Bagatelle in January

Here, in 1907, a certain Charles Voisin made his first flight in an aeroplane equipped with an Antoinette V8 engine. Things are much quieter now but spring is coming soon. Selon Wikipedia, le 15 mars 1907 à Bagatelle, un certain Charles Voisin, “accomplit le premier vol mécanique sur un aéroplane muni d’un moteur à explosion…

Snowy surprise

Sometimes snow shows up when you are least expecting it. Parfois il y a de la neige aux endroits les plus improbables.

Coastline

A long trail runs along the Basque country coastline from St-Jean-de-Luz to La Hendaye. Great scenery and an easy trail, but best avoided on a hot day. Un sentier longe la côte du Pays Basque de St-Jean-de-Luz à La Hendaye. Des paysages magnifiques et un sentier facile, mais à éviter par temps chaud.

The “Fer à Cheval”

At the top end of the Giffre valley in Haute Savoie, there is a natural amphitheatre shaped like a horseshoe if seen from above. You need a drone for that particular viewing angle though. Seen from the meadow at the base of the horseshoe, it’s an impressive semicircle of tall cliffs (around 700 m of…

The secret garden

We are addicted to visiting beautiful gardens – it’s been like this for years. Everywhere we go, we look for a new one to visit. In Haute Savoie, we stumbled across the documentation for the “Jardin Secret” in Vaulx, were sceptical, but decided to visit anyway. The garden truly surprised us. It is not only…

The roman city

The modern city of Nîmes is the successor to a significant city of Roman times, complete with coliseum, roman temples etc. The ups and downs of history provided the city with many other monuments and in periods of prosperity, the city merchants were able to build a number of fine stately residences in the city,…

Grédone

The ancient site of Grédone, thought to have been a military strongpoint of the ancient Gabale peoples, is now the peaceful village of Grèzes. Located between Mende and Marvejols in Lozère region, it overlooks the Jourdane river valley below and shares the skyline with the Truc de Grèzes. In most of the Languedoc, a hill…

A Cistercian barn

Chabrolieres : at the low end of a valley near the Vivarais Corniche, and just before the river flows into a ravine. With a little effort and some navigation, you can end up staring up at an imposing but ruined Cistercian barn. No signposts, no information panels, no real road to get here and no…

Under the Tanargue

The Tanargue : a summit, and a ridgeline in the southern Ardèche, not that high (c 1500 m), but rugged all the same. The landscape of ridgeways, summits, river ravines and sweeping panoramas along with remote villages and bell-gabled churches is a hiker’s dream. Le Tanargue : un massif dans le sud de l’Ardèche, pas…

Avignon 1551

The Basilica of Saint Pierre in Avignon was built in the 1400’s and certain parts were finished as late as 1551. In particular one of the wood-sculpted scenes on the Basilica door was completed that year and depicts various exotic elements in recognition of the discovery of the Americas about 60 years before. La basilique…

Down from the Larzac

In former times, villagers took their livestock to higher ground for summer pastures. Significant work went into building and maintaining the winding trails from the lower valleys to high ground. Not much livestock moves on these trails these days, but they are still used by hikers. In this picture : the trail down from the…

Remote villages and mule trains

Thines, a remote village in the southern Ardeche, clings to an oval space on a rocky out crop dominating the valley below. Until the 20th century there was no road access to this village. All commerce and exchange depended on mule trains. The mule trails are still usable for hikers and this is the only…

Bell gables

In Romanesque architecture the bell gable is quite common. In regions of France such as the northern Gard and the southern Ardèche, romanesque churches are common and hence the accompanying bell gable. Some have 4 eyes, some 3, and often there are fewer bells than eyes. Le clocher à peigne est assez courant dans les…

Logs at the lookout point

September light on the Corniche des Cévennes highway – Altitude : 3000 feet. Logs dominate the viewpoint while waiting to be moved on to the sawmill. Lumière de septembre sur la Corniche des Cévennes – altitude 900 m. Des troncs de résineux qui partagent le belvédère en attendant la suite.

Scenes in the park

Tete d’Or park in Lyon : Legend says there was a golden statue of the head of Christ buried in these marshes, which, in the 19th century were converted into a large city park. No golden statue was ever found, but strange encounters are still possible in the park. Parc de la Tête d’Or à…

Closeup in blue

The scilla peruviana, despite the name, has no relation to Peru, and is at home in southern Europe. The blue colour of the flowers is difficult to describe – because it is not just just blue – but seems to contain shades of purple or red. La scille du Peru, ne vient pas du Péru….

Many names, one plant

Xanthoceras sorbifolium : Also known in english as yellowhorn, shiny leaf yellowhorn, goldenhorn or even Chinese flowering chestnut. This shrub or small tree heralds from northern China and is fairly unusual in gardens in Europe. Apparently the seeds, which resemble small chestnuts, are edible. In this case, I planted the seeds instead of eating them….

Painter’s despair

The heuchera : never still, never posing, always drifing with the slightest breeze. Here is a closer look at the flowers, not yet open. Heuchera : le désespoir des peintres, jamais sans bouger, même avec le moindre souffle de vent. Voici un clin d’oeil aux fleurs à venir.