|The number of dolmens around here defies belief! And although many of them are largely trashed (nice work for a completist) we concentrated what little time we had on seeking out the more spectacular and complete monuments. In Jane-speak, that means dolmens with capstones!
Outside the village of St Alban Auriolles, if you climb up the hill at the back of the village towards an old chapel is the dolmen du Calvaire. A walk over the limestone outcrops towards it – the same limestone which the dolmen is built from – gives the impression that the dolmen spontaneously, and quite naturally, appears from the ground.
Inside the lovely chamber was a visitors book and I was quite surprised to see how many people had visited it quite recently. But then it is signposted from the village. The dolmen itself is a classic stone box: two stones each side, one at the back and one on top. Simple and perfect.
Just outside St Alban village, east of Chandolas, at the top of a steep outcrop overlooking vineyards and a dry river valley (which reminded me a lot of Namibia) is the Dolmen du Ranc d'Aven No 1.
It's a short but very steep climb up a path (follow the brown painted marks on the rocks) through grassy, low scrubby bushes to the hilltop. Even though the dolmen isn't in perfect condition, and the climb is steep, it's well worth the hike simply to see this monument in its commanding position. It once had two capstones, but one has fallen inwards and the other fallen back. Its sides and back are still in position. It's been a bit carelessly restored with some ugly cement here and there, and in one side is a curious hole, probably a result of breakages over time than an original feature.
In the dry river bed below us we could see a couple of tumuluses one of which had a damaged dolmen poking out of it which Moth later went to look at, but the rough ground and spiky bushes deterred be-sandalled and bare-legged moi.
Earthly paradise at Font Mejanne
At Font Mejanne, near St Alban, up a twisty turny hillside road, which follows the river Bourbouillet is a magical little limestone valley. It would be a beautiful place indeed to hang out even without the addition of the three wonderful dolmens which grace it, like fat, ripe sweet cherries on the most tempting of cakes.
Ah Font Mejanne! Drive up that twisty turny road slowly so that when you get a certain point (you'll know when!) you'll be able to see all three dolmens at once lying on limestone terraces to the east of the riverbed.
Dolmen du Font Mejanne no 1 and Dolmen du Font Mejanne no 2 are closest to the road and about 20 metres apart.
Dolmen du Font Mejanne no 3 is about 50 ms up from dolmen 2. All three are in wonderful condition and utterly gorgeous.
Dolmen 4 is across the valley on the other side of the road and badly trashed, we read, so we didn't bother looking for it. We thought we'd stay in the little piece of heaven for as long as possible.
The river was mostly dry, except for a few shaded pools and billabongs, left among the shaded limestone terraces. Without exception they were inhabited by hundreds of pretty frogs which were a delight to watch.
As you walked pas a pool, they all dived in, looking for cover among the algae, resulting in multiple amusing 'plops'.
The insect life was as spectacular:
The valley and riverbed here is a natural wonder as well as a megalithic stunner.
Unmissable. Absolutely unmissable.
Posted by Jane
27th September 2007ce
Edited 28th September 2007ce
Jane's TMA Blog
1-10 of 108 Posts |