In 10 days time the world…………probably won’t end. Or is that just our modern cynicism? Maybe it will actually end. The question is – where to head for a short, Armageddon themed weekend if and when the curtain finally comes down on our fleeting, insignificant lives?
Steering clear of philosophical questions like what the end of the world means – are we talking universe, solar system, planet, human race or Justin Bieber dying in a freak waxing accident, let’s have a little look at our options.
Let us assume that the Mayans didn’t just jack in the whole astronomy lark when they hit the winter solstice 2012 and sloped off down the pub. Let us assume that despite the various interpretations of what significance they actually ascribed to this period (energy shifts and movement in magnetic fields anyone?), we are in fact talking out and out Doomesday, is there anywhere we might survive the impending apocalypse?
Well Bugarach apparently. The sleepy hamlet in the Pyrenees – population 176 - is now being described by CNN as "the doomsday destination". According to a prophecy that possibly began in the hallowed vaults of Twitter, an ancient Mayan calendar has predicted that Bugarach will be the only place to survive.
South Western France has a funny habit of turning up unexpectedly in suspect ancient tales. Who can forget the Holy Blood Holy Grail theory (the book ‘borrowed from’ by Dan Brown for The Da Vinci Code) which posited that Mary Magdalene pitched up down the road to start the Merovignian kings off as the direct descendants of Jesus?
The Mayans too apparently were quite keen on the area – perhaps for the climate – and possibly the local drop of wine, but there is a strange geological phenomenon at Bugarach that has given the story legs. Towering above the village is the mysterious “upside down mountain" whose lower layers of rock are somehow younger than those at the top. Buried beneath it is a labyrinthine array of caves that has drawn a steady stream of attention from UFO hunters who seem to see it as a sort of Watford Gap services for extraterrestrials.
So the esoteric is alive and well in Bugarach. But will the anticipated exodus to the village really materialise or is it just silly season on Mayan Apocalypse stories? Either way – the small village is certainly on the map now – for better or for worse. Fancy a visit?