The story too big to handle is the predicted end of the world.
According to one of the legends, the sleepy southern French town of Bugarach is the only place standing after the apocalypse, the Earth will be populated by 150 policemen, some on horseback, 250 frustrated journalists from around the world and about 180 very puzzled villagers.
“I am making an appeal to the world – do not come to Bugarach.” Not the kind of pro-tourism message you’d expect from a mayor. But pity poor Jean-Pierre Delord of Bugarach in France, who is putting off visitors who believe his town’s Pic de Bugarach mountain is due to open up and spit out human-saving aliens during today’s Mayan-predicted apocalypse.
It is believed that Maya calendar sets the December 21 as the day a planet hurtles into the Earth. This date is the winter solstice of the northern hemisphere and also the climax of the calendar’s 5,125-year “long-count” cycle.
Village Mayor Jean-Pierre Delord said the mountain has always been a little bit mystical and attracts a wide variety of people.
Also among the wilder tales that have circulated online, the flat-topped Pic de Bugarach, which stands 1,230 metres high, conceals a giant unidentified flying object that aliens will use to whisk fortunate relics of humanity to an unspecified place of safety. There they would prepare for their role as the pioneers of a new age.
A local legend has it that the mountain once swallowed an evil sorcerer who will be released on doomsday in a ball of fire.
The inside of the mountain will then become a safe place to hide as the sorcerer goes on to destroy the rest of the world.In the meantime, some old coal mine shafts have been opened up as safe rooms for the dozens who have arrived already.
To start, the mountain is upside down, created when the earth’s plates pushed against each other millions of years ago, flipping the older rock on top.
The Telegraph reports, any true “believers” bold enough to try to tackle the 4,035ft climb to the peak of Pic de Bugarach in heavy drizzle first had to get past cohorts of police stationed in roadblocks around the village. Only visitors with press or village passes were allowed in.
After one hippie died climbing the mountain earlier this year, Mr Delord quipped to the French media: “The end of the world came a bit earlier for him than he expected.”
According to the Mirror, regional prefect Eric Freysselinard said: “I have issued an order barring anyone from climbing the mountain. And those trying to get into the village will be stopped and asked what their business is.”
He said: “Bugarach and the mountain will then remain closed off until two days after the world is supposed to end.”
Bugarach, or its peak, is one of a select few locations around the world that are meant somehow to escape the worst tomorrow.
The National writes that this month, the Turkish town of Sirince, where hotel bookings have reached record proportions, leading some locals to believe there may be need for emergency shelters if the number of visitors proves excessive.
Also panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America.