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.

Sakuras and crabapples

Around the last week of March till the 10th of April, the flowering prunus and malus shrubs and trees put on the most spectacular displays of color. No wonder the Japanese and other Asians are in love with these trees. The only “odd-man-out” in this series of images is the Chinese flowering chestnut (xanthoceras sorbifolium),…

The bridge

The Alexander III bridge in Paris. One of the most decorated bridges in the city, each decoration with a particular meaning or subject. Question : how much decoration is too much ? Le Pont Alexandre III à Paris. Construit entre 1897 et 1900 et decoré abondamment.

The intermittent lake

In the limestone garrigues region of southern France between Avignon and Montpellier and between the sea and the Cévennes range, the few lakes that exist are mostly the result of flood control dams on the local rivers. After the violent rains of the autumn, surface water flushes rapidly away to the sea or disappears into…

Le ventoux

Le sommet du Ventoux en ligne de mire depuis Courry – environ 70 km. The Ventoux sighted from Courry – about 70 km away.

The Vis Canyon

Looking down into the canyon. near navacelles, September 2014