August 25, 2014

The madam at Cap Leucat, France: Looking out for pirates from the Barbary Coast

What a landscape - what a history. Cap Leucat originally a 50 meter high cliff island which today has become a penisula. Overlooking the 8km long beach Coussoules that today is a play ground for all kind of activities at sea and land (see below):
The village to the left (in the main photo), La Franqui, was in medieval times a sheltered harbour for attack from pirates, led by the legendaric pirate Barbarossa, who attacked sea travelers along the coast.
Even when the Moors was driven away from the mainland of France in the battle at Poitiers in 732 - they come back as pirates for almost 1.000 years from their bases in North Africa i.e. Algerie, Tunesia, Libya - the Barbery Coast.
They robbed ships not only for valuables but also kidnapped people for ransom or to be sold as slaves in North Africa and the Middle East. In times the life along the coast was so unsafe that only a few fortificated places was inhabited. Along this part of South of France this little village, La Franqui, with the fortified cliff was regarded as a safe heaven. North of here the next fortified place vas Agde, in the south: Collioure and Port-Vendres.
Looking down to the beach - maybe even in medieval times it may have looked in the same way when survivers after a storm was able to reach the coast and the beaches - as a contrast to the sun seekers in our time.
On top of the Cap Leucat we can still see traces of former settlement, small roads, stone fences and more details indicating the life that was up here in old times - also to support the 3 small fortifications placed around the cliff island and their app. 100 solidiers who was there to protect people from the pirates.
For all we know even those old vineyards was in use also in the far past.
Typical landscape at Cap Leucat as we find it today hiking around the small roads and paths.
After the time of the pirates Cap Leucat was a fine location to place a lighthouse - and today it is also a modern naval station up here.

The madam enjoys walking around up here in the interesting culturel landscape on top of Cap Leucat in South of France.

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