Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

Crèche at St-Gervais-sur-Mare

The animated crèche at St-Gervais-sur-Mare is a local wonder. The stable scene is altogether traditional, Jesus is not placed in the manger until Christmas Eve. The wonder is the surrounding buildings. A complete miniature village representing all the crafts and industries of the area. There is a farrier, a cloutier or nail maker, miners, shepherds, a blacksmith's forge, a stream with fishermen and many more creations. The whole village is the work of one man, Monsieur Mas, and his wife and has been built over the past 16 years, The buildings are made of local stone and the roof tiles are typical provençal pantiles made from clay (more than 11,000 of them!). Many of the models are animated with the workings driven by scavenged windscreen wiper and washing machine motors. Monsieur Mas can tell you who is represented by many of the model villagers. The crèche is located in the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs in the village and is open until mid February. I really recommend a visit if you are in the area! Happy Christmas.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Chateau de Mercoirol

Le Chateau de Mercoirol

The ruins of the 10th century Château de Mercoirol are situated 428m high to the south of Lamalou-les-Bains. In the distance are the snow-dusted hills of the Cévennes. The highest hill in the photo is Le Marcou (1070m).
(Canon EOS 450D, Sigma 17-70mm at 62mm, 1/1000s f6.3)

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Icy fingers

Icy Fingers

It's very cold here still. The temperature hasn't risen above freezing today, very unusual for the south of France. These icicles were up in the mountains and may well last for some time.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Frosty Espinouse

Frost and snow in the Espinouse

About 20 minutes drive from our home the road crosses some high passes (above 1000m) in the Espinouse hills. The views are always beautiful but today, with the trees rimed in frost and light snow, it was exceptional!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Weir near Bédarieux

Weir on the River Orb

By this time of year this weir is usually flowing very fast but we have had very little rain this autumn and the flow on the River Orb is low.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Suspension Bridge

Suspension bridge at Le Poujol-sur-Orb

This suspension bridge has been recently overhauled and repainted. All traffic is prohibited if the temperature falls below -20 deg C! In the six years we have lived here the temperature has never got anywhere near that! (Canon EOS 450D, Sigma 17-70mm lens at 17mm)

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Handsome Villa

Villa in Lamalou-les-Bains

One of the many attractive villas in Lamalou-les-Bains. Once private homes, many have now been converted to apartments. (Canon EOS 450D with Sigma 17-70mm lens at 25mm)

Friday, 11 December 2009


Roquebrun and the River Orb

The small town of Roquebrun is an attractive tourist destination in summer with people sunbathing and paddling from a stony river beach or hiring canoes on the River Orb. It is much quieter in winter, but just as attractive. It benefits from a microclimate which keeps the temperature a little higher than its surroundings and is consequently known locally as "Le Petit Nice". (Panasonic Lumix FX-07)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Oratory

The Oratory

This curious little building is situated in the vineyards above L'Horte. The Oratory has seven sides and a central pillar and table which usually has an attractive display of flowers. Each of the seven roundels above the open doorways is filled with different coloured abstract stained glass. A tablet above the main entrance (on the opposite side to the photo) reads (loosely translated) "Here stands the Oratory of St John of the Peace of God erected by Marguerite Massot. House of prayer and contemplation for men and women of all beliefs conscious of the need to eliminate the violence of the world." (Canon EOS 450D with Sigma 17-70mm lens at 17mm. Psudo HDR in Photoshop)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Le Camin Ferrat

Le Camin Ferrat

Mostyn and I took our Tuesday walk from the town of Soubès near Lodève. This walk climbs an ancient road known locally as Le Camin Ferrat. The road dates from medieval times and was used for the transport of salt from the Camargue and for the Transhumance, the transfer of flocks from lowland winter pasture to the high Causses and back. The photo shows Mostyn toiling up the partly paved roadway which ascends 400 metres over a distance of less than 2 Kms. (Panasonic Lumix FX-07)

Monday, 7 December 2009

Old Railway Station

La Gare, Lamalou-les-Bains

This is the old railway station at Lamalou-les-Bains. The station used to be a busy terminus for the direct train from Paris until the middle of the 20th century bring "curistes" to benefit from the healing waters of the Spa. Nowadays the building serves as a Chambres d'Hôtes and as an Art Gallery. (Canon EOS 450D with Sigma 17-70mm lens at 17mm)

Saturday, 5 December 2009

December dawn

 Dawn in Lamalou

This amazing sky greeted me when I got up this morning. We don't see good sunsets from our house being on the East side of a hill, but we do get some stunning dawns! (Canon EOS 450D with Sigma 17-70mm at 23mm)

Friday, 4 December 2009


Old Lunas and Le Redondel

This is the town of Lunas. The old part of the town is clustered round a spur of rock called Le Redondel. There is a statue of the Virgin on the edge of Le Redondel and the ruins of the old castle on the very top.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Foret des Écrivains Combattants

Memorial stone at the Foret des Écrivains Combattants

This forest is only a few kilometres from our house. It was planted as a memorial to the writers and poets that died in the "Great" war, World War I. The inscription reads (loosely translated): "In memory of the 560 writers that died in the struggle against the invasion. The Association of War Writers has planted these trees in the struggle against flooding." The forest was planted in the late 20s as part of a massive reforestation effort to reduce the risk of landslip during heavy rains.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Paul Coste-Floret

Bust of Paul Coste-Floret

This bronze bust of Paul Coste-Floret is near Lamalou-les-Bains casino. He was an important French politician rising to the post of Minister of the French Overseas Territories in the Post-war years. He was also mayor of Lamalou from 1953-59 and again from 1971-79. One of Lamalou's many hospitals bears his name today.         (Panasonic Lumix FX07 with fill-in flash)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Full moon over Capimont

Full moon over Capimont

Speaks for itself! (Canon EOS 450D, Canon 55-250 IS lens at 250mm)
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