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the proud trees and soft meadows of Cauterets, set in a frame of beautiful hills.
Where can a more varied concourse of visitors be found than at this remote watering place? By the side of the sedan of a Parisian petitemaitresse, whose exquisite morning dress has never been disturbed by the rough chances of an omnibus journey, ride two black-eyed Bordelaises. Like bold amazons, they gallop along the dusty road to Mahourat, but both seat and the management of their steeds, show that their horsemanship dates only from their arrival here! Next strides along, with proud self-complacency, a sunburnt Aragonian peasant. Spanish grandiosity speaks out in every motion, out of the manner in which he holds his head, out of every fold of his ample cloak. On the track of blasées Russian princesses, follows the laughter-loving Bearnese, her fresh-coloured cheeks heightened by the splendour of her never-failing “capulet."* Here a gracious lady who has outbloomed her springtime, and who is modestly seated on an ass, is suddenly forced to the wall by the rapid cabriolet of a beau from Tarbes, and there is a Parisian dandy, who must give place to a company of Spanish contrabandistas. French bonnes with their blonde children ; Capuchin friars, muttering over their breviaries ; sisters of mercy, actresses, and decorated nobles—what extreme is not to be found upon this road to Raillière ? And among all these the omnibus continues its way, to increase, by its no less heterogeneous freight, that already many-coloured
The bath-house, a long parallelogram is built on a terrace 90 metres in extent, which overlooks the opening of the valley Lutour. From the terrace you enter a fine covered gallery, lighted by large windows, in the centre of which stands the Burette, where the ticket belonging to each visitor commands a glass of the water. On each side of the Burette-hall are twenty-three bath-rooms, all furnished with beautiful marble baths, and on the door of each of these cabinets, hangs a card, with the names of the bathers to whom they are appropriated, and the hour assigned to each.
The demand for these baths is so great that, unless this strict military order was punctually attended to, all could scarcely be supplied. From May i to November 1 Raillière is open to the public, but the foreign guests come only in the hot summer months. At that period, about 260 baths are served daily, and in the course of the season, about 30,000.
This, and the other bathing places belonging to the Valley of St. Savin, bring in a revenue of 60,000 francs.
I can give no professional opinion of the contents and virtues of the * A woollen cape peculiar to the Bearnese women. It covers the neck and stands out a little before the face, to which its bright scarlet colour imparts a very pretty tinge.
waters of Cauterets and can only say generally, that they are used for lameness, rheumatism, and diseases of the lungs, and that their temperature is from 31 to 40 degrees, Reaumur.
Not less frequented than the terrace at Raillière, is the gallery within the building. Of hundreds of visitors who crowd the Burette, some drink, some only look on, some promenade the long room and converse, and on a double row of chairs, ladies sit reading, or working, or talking, politicians disputing, children playing, and peasant women knitting. Some are waiting for their bath, some for the omnibus, and others until they have cooled down after bathing, to a temperature at which they may venture out into the air again. The Pyrenean sky may, in general, class with that of southern Italy, but these high mountain regions are often wrapped in mist, which only exceptionally gives way before the sun's rays; and but for my own experience, I would scarcely credit the assertion of the medical men, that the most remarkable cures have been effected in the most foggy weather ; for the degree to which the waters of Raillière heat the body, must appear to the ignorant too high not, even with the greatest precaution, to endanger the patients in coming into contact with the cold here prevailing.
Opposite the entrance of the gallery stands a long pavilion, specially devoted to those who use the water as a gargle ; from it one is glad to hurry away, so uninviting are the sounds and scene.
A larger and more interesting building stands near the Raillière ; a kind of stable for the four-footed bathers which the stud-house at Tarbes sends thither every year. Many of these fine animals were there during my first visit, and I experienced a sort of childish delight whenever I saw them going to the Raillière forming a most appropriate ornament to these romantic mountain roads.
One silver-white Arabian, although, as they told me, thirty years old, had all the activity and frolic of a foal, took my fancy particularly. His bright eyes actually sparkled with fire, and had I been called on to give him a name, I should have chosen that of “ Demoniac.” I mentioned this to one of the grooms, who seemed to think it so appropriate that he assured me he should call him so in future. It was astonishing to see how these animals enjoyed the sulphurated waters, although the visitor never can take them without a mixture of some syrup.
You do not, however, fulfil the whole of your duty to Hygeia by a visit to Raillière, for either before or after your bath there, you must taste the higher spring at Marcadan, called Manhourat, whose waters are cooler and much more palatable.' According to your means of transport and your powers of endurance, the steep path which leads to this spring is climbed in fifteen to thirty minutes.
When a cloudless sky stretches its deep blue canopy over the lofty mountain tops ; when a resplendent sun casts its reflex on the snow which lies in their chinks and hollows, making the shadow of the dark firs still darker ; when his intercepted rays here form an iris-bow among the spray of the Gave, and there fall direct on its clear waters, illumining the depths of its trout-producing stream; when the glow of his beams warms the thin sharp air of the mountain, and Mauhourat teems with the pleasant scent of the pine trees; when the blackbird, in his isolated bush, and the lark, as he careers in airy circles above your head, sing their morning songs ; when the shot of the distant chamois hunter echoes from rock to rock, and falls fainter and fainter on the ear; when the solitary herdsman's love ditty is heard from the green meadow, and the troops of health-seeking visitors enliven the paths of the mountain ; then, indeed, is the walk to Manhourat delightful, and no one could fail to enjoy its beauties.
But still more deeply impressed on my memory is the picture which this sublime scenery presented, one dull morning, to my view. A threatening storm had hurried away homewards the assembled visitors, and the previously crowded roads were entirely deserted. A thick mist concealed the tops of the mountains ; gradually it sunk below me, and I could not see where my next step was to fall; and then it became attenuated to a thin film, through which I could discern the dark groups of fir trees, the white waters of the Gave, and even the valley and the faint outlines of the Bridge of Barquez.
What an Ossianic picture! I fancied I must be in legendary Scandinavia, where the "thistle of Lora" flourishes, where roar the dark waves of the Bay of Utherne, where Starne took counsel with the ghost of Loda, when Fingal, the fearful foe approached, and not on the confines of smiling Spain.
Scarcely had I crossed the little wooden bridge over the Gave at Marcadan, when a report like that of a hundred guns arrested my steps. No lightning had pierced the thick fog; it was no thunder-clap which had struck my ear. Presently a still louder report was heard, and the fog seemed to thicken ; I felt myself suddenly flung to the ground by a violent blow, and when the fog again rose, I saw that I was surrounded by large and small blocks of granite.
It was indeed a wonder that I was uninjured, for an avalanche of rocks had rolled down, the outermost débris of which had reached my feet.
A short distance from the Bridge of Barquez and a little higher up, there is another bathing establishment which, as the water is very nearly the same as at Luz, is called Le petit Saint Sauveur. The spring was discovered in 1805, and in 1818 this building, containing tèn baths, was erected.
Not far onwards, on the same side of the Gave, overshadowed by a splendid group of firs and alders and surrounded by rocks clothed
with moss and lichens, is the bath called Le Pré. It is chiefly frequented by Spanish peasants, who cross the mountains yearly in great numbers to perform what they call “Noveria.” As soon as they have cured themselves by a course of warm bathing, they drink for nine successive days six or eight glasses of Mauhourat water, and morning and evening they take a bath at Pré, remaining in it half an hour at its natural temperature of 47° centrigrade. On coming out of this bath, they envelope themselves in a thick woollen covering, in order to assist the process of perspiration, and this they carry to such an excess, that not unfrequently the ground becomes moistened. After this they dress, and wrapping themselves up in large cloaks, go to their dwellings.
Beyond the little spot where Le Pré is situated, the pass narrows, and only affords space for a small path, the climbing up which on foot is very fatiguing. Here I was much amused by a beggar, who sat there to levy contributions on the visitors, and who, instead of the usual terms of solicitation, cried out, as the poor tired walkers came along, “ Courage ! courage ! que Dieu vous donne courage et force !”
The point at which the Mauhourat spring issues from the mountain is, as its name implies, only a cleft opening into the Gave; and whenever its waters are swollen, this cleft is filled and becomes impassable. At such times it can only be passed by means of planks laid across it, which mode of transit is not unattended with the danger of falling into the Gave. There is a pretty grotto, where some very welcome seats await the weary visitor, hewn out of the rock at the back of which the spring wells out. The Source des Jeux is another rill of water which falls from the rock of the Grotto of Mouhourat, and leaves a copious sediment of organic matter.
A little further on is the not yet established spring Des Eufs, so called either because it has a strong smell of rotten eggs, or because its very high temperature may be hot enough to boil an egg. It is said that a scheme exists for joining these springs by means of an aqueduct, to the valley of La Raillierè, and thus establish an important bathing-place.
These baths have but very recently afforded the visitors a convenience which was much needed in their primitive condition, the means of living at the baths, a very great relief for those to whom weak health made the daily transit from Cauterets a serious matter. Still, as exercise is a necessary accompaniment to taking the waters of the baths Des Bois, the doctors all insist on either walking, riding, or, at least, a chaise à porteur, when the weather permits.
I will now endeavour to place before the reader a picture of one of these baths at the present time.
The Pyrenean baths with which I am myself acquainted, are Bareges, St. Sauveur, Luz, and Bagnéres de Bigorre. Cauterets, however, seems to me to hold the highest rank of all, from its agreeable character as a place, as well as from the grandeur of the scenery by which it is surrounded
Although it lies 3,254 feet above the level of the sea, and in an amphitheatre of mountains the tops of which are partly covered with pines, and partly bare, the views around are by no means gloomy. The houses are handsome and well built. Before every window is an elegant iron balcony. Every door has an architrave of grey marble, and below every dwelling is a tastily-arranged shop, where some kind of Pyrenean product or manufacture may be purchased. For instance, here is one containing a collection of beautiful marbles, prettily worked ; there another filled with articles made of fine Bearnese linen; not far off are specimens of woollen stuffs, table covers, caps, and of all sorts of clothing of materials which cannot be inspected without exciting admiration. There are also milliners' shops and art magazines, booksellers, confectioners, &c., and all that can supply the wants, or tempt the taste, of those who come to spend their money.
Along every foot-pavement runs a little rill of clear water, of which the shopkeepers make plentiful use to besprinkle the roads, so that dusty streets are almost unknown. There are about 200 houses and 1,300 inhabitants; but this last number is, of course, greatly increased, certainly doubled and sometimes trebled during the bathing season. The principal resort of the visitors is the High Street, the extent of which promenade is so limited, that it gives one the impression more of a hall than a street. At every different time of the day it presents a different appearance. From early morning to breakfast-time, it is full of walkers, and riders on horseback and in carriages, on their way to the springs. The young mountaineer with his capacious basket, in which, perhaps, is a half-fledged eagle, a litter of Pyrenean sheep-dog puppies, a squirrel or two, a marten, or other scarce animal that he has trapped in the higher regions; the bold contrabandista in his picturesque costume, laden with his stock of poulards, chocolate, coloured coverings, and peculiar shaped knives; the pastry-cook in his clean white suit, with an enormous dish of hot pastry ; the flower-girls and the cheesesellers; the busy horsekeeper; the donkey drivers; the chairmen; in fact, all that can possibly be wanted for the convenience or the requirements of the guests, are here assembled from the first dawn of day.
At ten o'clock a tremendous bell-ringing from every quarter gives the signal for an entire change of scene.
All those who have bathed, and drunk, and gargled, suddenly hide themselves in their respective dwellings. During this holiday breakfasthour nobody is to be seen in the street but good-looking well-clad bonnes, hurrying along with rapid strides, each carrying a large basket