A stairway to heaven

Escaladei – lost in the Sierra de Montsant, some 150 km southeast of Barcelona – once a magnificent Charterhouse monastery, is now a silent and melancholy ruin. Founded in the 12 century by monks arriving from France, this was the first Charterhouse monastery in the Iberian Peninsula. The monastery played a fundamental role in developping…

Cau Ferrat

Cau Ferrat, the home and workshop of painter, collector and part time archeologist, Santiago Rusiñol, is now a museum. Located in the Spanish seaside town of Sitges on the coast just south of Barcelona, the house was a showcase for Rusiñol’s paintings as well as his collections. The museum, renovated between 2010 and 2014, is…

Poblet

The Royal Abbey of Poblet in the Spanish province of Catalonia was founded around 1150 by Cistercian monks arriving from France. The abbey was founded to rechristianize and resettle lands recently conquered from the Saracens. The abbey is famous today as the burial place of the Aragonese kings. Fantastic stoneworks, gothic ribbed barrel vaults, a…

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…

Winter patterns

It is surprising what you can see from the window of a commercial aircraft. Here : patterns in the snow : Afghanistan. La vue du hublot d’un avion de ligne surprend parfois : Ici : images de l’hiver : Afghanistan

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…

Lauterbrunnen and the Jungfrau

Waterfalls and mountaintops : the essence of Switzerland is found in the Lauterbrunnen valley. Chutes d’eau spectaculaires et sommets enneigés, l’âme de la Suisse se trouve dans la vallée de Lauterbrunnen.

The view from Schynige Platte

Schynige Platte : an alpine garden, altitude 6500 ft, in the Bernese Oberland near Interlaken. On a good day, apart from appreciating the alpine flowers, the visitor is rewarded with excellent views on the emblematic mountains of the area : the Eiger, the Mönch and the Jungfrau. On this day, the views were not ideal….

Gingerbread house and fairytale castle

Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein : perched on hilltops in the Bavarian Alps near the Austrian border, these 2 castles, built by the Bavarian kings leave you pondering the strange obsessions of people with too much money. Hohenschwangau et Neuschwanstein : ces 2 châteaux, construits par les rois de Bavière dans les alpes bavaroises prés de la…

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.

Under the Dachstein

The village of Hallstatt is on the cover of most of the tour guides for Austria. With good reason as it is picture postcard pretty. And overrun with tourists in summertime. The town exists and became prosperous in past centuries due to the nearby salt mines on the flanks of the Dachstein. Sandwiched between the…

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…

*Daibutsu

The statue of the Buddha in different guises is a key feature of the Buddhist temple. Sometimes the statues are very big. Here are some examples : Tian Tian Buddha : the biggest statue of Buddha in the world and not very old (built in the late twentieth century). The bronze statue is 34 m…

Lakes and Islands

Lago Maggiore : A big lake partly in Switzerland and partly in Italy with, near Stresa, 3 islands and 2 islets making up the Borromean Islands. One of the islands, Isola Bella, contains one of Italy’s most beautiful gardens. That’s not to say the others are not interesting either. The Isola dei Pescatore is inhabited…

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….

January storm

Ronda Spain : January 2008 : Even in sunny southern Spain, the clouds sometimes fly low. The winter storm and low sun provide some striking contrasts over the nearby landscapes, the city and the Puento Nuevo (bridge). Ronda, Espagne : janvier 2008 : Même au sud de l’Espagne, région reputée pour son climat doux et…