Painting in the Midi-Pyrenees – The landscape.
The area I have explored so far, mainly from Foix in the west to Carcassonne in the East and down to Quillan and beyond in the south east. The landscape moves from rolling hills with small villages and patchwork fields, vineyards and pastures, to the more rugged and forested Midi-Pyrenees. The landscape in this area is characterized by limestone formations that have been thrust up by long ago forces. The mountains are typically long slopes on one side and sheer escarpment on the other. The valleys can be deep and at times mainly good for pasturage only. Others are wider and feature small farms and hamlets with small patchwork fields. Narrow winding roads provide access and a sense of adventure and opportunity for discovery. Meadows full of flowers abound in variety and location. Many pastures feature cattle, sheep and horses grazing. Mules and burros are also common.
As limestone is common, the hills have many caves, some prehistoric where cave paintings can be seen and others that might offer tours by Speleologists. Limestone is also a favoured building stone and many houses, walls and other structures are made with it. Limestone weathers and structures show interesting changes over time.
As one travels southerly towards Quillan and towards Perpigan on the coast, one drops down into deep valleys and truly spectacular gorges where sheer rock walls rise above you. On that route, after the gorges, the mountains are rockier and the land more arid.