Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our Local Lake

If we drive about 90 minutes, we come to the Mediterranean. If we amble a kilometre along a country road, we're here, at Lac Montbel. 

Rivers around here are notorious for their violence. (Several centuries ago, the nearby towns of Limoux and Mirepoix were completely washed away.) The river that trickles through Léran may look like a harmless, sparkly little thing on a summer day but a rainstorm transform it. In fact, its name, Le Touyre, is Occitan for "torrent."

Sometime in the 1980s, dams were built and excess water diverted into a valley forming this lake. When the water drops, you can see the stumps of trees that once grew here. No mere pond, the lake is over 500 hectares, and the Tour du Lac, the hiking trail around its perimeter, is about 16 km. Forest-lined, and with the Pyrenees on the horizon, it's a peaceful place to be. 

Sand was trucked in to create a small beach. You can bask in your bikini, swim, take a pedalo out, row a boat, or paddle a kayak. Trout fishing: you can do that too in a leisurely way. To everyone's joy, motorboats are forbidden.

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