The peaceful farming village Bugarach with its population of only 189 people in the Aude region, southwestern France. The village is situated at the foot of the Pic de Bugarach, the highest mountain in the Corbières wine-growing area, the Daily Telegraph reports.
But in the past few months, the quiet village has been inundated by groups of UFO watchers and fanatics who believe the peak is an “alien garage.”
They think that extraterrestrials are quietly waiting in a massive cavity beneath the rock for the end of the world in 2012, at which point they will leave, taking, it is hoped, a lucky few humans with them.
“This is no laughing matter,” Jean-Pierre Delord, the Bugarach’s mayor. “If tomorrow 10,000 people turn up, 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.”
Mr Delord said people had been coming to the village for the past 10 years 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 internet abounds with tales of the late President François Mitterrand being curiously heliported on to the peak, of mysterious digs conducted by the Nazis and later Mossad, the Israeli secret services.
Recently, the interest in the site had skyrocketed, said the mayor, with online UFO websites, many in the US, advising 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 the mayor. 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.
Valerie Austin, a retired Briton from Newcastle who settled in Bugarach 22 years ago who said the alien watchers were spoiling the village atmosphere.
“You can’t go for a peaceful walk anymore. It’s a beautiful area, but now you find people chanting lying around meditating. Everybody has the right to their own beliefs, but the place no longer feels like ours,” she said.
Recently she found a black virgin statuette cemented to the rock face. Although she described the alien claims as “total rubbish”, she said there was nevertheless something special about the place.
“It has a magnetic force in the scientific sense of the word. There is a special feeling here, but if I really believed the world were about to end, I’d have a whale of a time over the next two years” rather than look for salvation, she said.
Most believe Armageddon will take place on December 21st, 2012, the end date of the ancient Maya calendar, at which point they predict human civilisation will come to an end.
However, scientists have recently proved that the errors made in calculating the Mayan calendar means it may be inaccurate according to a recent textbook. That means those waiting for the world to end on Dec. 21, 2012 might be in for a big disappointment.