National Geographic : 1951 Jul
Me di terr a-mea n 5 Drawn by Harry S. Oliver and Irvin E. Allemana Romantic Languedoc's Borders Are Etched in History and Preserved by Tradition Once Languedoc was a province stretching from the mountainous Velay region almost to the Pyrenees, from Toulouse to the Rhone. Today it has unity mainly in the memory of a common tongue, the langue d'oc (pages 1, 22). Insets show the Gorges du Tarn and France in its entirety. Opposite page: An abandoned meander of the Vis River forms the fantastic Cirque de Navacelles. The new channel runs past a tiny village (center), whose inhabitants till the dry horseshoe bed. Rock contoured by the old channel stands like an oyster's half shell. An aqueduct (lower left) stretches between tunnels. A road zigzags up the canyon wall to the high, arid plateau. Crimean War. Climbing the inside staircase, we emerged where the crown forms a balus trade and saw the marvelous panorama from a new vantage point. In the distance to the northwest stood the Castle of Polignac. Below us was the Ca thedral. Closer to westward, at Espaly, an other volcanic rock formed the plinth for an immense statue of St. Joseph. A few hundred yards from us rose the conical rock of Aiguilhe (Needle) and its little chapel. It was like a dream. Then Mary, her nose buried in a guidebook, suddenly remarked, "I'd hate to climb 268 steps to church." We had barely left Le Puy, on a round about route to Mende, when a flock of sheep and goats halted us. Two tousled dogs, en couraged by a weatherbeaten woman, nipped at the hind legs of the sheep straying all over the road. The goats, more intelligent, hugged the edge, craning their necks away from us. Every mile or so brought similar halts.