Among the many myths surrounding rural Bugarach, population 189, are claims that the so-called lost civilizations of Lemuria and Atlantis originated here. UFOs also allegedly swirl overhead, and the local mountain may in fact be a gateway to alien beings who like to sail their spaceships on a huge interior mountain lake.
"It's the town that will resist the end of the world," read a headline in La Dépêche recently, echoing "pilgrims" in Bugarach who believe that helpful extraterrestrials are waiting inside the mountain to whisk them away when the Mayan calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012.
Mayor Jean-Pierre Delord, who declined to comment to AOL News today, has threatened to call in the military if the growing numbers of visitors who believe that alien civilizations exist underneath the local mountain swell in size.
"This is no laughing matter," Delord told Britain's The Daily Telegraph. "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."
That mountain, Pic de Bugarach, is at close to 4,000 feet the highest in the Corbières wine-growing area and ground zero for the mayor's troubles. It's said to be sacred by the outsiders who flock here and who call it the "Magic Mountain" or "Mystical Mountain." They call the upside-down like top of the mountain the "brooding cone."
"The apocalypse we believe in is the end of a certain world and the beginning of another, a new spiritual world," a man identified only as Jean, who lives in a yurt in a Bugarach forest, was quoted today in The New York Times.
"The year 2012 is the end of a cycle of suffering. [Bugarach is] one of the major chakras of the Earth, a place devoted to welcome the energies of tomorrow."
Bugarach and its mountain were said to inspire the science fiction writer Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and Steven Spielberg's film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
The plethora of rumors about the area also includes talk straight from "Indiana Jones" and "The Da Vinci Code" that politicians, Nazis and even the Israeli spy agency Mossad dug for mysterious information here.
It probably doesn't help that Bugarach is near the town of Rennes-le-Château, which has become the epicenter of conspiracy theories involving secret societies, buried treasures and the Holy Grail since the publication of a book called "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" in 1982.
"True, it's a spiritually powerful place. It may have been used for worship. But whenever I hear aliens and Atlantis, my alarm bells go off. That's for a far-out fringe."
Valerie Austin, who left Newcastle, England, to retire in Bugarach 22 years ago, told the Telegraph that the New Age seekers were ruining a tranquil paradise.
"You can't go for a peaceful walk anymore," Austin said. "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."