In The Pyrenees.
Abd-EL-Kader And Napoleon III.
Observatory On The Pic Du Midi.
As we approached it, the scenery became imposing; the space between the mountains, which rose almost perpendicularly fifteen hundred feet above our heads, being hardly wide enough for the driveway and the foaming torrent. In fact, the road is for the most part cut in the rock itself, frequently hundreds of feet above the river, the roar of whose imprisoned waters echoing from the mountain walls made conversation here almost impossible. At length, a sudden turn revealed to us, wedged in between two precipices of great height, the little hamlet of Eaux Chaudes. Its form, like that of New York (to compare small things with great), is extremely long and narrow, for the reason that it has been able to grow in only one direction. Apart from a few houses, one or two shops, and a small church, Eaux Chaudes has only two conspicuous buildings. One is the bathing establishment; the other a plain, but scrupulously neat hotel, beneath whose balconies the river chafes and roars, as if enraged at the intrusion here of strangers. Two famous watering-places in the Pyrenees are here in close proximity, and are called respectively Eaux Chaudes and Eaux Bonnes. However, notwithstanding their descriptive names, the waters of the former are but very little warmer than those of the latter; nor are the springs of Eaux Bonnes "good" above all others in the Pyrenees. They lie in sep-arate, though adjacent valleys, and the resorts themselves are of a widely different character. Eaux Chaudes is smaller and less fashionable than its rival, and although many tourists select this as a starting-point for several notable excursions, the most of those who linger in this valley are invalids, who drink the water and take the baths because their health demands it. Still, we were well repaid for coming here, if only for the scenery. Moreover, here, as everywhere among the Pyrenees, we found the cuisine at the hotel excellent. "French cooking" is never better appreciated than in these mountain gorges, where one would naturally look for hardships and a meagre fare.
The Hermit Of The Observatory.
The Gorge Of Eaux Chaudes.
The Bathing Establishment At Eaux Chaudes.
However, the linguistic powers of our landlord at Eaux Chaudes were not so perfect as his culinary skill. In my room was a placard bearing a notice in several languages. The following was the English version:
"Daily's breakfast in apartment, five francs: Daily's dinner at table d'hote, five francs: Conformably the tariff all meal taked out of the table d'hote shall be paid one franc more for each meal: One watch-lights, fifty centimes; One sitting bath, seventy-five centimes: The proprietor shall't be responsible for precious things unless they have deposit in the cash office: Travelers without luggages are requested to pay every day."
Leaving Eaux Chaudes, and entering another of the glacier-chiseled grooves which slope from the great Pyrenean chain, we found ourselves upon a no less perfect road, than that by which we had approached the hot springs. By this, only a few hours after leaving the first halting place, we drove into the village of Eaux Bonnes. This is a tiny bit of Paris hidden away among the mountains, twenty-five hundred feet above the sea.
Its entire area is only about half an acre, and so extremely narrow is the gorge in which it lies, that it consists of only two streets and an intervening park, so small, that to perceive its band-stand and its little fountain at the same time, we were obliged to step from its triangular enclosure into the street. Yet even in these straitened circumstances, Eaux Bonnes contains some thirty hotels and pensions, ranged in two lines on opposite sides of the park, and in such tantalizing proximity, that in dull times all the proprietors stand at their doors and stare each other out of countenance, or in the "season" calculate to a sou the profits of their rivals. Behind these buildings are precipitous cliffs, which have been blasted away to give more space to the hotels. Only the front rooms, therefore, are available for tourists, since the sepulchral chambers in the rear, situated only two feet from the precipice, would be attractive merely to geologists. There are worse occupations than sitting on the balcony of one of these hotels upon a pleasant evening and listening to the music in the illuminated park. One feels at such a time as if he were in the proscenium box of a diminutive theatre, listening to light opera.