For rent: a front-row view of the Apocalypse

A front-row view of the Apocalypse

Bugarach, a tiny farming village in the southwest of France, sits at the foot of Pic de Bugarach — the highest mountain in the Corbières wine-growing area. In many ways it is the quintessential French village, as and such has always seen its share of tourists looking for a quiet, ‘typically French’ holiday.

But in recent years the village, population: 200, has been inundated with New Agers and other gullible visitors who are convinced that it is the only place on Earth to be spared total destruction in December 2012.

  • In the 1960s and 70s Pic de Bugarach became popular with hippies, in part because it was said to have ‘good vibes’
  • According to Wikipidia the top layer of the 1,230 metres (4,040 ft) high mountain “is an overthrust from the Iberian plate, and is older than the bottom ones.”

    The Independent explains

    Often called the “upside-down mountain” — geologists think that it exploded after its formation and the top landed the wrong way up — it is thought to have inspired Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Since the 1960s, it has attracted New Agers, who insist that it emits special magnetic waves.

  • A steady stream of these New Agers — or esoterics, as the locals call them — have been flooding the village in the belief that when apocalypse strikes on 21 December this year, the aliens waiting in their spacecraft inside the mountain will save all the humans near it.
  • The notion that the world is going to end on December 21, 2012, is based on a dubious interpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar which was used by, among others, the Mayans.
  • The stuff about aliens is based on, well, a mixture of New Age and UFO gobbledygook.

  • View Pic de Bugarach in a larger map
  • Henry Samuel says in The Telegraph that according to Bugarach mayor Jean-Pierre Delord

    people had been coming to the village for the past 10 years or so in search of alien life following a post in an UFO review by a local man, who has since died.

    “He claimed he had seen aliens and heard the humming of their spacecraft under the mountain,” he said.

    The mayor also said that

    online UFO websites, many in the US, [advise] people to seek shelter in Bugarach as the countdown to Armageddon commences.

    “Many come and pray on the mountainside. I’ve even seen one man doing some ritual totally nude up there,” said Mr Delord.

    Sigrid Benard, who runs the Maison de la Nature guesthouse, said UFO tourists were taking over. “At first, my clientele was 72 per cent ramblers. Today, I have 68 per cent ‘esoteric visitors’,” he said.

    Several “Ufologists” have bought up properties in the small hamlet of Le Linas, in the mountain’s shadow for “extortionate” prices, and locals have complained they are being priced out of the market. Strange sect-like courses are held for up to ‚¬800 a week.

    “For this price, you are introduced to a guru, made to go on a procession, offered a christening and other rubbish, all payable in cash,” said Mr Delord.

  • As mentioned, the influx of people seeking doomsday survival has caused a boom in Bugarach real estate prices. Houses that sold for € 80,000 a few years back now go for two to tree times that amount.
  • Others are profiting as well: A nearby village has produced a special wine in celebration of the impending apocalypse. Some travel agencies have reportedly marketed one-way tickets to the village, and according to The Times “one landowner is offering to rent out his four-bedroom house on the slopes of Bugarach for 1500 euros ($1870) a night next month, or a field in which to pitch a tent for 400 euros.”
  • The mayor is concerned that his village cannot handle the increasing numbers of safety-seekers. Others worry about what will happen if and when the end of the world does not take place on December 21st.

    Miviludes, a French religious sect watchdog funded by the government, has warned that some sects (the European equivalent of cults) may be considering mass suicide.

  • Miviludes was set up in 2002 to track the activity of sects, after a law passed the previous year made it an offence to abuse vulnerable people using heavy pressure techniques, meaning sects can be outlawed if there is evidence of fraud or abuse.
  • Recently the Daily Mail reported that

    French officials have banned access to the Pic de Bugarach to avoid a rush of New Age fanatics, sightseers and, above all, journalists.

    A hundred police and firefighters will also control approaches to the tiny village of the same name at the foot of the mountain, and if too many people turn up, they will block access there too.

  • Note: many media reports use the term apocalypse. That word is derived from the Greek apocalypsis, which means “revelation” or “unveiling.” […more…]
  • Others use the name Armageddon — a Hebrew term that means “Hill of Megiddo.”

Doomsday cults


Bugarach — the village’s official website (yes, in French)
Find a hotel near Bugarach


Vacation? Short break? Day trip? Get Skip-the-line tickets at GetYourGuide.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday December 3, 2012.
Last updated if a date shows here:


More About This Subject


Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission -- at no additional cost to you -- for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate, Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this research service free of charge.

Speaking of which: One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at