Bugarach, population 189, is a small farming village in the Aude département, in the Languedoc-Roussillon. It sits at the foot of the Pic deBugarach in the Corbières wine-growing area. At 1230 metres the Pic de Bugarach is rocky peak the highest point of the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Corbières. It is easily climbed: A classical route (called "voie de la fenêtre" referring to a big hole in a cliff) climbs the South face. From the top you have a fantastic view of the Pyrenees and can also see the Gulf of Lyon, part of the Mediterranean Sea. You can walk down an easier route, to the North, to join the Col de Linas.
This quiet village has been swamped by esoteric groups who believe the peak is an "alien garage" as they put it. The Pic is composed of limestone with galleries ("grottes") and caves beneath it. This is where the aliens conceal themselves and their fleet of intergalactic space vehicles. According to these esoteric groups, extraterrestrials are waiting in a huge cavity beneath the pic for the world to end. When it does the aliens will leave, taking, it is imagined, a few sympathetic esoteric humans with them. They see Pic de Bugarach as one of several "sacred mountains" where sypathetic humans can be sheltered from the coming cataclysm. Most believe Armageddon will take place on December 21, 2012, the end date of the ancient Maya calendar. They predict that all human civilisation will come to an end.
Jean-Pierre Delord, the mayor of Bugarach does not regard the arrival en masse of these groups as a laughing matter and is thinking about calling in the French Army. The Daily Telegraph in 2010 quoted him saying "If 10,000 people turn up tomorrow, as a village of 200 people we will not be able to cope. I have informed the regional authorities of our concerns and want the army to be at hand if necessary come December 2012."
The problem started at the new millennium when dozens of New Agers climbed the Pic de Bugarach on 31 December to await the end of the world at midnight. They thought that they alone would be evacuated by friendly space aliens and would avoid the inevitable death that the rest of us would suffer. When the end of the world failed to arrive on schedule they came back down and thought about it for a few months after which they changed their due date to 2012. According to M Delord people have been coming to the village since then in search of aliens, bolstered by a post in an UFO review by a local man who claimed he had seen aliens and heard the humming of their spacecraft under the mountain.
The internet is buzzing with stories and rumours. Nostradamus, the French apothecary who supposedly came from nearby Alet-les-Bains is said to have found the "vibrations" of Bugarach to be positive. The Pic de Bugarach is said to be where Jules Verne found the entrance and the inspiration for A Journey to the Centre of the Earth. The Nazis are said to have carried out mysterious archaeological digs at the top of the Pic de Bugarach (possibly true) and so are Mossad, the Israeli secret services (unlikely). Such digs here and at Montsegur are supposed to have inspired the film The Raiders of the Lost Ark. A visit to the Pic de Bugarach is said to have inspired Steven Spielberg's film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The internet relates stories of the late President François Mitterrand being helicoptered on to the peak for reasons unknown.
Locally, everyone has heard other stories with an older provenance. The shadow of the mountain has its own exceptionally wet micro-climate (true). Flying saucers have been seen above the mountain (possibly lentil shaped clouds mistaken for spacecraft). The mountain is often said to be "upside-down" - a layman's way of saying that the rock strata at the top are older than the rock strata at the bottom of the mountain (perfectly possible). According to many aircraft never fly near the mountain because it has a strong magnetic force which disrupts their electronics.
Esoteric theorists also associate the peak with the Cathars. This is the heart of Cathar Country and many esoteric thinkers feel a strong affinity with the dreadfully persecuted Cathars who held esoteric theories of their own. The last known Cathar Parfit was born near here at Cubiers and was burned alive near here at Villerouge Termenes. The ruins of a Cathar Castle at Le Bezu lie within sight of the Pic de Bugarach.
Interest in the site had recently skyrocketed with online UFO websites, many in the USA, advising people to seek shelter in Bugarach as the countdown to Armageddon draws near. Some have bought up properties in the hamlet of Le Linas, in the mountain's shadow. Property prices have soared. As at nearby Rennes-le-Château strange artefacts have appeared all over the area - dolls hung on fences, graffiti, black virgin statuettes and so on. The locals do not like it, associating such things with black magic.
The Daily Telegraph seems to take it very seriously and has thoughtfully provided a list of possible mechanism by which the end of the world might be accomplished: