Martian, like the planet | Lake Salagou, Languedoc Roussillon, France

The landscape around Lake Salagou was decidedly martian, or at least it came really close to how the landscape on Mars looks like in my mind. We went there just before dusk. The whole area was deserted, it seemed like we were the only people for miles and miles. The slopes that descended into the water looked like sand dunes and were swept by a constant, strong wind. But most of all, it was the strangely intense, deep copper red color of the ground around the lake that made it seem like we were on the Red Planet and not on Earth.*

At places, the soil was gravel-like, spilling over onto the paved road…

In other spots, the dunes turned into terraces of solid rock with a sharp, jagged surface.

On the way down to the lake’s shore, where the red soil bled into the water and made its blue color murky with a rusty hue, things got ever more outer-worldly.

I don’t know if it was the spots where the rocks had cracked, thousands of years ago, and now looked like the scales on the skin of a snake, with fossilized shells forever trapped in them.

Or maybe it was the pile of moss-covered stones that looked like they were dropped there by an invisible hand.

Or it could have been the strange plants that seemed like they belonged either in the desert or on another planet, but which somehow grew…

… although they often looked like they were pinned into the rocky soil artificially.

As the skies began to darken, and pink, purple and yellow patches peeked brightly from between the thick and voluptuous clouds, we hurriedly climbed back up towards the road, then got into the car and drove back to Planet Earth.

[Thanks, Kentin and Natacha for taking me and showing me this place. And for the delicious bread.]

*And just so you don’t go away having read all this and learned nothing, here is some factual information: the red hills in the area, called ruffes in French, were created over hundreds of millions of years by a series of geological events and apparently used to hide – in addition to the fossilized shells, dinosaurs’ footprints until they were destroyed by humans. The reason why the plants in the area look so particular is the high levels of iron oxyde in the soil, which incidentally is the same compound that gives the planet Mars its reddish appearance. So, don’t say you never learned anything from me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s