The Sidobre

North of the Montagne Noire, in the Tarn region (Midi Pyrénées), lies a mysterious area which is called the Sidobre. Here we find strange stone formations such as the so called trembling stones (Roches Tremblantes). The area is so old, that the first human being who set foot on this strange landscape, thought the place was sacred. Soon, the rocks were given names. Today it is a tourist attraction, complete with visitor centre, walks and car roundtrips. The routes are clearly signposted.

But how did this extraordinary landscape came into existence? For this we must travel back millions of years into time. About 300 million years ago molten magma produced from the rocks in fusion was trapped about 10 km below ground under a huge mountain (Heveynian Range). Eventually, the magma cooled producing a crystalline rock called Granite which is made up of 3 minerals: Mica, Quartz and Feldspar. Then the congealed magma clump underwent intense weathering in the damp tropical climate of the Tertiary period which followed. This made the clumps crack into pieces which lied snugly in the sediments, which enabled the rocks to lie on each other in the most strange positions. Then erosion in the later Quatrain period took the sediments away and the stones surfaced. This created the bizarre trembling stones which balance on a much smaller rock underneath. The extraordinarily shaped rocks that one can see in the Sidobre, such as le Roc de l'Oie, La Peyro Clabado, Le Saut de la Truite, Les Trois Fromages etc., have been created by the constant flow of water eroding the rock. The principle industry in the area is quarrying the stone which is then used to make gravestones. Characteristic of the area are the fields of rounded boulders which lie everywhere. There are several souvenir shops which sell granite but also many other different stones which are handcrafted into nice souvenirs.

When you decide to visit the Sidobre, then go to the visitor centre (Maison du Sidobre) first and plan your roundtrip from the information you get there. There are some beautiful walks, e.g. the one you make at Chaos de la Balme.

Walking through the area is as if you are back in prehistory. Apart from the stone formations and landscapes, there are several lovely little towns you can visit. The area is very small, and discovering 'as you go' is also possible.