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    Charles Rennie Mackintosh Trail in Roussillon: Ille-sur-Têt

    Charles Rennie Mackintosh & Margaret Macdonald

    The Mackintosh Trail in Roussillon, known  in France as ‘Le chemin de Mackintosh’, was inaugurated in Port Vendres in June 2004  in memory of the great Scottish artist. It was created on the initiative of the Mackintosh Association and it is marked all along its way with  panels put on the many different Mackintosh’s painting sites. On one side these panels show reproductions of the paintings and on the other side detailed maps of the area where they are situated. The Mackintosh Association has done a great job!  It’s kind of a treasure hunt to find the places! However, as we were short of time to follow the Mackintosh Trail, we didn’t find all the panels. Moreover, due to drastic changes of weather, we could not take as many pictures as we would have liked. We’ll have to go back there 😉

    Mackintosh Trail journey in Roussillon - Scotiana modified Google map 1 © 2012 Scotiana

    Mackintosh Trail journey in Roussillon – Scotiana modified Google map 1 © 2012 Scotiana

    When we parted with Iain and Margaret at Carcassonne our aim was to arrive not too late in the evening at our gîte at ‘Castell Rose’. The weather was nice then and our journey southward proved to be quite a pleasant one along the A61, the A9 and the N116. On my lap, I was keeping Robin Crichton’s book Monsieur Mackintosh. We had lacked time to prepare our journey and I suddenly realized that it would take much more time than we had planned to complete it. In order to get the best of it, we decided to visit today the places we had intended to see the following day. Soon Mont Canigou appeared in the distance, majestic with its snowy peaks…

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées Orientales Ille-sur Têt The big plane tree © 2012 Scotiana

    Ille-sur Têt The big plane tree © 2012 Scotiana

    We first stopped at Ille-sur-Têt and before going out of the car I read what Robin Crichton had written about the place. Monsieur Mackintosh is not only a very interesting and documented book but also a quite useful one for there are possible itineraries with detailed maps at the end of it.

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées Orientales Ile-sur-Têt Hotel du midi © 2012 Scotiana

    Ile-sur-Têt Hotel du midi © 2012 Scotiana

    ‘They came to Ille-sur-Têt, a little market town in the middle of the plain, where they stayed in the Hôtel du Midi, which was ‘most comfortable. We live the two of us for eight shillings a day, wine included. The food is good and plentiful and the people are simple and kind… The eating room is a delightful feature ‘ (…)

    (Robin Crichton quoting Margaret MacDonald in Monsieur Mackintosh, page 56)

     

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées Orientales Ille-sur-Têt  Mackintosh marker panel Blanc Ontoine painting © 2012 Scotiana

    Ille-sur-Têt Mackintosh marker panel Blanc Ontoine painting © 2012 Scotiana

    ‘Ten minutes or so to the south of the hotel is the mas (farm) of Blanc Ontoine (20).

    (Robin Crichton  Monsieur Mackintosh, page 56)

    Ille-sur-Têt marker panel Blanc-Ontoine Mackintosh watercolour 1925 Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

    Ille-sur-Têt marker panel Blanc-Ontoine Mackintosh watercolour 1925 Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

    ‘The house is still there and although the barn has been converted into a second house, it is recognisable.’

    (Robin Crichton Monsieur Mackintosh, page 61-62)

    We got lost in the midst of orchards before finding the house which served as a model for ‘Blanc-Ontoine’ but the house is now fenced with a high wall …

    The Héré de Mallet  Mackintosh watercolour 1925

    The Héré de Mallet Mackintosh watercolour 1925 Private Collection on loan to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

    ‘They stayed in Ille-sur-Têt until the end of May and three paintings survive. One is The Héré de mallet (21) – part of a strange geological rock formation just outside the town known as Les Orgues. The rock is an alluvial deposit of sand and clay which was pushed upwards when the Pyrénées were formed. The soft alluvial rock includes elements of harder stones, which erode less quickly and become isolated on top of high columns. Hence their name – ‘organ pipes.’ Sometimes they are also called ‘fairy chimneys.’

    (Robin Crichton Monsieur Mackintosh page 60-61)

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées-Orientales IIlle-sur-Têt The Héré de Mallet © 2012 Scotiana

    IIlle-sur-Têt The Héré de Mallet © 2012 Scotiana

    ‘Mackintosh chose a position on the town side of the river which was only about a ten minute walk from the hotel, although the formations are even more remarkable if you go a little further and take the road to Mont Alba, to view them from the north side.’

    (Robin Crichton Monsieur Mackintosh,page 60-61)

    Of course we wanted to see the other view mentioned par Robin Crichton 😉 so we drove on to the site.

     

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées-Orientales Ille-sur-Têt chemin des Orgues dinosaur sculpture © 2012 Scotiana

    Ille-sur-Têt chemin des Orgues dinosaur sculpture © 2012 Scotiana

    The centre was closed but we decided to follow the quiet wooded path which led to the site. It was  lined with amazing iron sculptures: a dinosaur, a peacock, an eagle and different kinds of birds, an astonishing spider…

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées-Orientales Ille-sur-Têt Chemin des Orgues notice board © 2012 Scotiana

    Ille-sur-Têt Chemin des Orgues notice board © 2012 Scotiana

    at one moment we  passed in front of a notice board which didn’t lack humour;-)

    Ile sur Tet Les Orgues Nini © 2012 Scotiana

    Ile sur Tet Les Orgues Nini © 2012 Scotiana

    Nini, a kind and beautiful horse came and welcomed us 😉

    So we walked on…

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées-Orientales Illes-sur-Têt Les Orgues   © 2012 Scotiana

    Illes-sur-Têt Les Orgues © 2012 Scotiana

    We suddenly found ourselves in front of spectacular and very impressive landscape. It was well worth the detour !!!

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées-Orientales Ille-sur-Têt Les Orgues 'stone giants'  © 2012 Scotiana

    Ille-sur-Têt Les Orgues ‘stone giants’ © 2012 Scotiana

    In the now deserted place we felt as if we were surrounded by stone giants…

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées-Orientales Ille-sur-Têt Les Orgues 'stone giants'  © 2012 Scotiana

    Ille-sur-Têt Les Orgues ‘stone giants’ © 2012 Scotiana

    As it was getting late we didn’t linger there much longer…

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées-Orientales Ille-sur-Têt A cat in a tree 'Le gardien des lieux'  © 2012 Scotiana

    Ille-sur-Têt ‘Le gardien des lieux’ © 2012 Scotiana

    Miaow ! The ‘gardien des lieux’ was watching us out of the corner of his feline eye…

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées-Orientales Ille-sur-Têt D2 road sign © 2012 Scotiana

    Ille-sur-Têt road sign © 2012 Scotiana

    Bye bye Ille-sur-Têt, a very beautiful place and a favourite of the Mackintoshes…

    France Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées-Orientales Ille-sur-Têt by night © 2012 Scotiana

    Ille-sur-Têt by night © 2012 Scotiana

    Here’s our last view of the town, from the road, with the nice church standing out against the evening sky…

     

    Mont Canigou Roussillon France © 2012 Scotiana

    Mont Canigou Roussillon France © 2012 Scotiana

     

    When we finally arrived to Castell Rose it was dark. The  charming lady who is the owner of the place welcomed us very cheerfully and led us to our room which was no less than a little suite facing the majestic Mont Canigou…  but we had arrived too late for admiring the rosy colours of the sunset on its snowy peaks…

    In the morning, after a good breakfast (offering different kinds of French bread, croissants, butter and home-made jam, local salami…) we would be ready to follow on our road eastward and then southward to Port Vendres and Collioure. So if you want to know what we discovered there don’t miss the next episode of our journey along the Mackintosh Trail…

    Bonne lecture! A bientôt.

    Mairiuna

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    1 comment to Charles Rennie Mackintosh Trail in Roussillon: Ille-sur-Têt

    • Iris B

      Wonderful impressions – and great to see works of Monsieur Mackintosh, I have not known previously – hope to visit Ille-sur-Tet myself soon.
      Many thanks for this fantastic insight and stunning pictures and scenery!
      Best wishes
      Iris
      (Cahors)

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