Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/188

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CHAPTER X

THE LAVEDAN


Pic de Gers—Argelez—Vieuzac—The Balandrau—Intermittent spring—Cave of Ouzous—Devantaïgue—Beaucens—Val d'Azun—Fortresses—Arras—Aucun—Lake—Arreins—Puy-al-Hun—Commissioners scared from it—Garrison frightened away—Queen Hortense—A miscalculation—Saint Savin—The Voisins—Palatium Æmilianum—Church—Paintings—S. Orens—Disorderly monks—Pierrefite—Ravine—Peasantry.


A FUNICULAR railway takes a visitor to the top of the Pic de Gers, whence he can obtain, a fine comprehensive panorama of the mountains. A cross surmounts the peak that is illuminated at night.

On quitting Lourdes to ascend the Valley of Argelez the mountain sides are seen to be bare, having been denuded of their trees by the ruthless axe of the peasant. Presently the train passes a mound on which stands a solitary tower called after the Black Prince, who is held to have ordered its construction to watch the upper portion of the valley. Then the basin of Argelez opens up, with villages and culture, vines, chestnuts, walnuts, running high up the sides of the mountains, mainly on the right bank of the Gave, and maize in the plain standing up as high as a man, or in the season sheets of forget-me-not-blue waving flax, alternating with crimson stretches of the Trifolium incarnatum. On the rubbly slopes the glistening box flourishes luxuriantly. Argelez is a delightful resort in spring and summer. It has its bathing establishment, to