Pont Noir

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Les Pierres Jaumâtres
by Dave • Fri 15 Nov 2019 10:33
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Les Pierres Jaumâtres near Toulx-Sainte-Croix (591m). « They’re awesome! » said a young American girl who was cantering about on them during one of our visits. The view was also awesome, and her shoes, her lunch and for all I know everything she’d ever seen. Coolio. She’s not wrong though, these rock formations are awesome. If fact I’d go so far as to say that they are Awesome Sauce.

Right, that’s that done. Next. Hahaha. Whoa, hold hard there cowboy. Just joking. There’s more to life than sauce.

This is the very first place in Creuse that we took visitors. It’s so long ago that I forget the when and the who but everyone we take there likes it. It was in the late summer, warm and dry with a cool breeze and as usual we had the rocks pretty much to ourselves.

That was our second visit to the site. It was one of the few tourist sites that was being advertised that was a) not Guéret based and b) not hours away. It’s another one of those places that’s not well sign-posted and it seemed like someone was having a jolly time pointing the few signs that there were vaguely in the direction of each other. So the first time we did a few little circuits, made the odd u-turn and generally got right royally lost in what seemed like a maze of little roads and hameaux that dot the area. Just as we were about to head off in a huff we find it. It wasn’t much in those days, just a small parking area and a garden shed.

In the shed is a young girl selling tickets, which we get and start the walk up the path stopping a few hundred yards in to watch the goats that were (at the time) living a joyful life in a large pen just to one side of the track. Luckily, we’d turned up with excellent timing to watch the goat Olympic decathlon finals. There was a fine spread of competitors all jumping, skipping, running, climbing, falling and butting. Er, well, perhaps those engaged in the later weren’t exactly in the spirit of the thing but I expect the goats had a more ancient Greek outlook that of the modern games. Anyway, they were having a riotous fling. And then they weren’t. They didn’t go in for medals nor laps of honour nor selfies with HM the Goat. No, just stopping suddenly and finding a cool spot in the shade. We walk on.

NB: The girl and the shed. No not an obscure Ibsen play but a somewhat less bleak sidebar. We’ve been many times since (although not often in-season) and whilst the shed has remained a constant, even after the car park enlargement and the building of a huge wooden, er, building, the construction of stone steps in what seems like the wrong place and the setting up of some kind of tree-top adventure course for the younger crowd. The girl has never been seen again. Ah, we aren’t in Saint Mary Mead you understand and I expect that she was and is still seen regularly, even perhaps unknowingly by me, but - and this is the important thing - not in the shed. It’s always remained shut and thus entry has been free, as I guess it is if you travel up by one of the other many paths.
The pathway is a marvel of effort and path laying from local stones. It’s wide, was once level and had little walls either side. It is now an advanced test of your balance, nimbleness of foot and the strength of the ankle protection offered by your boots. If rocky rubble could be strewn about amongst wretched roots more dangerously in a line then they should use it to defend the borders. I suppose, being philosophical about it, if you can’t make it up the path in one piece then these rocks aren’t going to be your friends; it saves SAMU a bunch of time if they only have to go halfway up to rescue you and your legs.

Eventually you’ll see the three big rocks that are sort of guardians to the site. These are some very photogenic rock lumps. They don’t appear to be named, except as an ensemble cast of hundreds. The Guardians deserve a name though. Walk up and past them; or even climb up over them if you like, but it’s much easier to walk round even if you want to go on top.

You’re now pretty much at the summit of Mont Barlot as this fine hill is known and have an immediate view of the main pack. With a few off to one side in front of the view and some more at the back. Head to the side if you aren’t up to climbing over balancing bottom shaped boulders or walking the ridge backed rock which looks like a Spinosaurus asleep in the mud. The view is good and there are a bunch of well-worn shallow-curved ground-level granite bumps that you can walk over and touch with only a fraction of the risk. Although people have been climbing the larger ones for quite a long while.
Years before even the first version of Pont Noir. Yes, this is an evolution of the second attempt. Version 1.0 was very bad indeed. So bad in fact it was hacked regularly and defaced by Chinese bandits offended by its horribleness. That’s a somewhat romantic take but It was dreadful. The platform was utterly insecure and I wasn’t yet the web-coding super-genius that you all know and love. Hahaha. Anyway, we had less than ten members (excluding the Chinese dudes who added their own content which I suspect was not about Creuse). I gave up and deleted the lot. Fortunately, I tried again with something more secure. If any of you were members of that first site I’m sorry - or perhaps 对不起。is more appropriate. Hey Ho, moving on.

Where was I? Oh yes, years ago, I used to post a fair bit on another forum. It was run by one of the big estate agency places which covered the whole of France - both are now long gone. They started a photo competition with a section for each department. I entered with an image from Les Pierres Jaumâtres entitled Butt-Crack Rock, the only photo for Creuse. This got a lot of votes and comments, but after a few days was suddenly moved to a new and obscure section for amusing photos. Grr.
In our house Les Pierres Jaumâtres are known as Butt-Crack rock and friends. Well, okay, just as Butt-Crack Rock and I expect that it’s only really me that calls them that. There is a big boulder in the shape of a large naked bottom, complete with an anatomically correct crack. Hence the name. I know that it isn’t actually a large stony butt. Well I hope it isn’t the denuded rear of a sleeping rock-giant, because I’ve danced jubilantly on his, or her, well-rounded bum-cheeks many times. Toeing a mental cèilidh on a recumbent giant might be the stuff of legend but I expect giants find that as irritating as anyone else. No one wants to stand alone as a giant irritant.

Ah well, it’s a good crack. As an Irishman did once say to me. Not about these rocks or I doubt any rocks. TBH it was at a party in a stranger’s London flat with free beer. It might have been about anything. Still, it’s fitting now. Because it is a jolly good crack: Jumping, hopping, climbing and sitting on some tremendously nice and rarely fashioned rocks of note, even if more consideration of the name is required.

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Aug 2004
Re: Les Pierres Jaumâtres
by Creusebear • Sun 17 Nov 2019 17:58
It is such a special place - your post has reminded me that it has been an age since we have been there. One for when the weather gets a little warmer!
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May 2007
Re: Les Pierres Jaumâtres
by charlie • Sun 17 Nov 2019 20:41
We were told about this site a few years ago as a place worth visiting with our dog. He and we love it and it is included in our special trips for ourselves and visitors. The big ones are quite difficult for me to lift on my own! We usually visit the chateau at Bousac on the same trip with lunch in the central square.
Dec 2004
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