Sweeping views. Green vegetation just beginning to turn autumnal colors. High-elevation cattle. Hard-pedaling bicyclists.
The French side of the Pyrenees.
The Spanish side—our route, at least.
Less vegetation, so drier. One major ski town instead of several.
Then we dropped down onto a plateau with very red-orange soils. Where erosion had cut into the surface, the deeper soils were grey-white, and apparently not arable.
Gorgeous skies everywhere. Not sure when I checked that box….
That’s Basque on the right….
Way back in 778, soldiers fought. That part is agreed upon.
The where: generally, a pass in the Pyrenees.
And there’s certainly a bottleneck in the landscape that could spell trouble for an army.
The leader of the besieged northbound forces: Charlemagne, Carlos Magnus—his names vary….
Beyond that, we have multiple interpretations.
On top of that, many modern visitors are religious pilgrims, bound for Santiago de Compostela, hundreds of kilometers to the west. This church is in Roncesvalles, which isn’t really a town, but several hotels, the church, and a community building of some kind (museum?).
The community of Valcarlos, farther north, is well into Basque country, and claim the worst of the massacre happened there. We have a lovely room beneath the roof, in a hotel otherwise empty except for the owner-family. This valley is part of modern Spain, and the territory “pokes up” into France. The next valley west is French, and similarly “pokes down” into Spain. All are Basque, part of Navarre Basse.
Through our skylight, we had a great view of the Valcarlos church tower. And could hear the sound of the bells. In great detail and loudness. Fortunately, they stopped their hourly chiming with the 9PM “concert.”
The view east from our room, if you crane your neck, is of this green green slope, with scattered farm buildings and white “cow dots”—just gorgeous. Our cartographic information indicates that the international border is at the crest of this hill.