Alex van Terheyden
Le Parc aux Bombous - a worthy contender for a place to visit if near Mirepoix and Carcassonne
The Land use in Southwestern France is usually a mix of vineyards, farmland, rural and urban centres but there's a unique place where Bamboo can be found in an array of diversity. One man’s fascination with Bamboo has turned it into an enterprise that is now a tourist attraction.
Le Parc aux Bombous is set in a lush setting on the banks of the beautiful River L’Hers. Set over 5 hectares and established back in 2006 the Bamboo gardens have enthralled visitors who set forth in these not very french surrounding. More than 200 Species of Bamboo can be found in this tranquil garden.
Bamboos are evergreen perennial flowering plants. The origin of the word "bamboo" is uncertain, but it probably comes from the Dutch or Portuguese language, which originally borrowed it from Malay or Kannada.
In bamboo, as in other grasses, the internodal regions of the stem are usually hollow and the vascular bundles in the cross-section are scattered throughout the stem instead of in a cylindrical arrangement.
Bamboos include some of the fastest-growing plants in the world, due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. Certain species of bamboo can grow 910 mm (36 in) within a 24-hour period, at a rate of almost 40 mm (1⁄2 in) an hour (a growth around 1 mm every 90 seconds, or 1 inch every 40 minutes). Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family. This rapid growth and tolerance for marginal land, make bamboo a good candidate for afforestation, carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation.
Bamboos are of notable economic and cultural significance in South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia, being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a versatile raw product. Bamboo, like wood, is a natural composite material with a high strength-to-weight ratio useful for structures. Bamboo's strength-to-weight ratio is similar to timber, and its strength is generally similar to a strong softwood or hardwood timber.
Le Parc aux Bombous can be reached from Mirepoix very easily and also makes for a worthy day trip from Carcassonne or possibly Toulouse if you don't mind clocking up the miles. Or if you are in the lucky position to be taking the scenic route while travelling through Southern France there are plenty of beautiful hotels and chalets you could stop at in the nearby area.
Airbnb is always a delightful option as it gives you a real taste of the local area and is generally far better value than a Hotel in Southern France. Of course, Breakfast is not always included but does this matter with the money that will be saved! I'm an Airbnb host as well as a frequent Airbnb traveller. I love Airbnb because not only does it make travelling more affordable but it also allows you to stay off the beaten track. Staying with a local or in your own cottage is far more unique than staying in a generic hotel you could find anywhere in the world. Use the map below to search for the perfect Airbnb stay within this charming part of France.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I always try my best to make a video to go with any blog post. In this video, I explore the wonders of "Le Parc aux Bombous". For viewers who enjoy the video, I have added some extra information on the wonders of Bamboo in the paragraphs below the video.
Bamboo - The Stuff of Legends:
In several Asian cultures, including that of the Andaman Islands, believe humanity emerged from a bamboo stem.
In Philippine mythology, one of the more famous creation accounts tells of the first man, Malakás ("Strong"), and the first woman, Maganda ("Beautiful"), each emerged from one half of a split bamboo stem on an island formed after the battle between Sky and Ocean.
In Malaysia, a similar story includes a man who dreams of a beautiful woman while sleeping under a bamboo plant; he wakes up and breaks the bamboo stem, discovering the woman inside.
The Japanese folktale "Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" (Taketori Monogatari) tells of a princess from the Moon emerging from a shining bamboo section. Hawaiian bamboo ('Ohe) is a Kinolau or body form of the Polynesian creator god Kāne.
A bamboo cane is also the weapon of Vietnamese legendary hero, Thánh Gióng, who had grown up immediately and magically since the age of three because of his wish to liberate his land from Ân invaders. The ancient Vietnamese legend Cây tre trăm đốt (The Hundred-knot Bamboo Tree) tells of a poor, young farmer who fell in love with his landlord's beautiful daughter. The farmer asked the landlord for his daughter's hand in marriage, but the proud landlord would not allow her to be bound in marriage to a poor farmer. The landlord decided to foil the marriage with an impossible deal; the farmer must bring him a "bamboo tree of 100 nodes". But Gautama Buddha (Bụt was his name) appeared to the farmer and told him that such a tree could be made from 100 nodes from several different trees. Bụt gave to him four magic words to attach the many nodes of bamboo: Khắc nhập, khắc xuất, which means "joined together immediately, fell apart immediately". The triumphant farmer returned to the landlord and demanded his daughter. Curious to see such a long bamboo, the landlord was magically joined to the bamboo when he touched it, as the young farmer said the first two magic words. The story ends with the happy marriage of the farmer and the landlord's daughter after the landlord agreed to the marriage and asked to be separated from the bamboo.
In a Chinese legend, Emperor Yao gave two of his daughters to the future Emperor Shun as a test for his potential to rule. Shun passed the test of being able to run his household with the two emperor's daughters as wives, and thus Yao made Shun his successor, bypassing his unworthy son. After Shun's death, the tears of his two bereaved wives fell upon the bamboos growing there explains the origin of spotted bamboo. The two women later became goddesses Xiangshuishen after drowning themselves in the Xiang River.
Because bamboo can grow on otherwise marginal land, bamboo can be profitably cultivated in many degraded lands. Moreover, because the rapid growth of bamboo is an effective climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration crop, absorbing between 100 and 400 tonnes of carbon per hectare
Bamboo is harvested from both cultivated and wild stands, and some of the larger bamboos, particularly species in the genus Phyllostachys, are known as "timber bamboos". Bamboo is typically harvested as source material for construction, food, crafts and other manufactured goods.
Bamboo cultivation in South, South East Asia and East Asia stretches back thousands of years. One practice, in South Korea, has been designated as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems.
The durability of bamboo in construction is directly related to how well it is handled from the moment of planting through harvesting, transportation, storage, design, construction, and maintenance. Bamboo harvested at the correct time of year and then exposed to ground contact or rain will break down just as quickly as incorrectly harvested material.
Uses for Bamboo
Although the shoots (newly emerged culms) of bamboo contain a toxin taxiphyllin (a cyanogenic glycoside) that produces cyanide in the gut, proper processing renders them edible. They are used in numerous Asian dishes and broths, and are available in supermarkets in various sliced forms, in both fresh and canned versions..
The empty hollow in the stalks of larger bamboo is often used to cook food in many Asian cultures. Soups are boiled and rice is cooked in the hollows of fresh stalks of bamboo directly over a flame. Similarly, steamed tea is sometimes rammed into bamboo hollows to produce compressed forms of Pu-erh tea. Cooking food in bamboo is said to give the food a subtle but distinctive taste.