As the village bells struck noon, the moment at which the Mayans had supposedly predicted the world would end, Sylvain Durif was calmly playing the panpipes for a vast crowd of jostling camera crews. "I am Oriana, I embody the energy of cosmic Christ," he said. "When I was five I was abducted by a flying saucer belonging to the Virgin Mary. I'm here to get my message to the world, that there will be a regeneration."

He had predicted a feeling that was "something like 10,000 orgasms." By 12.11pm, the earth still hadn't moved for him. But he said wasn't disappointed. "I had no great expectations of an external event, it's all a question of inner alchemy." He marvelled at the dozens of international television crews that had filmed live footage of him after he hitchhiked here each day from a local village. "At least I managed to transmit my message to the world," he said.

Bugarach, a tiny French village in the foothills of the Pyrenees, was – according to an internet rumour no one has ever got to the bottom of – said by Mayans to be the only place on Earth to survive the 21 December apocalypse.