Le Cengle Mountain Glory
I have written about the mountains of St. Hippolyte du Fort in a previous blog, but majestic Le Cengle calls us to take another look.
Like a sentinel, this mountain soars above the northern side of my little town. Rising high above us, the limestone cliffs and cragged ridges create a dramatic backdrop, a feast for the eyes.
Dotted with caves that have hidden Huguenot fighters, the Camisards, and most likely many others, this mountain ignites my imagination. Who else hid up there and why?
The Cévennes region has always been a place of refuge, whether avoiding obligatory work service for the enemy’s war machine during WW2 or escaping King Louis XIV’s dragoon soldiers. Stories also abound of young people's adventures up on Le Cengle mountain and in its caves. One of the main events in my upcoming book, Though Darkness Descends, took place on this mountain. When the Huguenots of St. Hippolyte heard the King had sent 1200 dragoons to suppress them, they packed up and moved to Le Cengle. Low limestone rock walls line the mountain, creating terraces for agricultural purposes, as done throughout the region. The Huguenots camped out there for 3 days in a stand of passive resistance, calling themselves “Le camp de l’Eternal,” or the Lord’s Army. Their only crime was following a different religion than the King, to whom they remained loyal. I can see the remains of these walls and terraces today from my home across field and river. It’s hard to imagine how they fit across these narrow, steep ledges, but apparently they did.
The terraces start left of the vertical wall in the middle of photo
I’ve yet to go up to these terraces. Today, they’re all behind the private homes of people I don’t yet know. One day, I will get up there and I’ll be sure to post photos when I do. It’s interesting to note that these terraces have a strategic view of the Route de Lasalle, down which the dragoons would arrive. While the majority of the Huguenots advocated passive resistance, standing for their legal right to worship, a small faction took up arms. You’ll have to read my book to get the rest of the story.
Photo taken from Route de Lasalle, the "Invaders' Route" This limestone giant is so grand, we can see it from every part of our little town. I love seeing the differing perspectives, how the view changes depending on where you’re standing.
From my backyard
From my bedroom window
From the front of the Château de Planque
From across the vineyards on the south side of town
Le Cengle also serves as a palette of sorts, changing colors and hues in tune with the rising and the setting of the sun. I never tire of observing the spectacular display, as the master Creator splashes corals, oranges or midnight blues across the mountain.
I wouldn’t describe the mountain as dominating our town as that sounds too ominous. For me, it’s a comforting and beautiful presence. One that causes me to lift my eyes upward, a call to a higher, broader perspective. This mountain also serves as a constant reminder of where my help comes from––the Creator of heaven and earth, as described in Psalm 121. Did I mention the enormous royal (or golden) eagles that soar next to the heights? A friend hiking on the mountain witnessed one up close and estimated the wing span to be 6 feet wide. Wow! Oh my goodness, they are spectacular, even from where I stand far below. They, too, remind me to breathe deep, to take the long view. And what about this promise from Isaiah 40:31:
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
La vie est belle!