Narbonne. The Galamus Gorge, between mysticism and nature

the essential
This summer, discover the Gorges de Galamus and its 14th-century hermitage nestled in the mountains. A unique place in the Haute Vallée de l’Aude, which will not fail to disorient you. Report.

For Murielle, 63, this is the first visit to the 14th-century hermitage of Saint-Antoine de Galamus, perched on the mountainside. However, Murielle doesn’t live very far away. So when asked why she didn’t come before her, her answer is surprising: “Good question. It must have been that I wasn’t ready (psychologically) come to this place. And finally, it worked. I’ve been touched.” Funny answer, one might say. But let me explain where these words come from.

The hermitage of Sant’Antonio di Galamo, a mystical place

The walk starts from the belvedere car park, on the side of the Pyrenees Orientales. Little by little we go down a botanical path, before going up. The smell of figs bathed in the midday sun is overwhelming. After fifteen minutes, I climb the few steps at the foot of the hermitage. This was built by hermits in the 14th century. Their goal was to isolate themselves in the gorges of Galamus. The religious would succeed it until 1930. The moment I walk through the door of the building, time seems to stand still. The song of the cicadas has disappeared. The corridor is plunged into darkness, in contrast to the overwhelming light from outside. There is absolute calm. I walk along the corridor and enter the small dark chapel, set up in a cave. Rows of wooden benches occupy the cavity. The place of prayer is modest. An altar, a cross, a candle holder. Only the statue of Saint-Antoine, dressed in multiple rosaries, seems to occupy the space.

The light escapes from the roof of the chapel, which is made up of a stone wedged between two walls. I’m almost afraid it will fall. “Some are receptive, some are not. Of course the place is magnificent, but when you come back there is something else. I’ve never experienced it”, confides Marie-Claire, 75, a friend of Murielle. The two women leave the chapel towards the hermitage square. A plane tree planted in the center shades the tables and benches in the square. The gift shop sells drinks for food.

The Galamus Gorge, a breathtaking sight

The exit from the hermitage is through a tunnel. Take the stairs to reach the street. Once out of the tunnel, life seems to resume its course. The wind blows, the cicadas sing. The cries of holidaymakers canyoning in the Agly can be heard in the distance. The gorges are accessible on foot. If you want to cross them by car, you will have to wait at the traffic lights at each entrance to the gorges, as the road is too narrow. Traffic alternates from 11am to 6pm and the wait is approximately 13 minutes. The walk in the gorges is breathtaking. Its peculiarity is explained in particular by its depth and height. The walls measure more than 500 meters. The road is narrow, winding, raw.

The waters of the Agly, clear and pure, flow along the gorges. They have their source at Bugarach peak. And finally, the location of the Gorges de Galamus is quite original: they are wedged between two departments, Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales. Therefore, you can enter gorges in one department and exit them in a completely different department. If you go through the Fenouillèdes, the Galamus gorges are a must-see. The change of scenery is guaranteed.

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