la pompe et le lac
October 9, 2011
In Chalabre, in the commune of Aude (named after the river), in the region Languedoc- Roussillion, the boulangerie looks quite distinguée – if a building can be described as such. It’s lunchtime so all the shops and businesses are shut – all except the eateries. Just in front of the boulangerie at the road side there’s a tall plinth topped with a vase.
The plinth houses a tap now but was the point of issue for the water from the town pump. A little history – In 1821, the town of Chalabre decided to dig a well in the centre of the town to commemorate the birth of the son of the Duc de Berry. A celebration was held too, following a mass, food and wine was distributed to the townsfolk followed by a ‘bal’ at which 1250 kgs. of sugared almonds were tossed around. In 1830, a pump was fitted to the well engineered by ‘pompiste’ Jean-Ann Legrange at a cost of 1763 francs. Carrying on the same theme at a few kilometres down the road is a reservoir ‘Lac Montbel’ that sits between two dams engineered 150 years after the ‘pompe royale’.
The thick sticky clay marl holds the water. When the level is low, the clay sucks you in on entering the water but soon forgotten as swimming in the turquoise water is very refreshing – as you float the Pyrenees appear to float too, in the distance.
Versez du sang ! frappez encore !
Plus vous retranchez ses rameaux,
Plus le tronc sacré voit éclore
Ses rejetons toujours nouveaux !
Est-ce un dieu qui trompe le crime ?
Toujours d’une auguste victime
Le sang est fertile en vengeur !
Toujours échappé d’Athalie
Quelque enfant que le fer oublie
Grandit à l’ombre du Seigneur ! Alphonse de Lamartine La naissance du duc de Bordeaux