Les Pierres Jaumâtres
by Dave • Fri 15 Nov 2019 10:33
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.
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.
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.
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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