII_, 318, 445

Amauros, Château d', 122

Amboise, 42, 64

Amélie-les-Bains, 5, 70, 137, 138

Andorra, 47, 140, 144, 146-151, 184, 203, 304

Andorra-Viella, 148

_Arago, François_, 103

_Aragon, House of_, 96, 97, 122, 123, 128, 139, 305

Aramits, 251-252, 328, 344

_Arc, Jeanne d'_, 31

Archachon, 53

Argelès, 122-123, 318

Ariège, 9, 177

Arles-en-Provence, 111, 117

Arles-sur-Tech, 98, 138-139, 140

Armagnac, Comté d', 9, 13, 14, 84, 256, 266, 366

_Armagnac Family, D'_, 193, 256-257, 356, 365

Armendarits, 252, 253

_Arnaud, Abbé Felix_, 156-157

Arnéguy, 400

Arques, 41

Arreau, 303-304

_Arsinois, Valentine d'_, 282

Artagnan, 344

Arudy, 296

Ascarat, 400

Aspremont, Château of, 246-247

Athos, 344

Auch, 8, 225

Audaux and Its Château, 348

_Aude, Département de l'_, 9, 15, 16

Avignon, 104

Avocat-Vieux, L', 198

Axat, 152, 156, 158-159

Ax-les-Thermes, 67-68, 70, 206-209


Badefols, 76

_Baluffe, Auguste_, 152

Bagnères de Bigorre, 5, 70, 303, 321, 322, 323

Bagnères-de-Luchon (_see_ Luchon)

_Baigorry, Vicomtes de_, 397-399, 400

_Balaguer, Victor_, 176

Banyuls-sur-Mer, 14, 58, 82, 128-129

Barcelona, 3, 56, 58, 81, 82, 99, 107, 125, 136, 145, 184

Barèges, 70, 321-322

Barétous, 250-251, 328-330

Bas-Languedoc, 8, 9

Basque Provinces, 9, 46, 53, 59, 62, 74-76, 80, 241, 246, 372-392

Basse-Navarre, 17, 244, 246, 354-371, 393

Basses-Pyrénées, 9, 62, 63, 64, 262, 380, 390

Bayonne, 7, 13, 24, 53, 62, 64, 81, 184, 262, 307, 340, 352, 374, 377,
413-421, 422, 423, 424, 428, 429, 433

Béarn, 1, 9, 13, 17, 28, 44, 62, 76, 84, 176, 177, 186, 191, 230-296,
311, 336, 342, 354-371, 396

_Béarn, Vicomtes de_, 176, 261, 267, 283, 284, 296, 324, 325, 328, 355

Bedous, 332-333

Béhobie, 439, 440, 442

Bellegarde, Fortress de, 4, 56, 81, 136

Bellocq, Château de, 344-345

_Benoit XII_, 180

_Benoit XIII_, 124

_Béranger_, 93

Bergerac, 13

_Bertrand, Jean_, 229

Betharrem, 310-312

Bethmale, 220

Béziers, 15, 24, 55, 85, 122, 152, 153

Biarritz, 2, 3, 46, 54, 60, 61, 64, 163, 165, 233, 305, 346, 377, 378,
384, 417, 422-430, 444, 445

Bidache and Its Château, 240, 244-246

Bidarray, 405, 406

Bielle, 292-293

Biert, 220-221

Bigorre, 3, 5, 9, 50, 70, 84, 176, 208, 222, 283, 303, 311, 356, 366

Bilboa, 99

Billère, 272

Biriaton, 439

_Blanca, Jean_, 118

_Boileau_, 30, 153

_Boniface VIII_, 200

Bordeaux, 8, 12, 13, 15, 28, 52, 53, 60, 163, 186, 249, 262, 378

Born, Bertrand de, Château of, 76

Boulbonne, Abbey of, 181

_Bourbon, Antoine de_, 366

_Bourbon, Connétable de_, 433-434

Bourdette, Château de, 202

Bourg-Madame, 140, 144-146

_Brantome_, 302, 370

Brèche de Roland, 50, 254-256, 406

Bruges, 2, 288

Bunus, 389

Burgette, 403

Burgos, 64


_Cæsar_, 57, 84, 301, 355

Cahors, 13

Camargue, The, 56, 284

Cambo, 62, 71, 378, 405, 408-412

Camprodon, 140

Canfranc, 254

Canet, 118-119

Capcir, 141, 159-160

Carcassonne and Its Château, 3, 7, 15, 24, 25, 42, 46, 85, 102, 104,
121, 152, 153, 154, 161-174, 184, 210

_Carcassonne, Counts of_, 187, 199

Carol, Tour de, 146

Castel-Biel, 25-26

Castelnau-Durban, 214

Catalogne, 176, 184

Cauterets, 3, 5, 70, 84, 208, 318-319, 321, 322, 323, 331

_Centulle Family_, 231, 265, 280, 285, 324, 356

Cerbère and Its Château, 106-108

Cerdagne, The, 140-141, 160

Céret, 83, 137, 140

Cette, 15

Chalosse, 13, 62

_Charlemagne_, 4, 51, 81, 146, 153, 165, 204-205, 218, 400, 401, 406

_Charles Martel_, 73-74

_Charles I_, 142

_Charles V_, 64, 116, 120, 315, 415, 437, 438

_Charles VI_, 178

_Charles VII_, 306, 415

_Charles VIII_, 23, 97, 269, 369

_Charles IX_, 368, 416

_Charpentier, Hubert_, 311

Chavilles, 334

Chelles, 42

Chenonceaux, 42

_Chilperic_, 42

Cirque de Gavarnie, 254, 307

_Clement V_, 227

_Clement VIII_, 120

_Clotaire II_, 42

Coarraze and Its Château, 39, 42, 272, 308-310

Col de Banyuls, 58, 82, 83

Col de la Carbossière, 127

Col de la Perche, 140

Col de Lladrones, 254

Col de Perthus, 56-57, 80, 81, 127, 136, 184

Col de Puymorins, 146

Col de Ronçevaux, 255, 400

Collioure, 14, 107, 123-127

Comminges, Comté de, 9, 84, 191, 211, 222-229, 244

_Comminges, Comtes de_, 225, 228-229, 305-306

Compiègne, 42

_Condé_, _"The Grand,"_ 97, 181, 199, 275, 447

Conflent, 141

_Constant, Benjamin_, 172

_Constant, son of Constantine_, 98

_Constantine_, 98, 120

_Conti, Prince de_, 236

_Convènes, The_, 222

Cortalets, 130

Coucy, 42

Couserans, 211-221, 222

Creil, 42

Cucugnan, 104


_Dambourges_, 344

_Dante_, 250

_Daudet_, 104, 202

Dax, 224, 378

_Delcassé, M._, 145

_Desperriers_, 369

_Despourrins_, 87-88

_Dickens_, 420-421

Digne, 185

_Du Bellay_, 415

_Dugommier_, 123

_Dumas_, 236, 249-250, 251, 343, 344

_Duprat_, 277


Eaux-Bonnes, 5, 70, 289, 293-294, 323

Eaux-Chaudes, 70, 289, 294-295, 323

Echaux, Château d', 397, 398

_Edward I_, 246

_Edward III_, 336-337

_Elissagory, Renaud d'_, 353

Elizondo, 436

Elne, 28, 98, 120-122, 123, 124, 127

_Erasmus_, 370

Escalde, 145

Espelette, 412

Estagel, 103

_Estarbès, D'_, 172

_Evreux Family_, 356

_Expilly, Abbé d'_, 267

Eysus, 327-328


Falaise, 42

_Falguière, Eugene_, 172

Farges, Château de, 399-400

_Favyn_, 267

Fenouillet, Château de, 102

_Ferdinand of Aragon_, 97, 357-358, 371

Feuntarrabia, 80, 377, 439, 441, 445-447

Figueras, 81

Foix and Its Château, 3, 8, 39, 42, 46, 53, 176, 177, 181, 182, 184,
185-196, 197, 199, 202, 209, 213, 214, 315, 335, 343

Foix, Comté de, 1, 8, 9, 17, 53, 76, 175-177, 181-184, 197, 201, 202,
208-209, 211, 212, 221, 244, 256, 356, 366

_Foix, Counts of_, 148, 176-184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 190-195, 198, 199,
205, 208, 209, 231, 268, 311, 342

Fontainebleau, 42

_Foulques, Nerra_, 43, 210

_Fournier, Gaston_ (see _Benoit XII_)

_Foy, General_, 342, 343

_François I_, 21, 23, 64, 97, 365, 415-416, 437-439, 445

Frayras, 198

_Froissart_, 185, 194, 266, 298, 309, 335, 336, 338

Frontignan, 15


Gabas, 295

Gan, 277, 288

_Garat, M._, 74

Gard, 9, 15, 16

Gascogne, 8, 84, 197, 240, 256, 273, 286, 355, 356

_Gassion, Jean de_, 275-277

_Gaston Phoebus de Foix_, 4, 8, 178-180, 185, 191, 192, 193, 210, 233,
240, 261, 266, 267, 268, 310, 315, 336-339, 342, 343, 344

_Gautier, Théophile_, 373

Gavarnie, 58, 62, 254, 321

Gibraltar, 3

Ginestas, 15

Gorges de Pierre Lys, 3, 156-157

Gorges de St. Georges, 152, 158-159

_Grammont Family_, 244-246, 358

_Gregory VII_, 265

Grenada, 3, 66

Grotte de Mas d'Azil, 213-214

Gudanne, Château de, 177

Guiche, Château de, 246

_Gustavus Adolphus_, 276

Guienne, 8, 9, 365


_Hadrian_, 354

_Hannibal_, 81, 96, 120

_Haro, Don Louis de_, 439

Hastingues, 246

Haute-Garonne, 9

Haute-Languedoc, 8, 9

Hautes-Pyrénées, 9, 84, 87, 297

Hendaye, 80, 436, 439, 440-442, 445

_Henri II of France_, 229, 267

_Henri II of Navarre_, 232, 283

_Henri III of France_, 367, 368, 370

_Henri III of Navarre_ (see _Henri IV of France_)

_Henri IV of France_, 3, 7, 13, 24, 84, 178, 180, 181, 196, 213, 231,
232, 233-235, 239, 244, 245, 260, 261, 263, 264, 268, 270-275, 277,
283, 288, 295, 296, 299, 308-309, 327, 359, 363, 366-371, 429

_Henry VIII of England_, 282

Hérault, 9, 15, 16, 89

Hospitalet, 140, 146-147, 148

_Honorius III_, 188

Huesca, 47

_Hugo, Victor_, 254, 333, 373, 434

_Huguet, Pierre_, 107


Iholdy, 352, 353

Ile des Faisans, 63, 97, 436, 437-439

_Innocent VIII_, 227

Irun, 80, 436-437, 439, 442, 445

_Isabella of Castile_, 97, 357

Itxassou, Château, 412


_James I of Aragon_, 96

_Jean II of Roussillon_, 96-97

Jurançon, 264, 271


Lagarde, Fortress of, 139, 140

La Bastide-de-Serou, 25, 202

La Garde, Château de, 218

_La Gaucherie_, 272

Laghat, Notre Dame de, 204

_La Guesle_, 366

Landes, The, 9, 13, 52, 53, 59, 84

Languedoc, 14, 15, 55, 77, 87, 197, 201, 238, 240, 286

Lanne and Its Château, 251-252

_Laon, Gérard de_, 336-337

Laruns, 287, 288-293, 296

Larlenque, 198

Lascaveries, 265

Lasse and Its Château, 398-399, 400

Lastours, Château of, 174

Latour-de-France and Its Château, 103

_Laurens, Jean Paul_, 172

Laustan, Château de, 407-408

Le Boulon, 136, 137

Le Puy, 210

Les Andelys, 41

Lescar, 272, 278-284, 285, 302, 326

_Lesseps, De_, 153

Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (_see_ Saintes Maries)

Le Vigne, 198

_Levis, Guy de_, 200, 201

_Levis-Ajac, François de_, 201

Lézignan, 15

Limoux, 15, 104, 153, 171, 172, 173-174

_Littré_, 76

Llagone, 114

_Lorris, Guillaume de_, 22

_Lothaire_, 122, 124, 128

_Loti, Pierre_, 442

_Louis IX_, 43, 56, 96, 163, 164, 208, 256

_Louis X_, 18, 364

_Louis XI_, 35, 96-97, 116, 119, 123, 124, 126, 181, 330, 338, 369

_Louis XIII_, 97, 112, 116, 123, 140, 189, 209, 359, 397, 433, 437

_Louis XIV_, 23, 73, 108, 136, 140, 142, 182, 189, 228, 275, 347, 398,
430, 432-433

_Louis XV_, 68, 121, 201

_Louis Philippe_, 261

Lourdat, Château de, 39, 177, 209-210

Lourdes and Its Château, 2, 3, 8, 39, 42, 282, 300, 313-317

Louvie-Soubiron, 292

Luchon, 2, 3, 8, 25, 46, 64, 70, 137, 208, 222, 233, 301, 303, 304-306,
323

_Luna, Pierre de_, 116, 124

Lunel, 15

_Luther, Martin_, 327

Luz, 320-321, 322, 323

Luzenac, 209

Lyons, 28


Madrid, 3, 64, 67, 81, 99, 184

Madron, 198

_Majorca, Kings of_, 96, 112, 116, 122, 128

_Mansard_, 23

_Marat_, 369

Marboré, Tours de, 255

_Marca, Pierre de_, 98, 277, 288

Marseilles, 3, 28, 48, 115, 117, 163, 249

Mas d'Azil, 213-214

Mauléon and Its Château, 2, 71, 247-250, 252, 378, 387

_Maupassant, Guy de_, 110

Maures, Château de, 207

_Mazarin_, 439

Mazères and Its Château, 2, 8, 178, 186, 197, 198

_Medici, Catherine de_, 234-235, 366, 367

_Meilleraye, Maréchal de la_, 123

Mende, 185

_Mercier_, 172

_Mérimée, Prosper_, 163

_Mézeray_, 365

_Michaud_, 267

_Mirabel, Château de_, 218

Mirepoix, 184, 193, 200-201

_Moncade Family_, 176, 231

Montauban, 16, 36, 52, 60, 340

Montelimar, 17

_Montesquieu_, 23

_Montfort, Simon de_, 165, 176, 187, 200

_Montgomery_, 311, 313, 339

Montjoie, 214

Mont Louis, 81, 144

_Montmorenci_, 181

Montory, 250

Montpellier, 8, 15, 56

Montréal, Château de, 206, 247, 349

Montrejeau, 222

Montségur, Château de, 201

Morlaas, 2, 261, 284-286


_Nadaud, Gustave_, 162, 170-172, 174

Naples, 125

_Napoleon I_, 30, 71, 293, 400, 447

_Napoleon III_, 263, 423

Narbonne, 15, 55, 120, 127, 152, 153

Nassaure, Château de, 198

Navarre, 1, 9, 28, 46, 62, 76, 176, 186, 231, 240, 281, 354-371, 396,
403

_Navarre Family_, 30, 231, 239, 256, 280, 330-332

Navarreux, 2, 345-348

Navarrino, 81

Nay, 2, 310

Nice, 59, 305

Nîmes, 56, 111

Noailhan, Château de, 218

Nogarède, Château de, 198

Nogent, 42

Notre Dame de Château, 127

Notre Dame de Consolation, 126


Odos, Château d', 302

Oloron, 28, 250, 251, 252, 265, 308, 324-327, 347

_Orphila, Guillaume de Puig de_, 124

_Orth, Vicomte d'_, 416

_Orthe, Vicomtes d'_, 246

Orthez and Its Château, 28, 186, 308, 325, 335-346, 349

Ossun and Its Château, 300-301


Palada, 138

_Palissy, Bernard_, 51

Pamiers, 53, 181, 186, 196, 197, 199-200

Pamplona, 248, 281, 350, 357, 395, 396, 399, 402-404

Paris, 3, 28, 31, 42, 56, 64, 67, 81, 82, 138, 154, 161, 190, 234, 249,
253, 274, 280, 291, 292, 377, 378, 379, 384, 421, 427

Pas de Roland, 405-406

Pau and Its Château, 2, 3, 8, 9, 24, 39, 42, 46, 47, 60, 61, 64, 66,
111, 121, 163, 186, 232, 233, 245, 252, 258-277, 279, 283, 285, 288,
300, 301, 302, 308, 309, 321, 335, 339, 346, 347, 366, 384, 396, 425

_Pau, Guillem de_, 107

_Paul III_, 302

Pave, 127

Pays-de-Fenouillet, 102

Pays-Entre-Deux-Mers, 9

Peille, Château de, 139

_Pentièvre et de Périgord, Comte de_, 232

_Pépin_, 96

Pérorade, 246

Perpignan, 3, 4, 8, 24, 55, 59, 81, 82, 83, 97, 99, 103, 110-121, 124,
127, 131, 133, 134, 140, 144, 155, 184

Perthus, 136

Peyrehorade, 246, 352

_Philippe III_, 176, 188, 438

_Philippe IV_, 122, 200, 356, 364

_Philippe V_, 364

_Pierre IV of Aragon_, 122

Pierrefonds, 42

Planes, 98, 144

_Poitiers, Diane de_, 229, 416

_Pompey_, 56-57, 222

_Pont, De Carsalade du_, 134-135

Porta, 146

Portalet, 81, 253

Porté, 146, 148

Port Vendres, 54

_Pouvillon, Emil_, 172

Prades, 141, 142

Prats-de-Mollo, 4, 7, 81, 139-140

Privas, 185

Puigcerda, 145-146

Pujols, Tour des, 122-123

_Puré, Abbé de_, 277

Puylaurens, Château de, 24, 155

Pyrénées-Occidentales, 48, 50, 59, 80

Pyrénées-Orientales, 9, 48, 54, 79, 80, 89, 102


Quercy, 13

Queribus, Château de, 104

Quié, Château de, 177

Quillan, 140, 152, 154-158


_Rabedos_, 107, 108

_Rameau, Jean_, 172, 264

_René, King_, 117

_Richelieu_, 103, 181, 189, 214, 345, 433

_Rigaud, Hyacinthe_, 118

Rimont, 214

Rivesaltes, 14, 119, 120

Rodes, Château de, 202

_Rohan, Duc de_, 181, 276

_Roland_, 255, 400-401, 405-406

Ronça, 248

Ronçevaux, 51, 81, 82, 346, 395, 400-403, 405

_Ronsard_, 282, 405

_Rostand, Edmond_, 409-411

Rouen, 28, 249, 366

_Rousseau_, 77

_Roussel_, 327

Roussillon, 1, 8, 9, 14, 16, 28, 55, 56, 77, 78-79, 80, 82, 95-129,
166, 367

Roussillon, Château, 118

_Roussillon, Princes of_, 122, 124, 128

Ruscino and Its Château, 39, 98, 118, 127


Sabart, Notre Dame de, 204-205

_St. Abdon_, 119

St. André, 127

_St. Bernard_, 18

St. Bertrand de Comminges and Its Château, 7, 24, 84, 222-227

_St. Bertrand de l'Isle_, 224-227, 228

St. Colome, 293

St. Étienne-de-Baigorry, 397, 399

_St. Galdric_, 119

St. Gaudens, 52, 222

St. Germain, 42

St. Giles, 56

St. Girons, 184, 212, 213, 214-216, 218, 220

_St. Gregoire_, 224

St. Hilaire, 153-154

_St. Hilaire_, 154

St. Jacques de Compostelle, 295

St.-Jean-de-Luz, 54, 63, 64, 378, 379, 417, 425, 428, 429-434, 447

St. Jean-de-Vergues, 196

St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, 9, 28, 71, 81, 346, 350, 352, 357, 387-388,
393-400, 403, 405, 406

_St. Jerome_, 223

St. Lizier and Its Château, 175, 211, 212, 216-218, 220

St. Martin, Abbey of, 132-135

St. Martin-Lys, 156, 158

St. Palais, 350-352

St. Paul-de-Fenouillet, 102

St. Pé-de-Bigorre, 312-313

St. Sauveur, 70, 321, 322, 323

_St. Sennen_, 119

_Sainte-Marthe, Charles de_, 282

Saintes Maries, 55, 88-89, 204, 205

Salces, 120

Salies de Béarn, 5, 70, 71, 127, 343-344, 421

_Saluste, Guillaume_, 50

San Sebastian, 3, 58, 444, 445

Sarrance, 330-332, 334

Saumur, 15

Sauveterre, 347, 348-350

Saverdun, 197, 198

Selx, 218

_Sergius IV_, 133

_Sertorius_, 222

Seville, 3, 99

_Sigismond_, 124

Somport, 334

_Soult, Maréchal_, 341, 343, 447-448

_Sully_, 272

_Sylvestre, Armand_, 172


Tarascon and Its Château, 177, 202-206, 209

Tarbes and Its Château, 3, 8, 266, 279, 297-300, 301, 302, 321, 331, 350

Tardets, 247, 250, 387

Teillery, Château, 412

_Terès, Jean_, 125

_Thiers, M._, 183

Toulouse, 3, 8, 13, 24, 52, 60, 111, 152, 164, 176, 184, 186, 197, 212,
224

Tours, 117

_Trencavel Family_, 165, 170


Ultrera and Its Château, 39, 127

_Urban VIII_, 397

Urdos, 241-243, 253, 334

Urgel, 149

Urrugne, 434, 441

Ussat, 70


Valbonne, Abbey of, 126

Val Carlos, 400-403

Val d'Aran, 48, 52

Vallespir, 122, 140

_Valois, Marguerite de_, 21, 231, 232, 234-235, 261, 267, 281-282, 302,
369-370

_Vauban_, 7, 116, 136, 139, 140, 142, 345, 346, 347, 414, 431

_Verdaguer, Jacinto_, 133-134

Vernet, 70, 143, 323

Vic-Dessos and Its Château, 177, 206

Villefranche and Its Château, 81, 141-143

Villers-Cotterets, 42

_Viollet-le-Duc_, 41, 162, 167, 443

Vittoria, 64

_Voltaire_, 23


_Weber, Jean_, 409

_Wellington_, 63, 341, 343, 447-448


_Young, Arthur_, 262, 351-352

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

Pot de vinalgre=> Pot de vinaigre {pg 44}

populous and progressve=> populous and progressive {pg 72}

Prats de Mollo=> Prats-de-Mollo {pg 139}

in-invariably=> invariably {pg 154}

balls bounds around with wool=> balls bound around with wool {pg 183}

Mémoires du Philippe de Commine=> Mémoires de Philippe de Commine {pg
229}

St. Jean-Pied-de-Porte=> St. Jean-Pied-de-Port {pg 357}

resembles neiher the country=> resembles neither the country {pg 380}

analagous position=> analogous position {pg 386}

but a step belond=> but a step beyond {pg 445}

Basses-Pyrénêes=> Basses-Pyrénées {pg 450}

St. Jean-Pied-de-Porte=> St. Jean-Pied-de-Port {pg 357}

=> {pg}

=> {pg}

=> {pg}

=> {pg}

=>





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