Friday, 12 November 2010

Arc-en-Ciel

Rainbow over Le Bousquet d'Orb
On our walk today, Mostyn, Button and I were accompanied by a rainbow almost the whole way. No rain for us but it was obviously in the air to the north. The town of Le Bousquet d'Orb is framed by the rainbow.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Autumn, Gorges de Colombières

Autumn colours in the Gorges de Colombières
Taken this morning on my walk with Mostyn and Button. This walk along the east side of the gorge is one of my favourites. The occasional shafts of sunlight highlighting the autumn colour of the Sweet Chestnut trees were striking.
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/400s @ f/5.0)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Departing Storm

Dramatic sky after thunderstorm
This afternoon there was a short but violent thunderstorm. As it passed I was struck by the appearance of the sky. The photo was taken from our garden.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Monday, 8 November 2010

Autumn, Forest track

Sweet Chestnut leaves on a forest track
The autumn colours are really beginning to show well now. This photo was taken yesterday in the Forêt de l'Usclade above Le Poujol sur Orb.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Evening Shadows, Cirque de l'Infernet

Evening shadows spread across the Cirque de l'Infernet
Button looks on from the footpath as the late afternoon shadows creep up the opposite hillside in the Cirque de l'Infernet near St-Guilhem-le-Désert.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Notre Dame de Lieu Plaisant

N.D. de Lieu Plaisant
As promised here is a photo of the Hermitage at Notre Dame de Lieu Plaisant near St-Guilhem-le-Désert. The hermitage is now occupied as evidenced by the open shutters and the fresh woodpile, it's a 3 Km walk from the nearest habitation but an inspiringly peaceful place. The hermitage has several different names; N.D. de Belle Grace, N.D. de l'Ermitage and N.D. de Lieu Plaisant. I much prefer the last as this is a very pleasant, peaceful and lonely place!
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

St-Guilhem-le-Désert

St-Guilhem-le-Désert from the N.D. de Lieu Plaisant path
This view of St-Guilhem shows the village nestling in the valley in late October sunshine. Mostyn and I walked from St-Guilhem to N.D. de Lieu Plaisant (photo to follow) and back via Les Fenestrelles today. An excellent walk!
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Douch Village

Douch Village
The village of Douch lies close to Le Caroux at a height of 897m. Despite the harsh winters and isolated situation there is a fair sized resident community. Some commute (when weather permits) others work on the land in farming and forestry. There is a small museum dedicated to the Mouflon or wild mountain sheep and a Gîte d'Étape which serves drinks and meals in the summer.
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 33.0mm, 1/500s @ f/6.3)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Lac du Salagou

Lac du Salagou
This photo was taken on a walk around the shore of this reservoir - 26 Kms. The Red Sandstone "Ruffes" rocks, eroded in the foreground, are typical of the area around the Salagou. The lake is used as a reserve for hydro-electric generation and also as a water supply for the Canadair aircraft used for "water bombing" forest fires during the summer. Watching them fill their tanks while flying low over the lake is quite a sight!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Ripe Sweet Chestnuts

Ripe Sweet Chesnuts
This part of Southern France has many Chestnut plantations. Indeed, in the past chestnuts were the staple food providing flour to make bread after drying in specially built "Sécadous" or drying houses. This photo was taken near to the village of Villecelle.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Cirque de Navacelles

Cirque de Navacelles
Yesterday, Mostyn, Button and I went walking around Navacelles. The remarkable remains of a meander of the river Vis have made this location a well-known tourist sight. The river now flows straight, over a cascade, past the far side of the village. Usually, such a cut-off meander forms an oxbow lake but in this location the river has eroded down leaving a dry and fertile plain.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Hérault View 2

From near Douch looking towards the Vialais Valley
Another view of the Hérault landscape in early autumn.
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 19.0mm, 1/800s @ f/6.3)

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Hérault view

View west from Rochers des deux vierges
Mostyn and I walked up to a spectacular viewpoint today, the "Rochers des deux vierges" (Rocks of the two virgins). A castle was built on the top of this dolomitic limestone outcrop in the 10th century. Very little remains now, but there is a small chapel. The photo shows the view to the west looking towards Mont Liausson and Pic de Vissou.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Public Toilet, Sète

Typical, ornate public loo in Sète
Although the old "Pissoirs" are no longer found in most towns in France, some of the public toilets still have that French "Je ne sais quoi" about them!
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Friday, 24 September 2010

Classic French Building, Sète

Town Building with Wrought-iron Balconies
I love the symmetry of this photo. Many of the buildings in this region have excellent wrought-iron balconies. This is just one of many in the interesting town of Sète.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A Shovel Load of Fish

Newly landed fish in Sète
This shovel load of fish was in the process of being sorted in Sète this afternoon. Besides fish (Gilt-head Bream, Sea Bass, Red Mullet) there are Octopus, Cuttlefish, Scallops and Oysters among many others in this photo.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Bridge, St-Étienne-d'Albagnan

Bridge over the R. Jaur at St-Étienne-d'Albagnan
I've always liked this elegant, single-track bridge over the River Jaur.
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17.omm, 1/800s @ f/6.3)

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Swallowtail caterpillar

Swallowtail caterpillar
This photo of a mature Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar on one of its food plants, Fennel, was taken near the river Orb in Hérépian.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Friday, 17 September 2010

Cirque de l'Infernet, St-Guilhem-le-Désert

Cirque de l'Infernet, looking towards St-Guilhem
The climb up onto the high Causse around St-Guilhem-le-Désert presents some awesome views. This view, looking back towards the village, was taken from above Les Fenestrelles.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Les Fenestrelles, St-Guilhem-le-Désert

Les Fenestrelles
Our regular Tuesday walk took us back to one of our favourites, Les Fenestrelles at St-Guilhem-le-Désert. The walk follows a track from the village up the side of the Cirque de l'Infernet, which was originally constructed in the Middle Ages by the Monks of the Abbaye de Gellone in the village as a "transhumance" way to allow the transfer of flocks from the low, winter pastures to the high, summer pastures on the Causse de Larzac. The path eventually zig-zags up to a sheer rock face and to pass this the monks built this arched and buttressed path across. It is a magnificent achievement and well worth the climb.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Red, Green and Blue

Tree growing on the "Ruffes"
The red sandstone (or "ruffes") rocks in the Salagou valley create a fascinating landscape. This contrast of colours took my eye yesterday while out walking with Mostyn.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Friday, 10 September 2010

Shimmering Salagou

Shimmering Salagou
An arm of the Lac du Salagou shimmering in the September sunlight. Taken from the top of Le Cayroux near Le Peuch.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10 300mm equiv telephoto)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Hills behind hills

Layered hills
On a slightly misty day the view south-east from Roc de l'Escayrou near Cambon shows the hills receding in tone into the distance.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Monday, 6 September 2010

Canal du Midi

Canal du Midi near Cers
Button is checking the waters in the Canal du Midi. These small bridges are typical of this stretch of the canal which is now used almost exclusively for pleasure boating.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Wooden Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox church near Sylvanès
This beautiful wooden construction was moved from the Kirov region to the north of Moscow to a site near Sylvanès in 1993. It was built in Russia, then dismantled and all the timbers numbered before being transported by railway to Millau and thence to this site in the forest of Pessalles between Le Fayet and Sylvanès. There it was reassembled by the same group of young Russians who had originally built the church.
(Canon EOS 450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 28.0mm, 1/400s @ f/6.3)

Réservoir d'Avène

Réservoir d'Avène
A view of the Réservoir d'Avène. The water levels are low at the end of summer, perhaps 4 metres down on peak levels.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Friday, 3 September 2010

Aesculapian Snake

Aesculapian Snake Elaphe longissima
While out walking near Avène today I found this snake sunbathing on the path. Unlike most snakes, it didn't immediately move off giving me a chance to take a few photos. I was delighted that one of the photos caught the snake with its tongue out! This non-poisonous snake is a new species for me. This species is also associated with Greek Mythology and Medical History. It is said that the staff of Aesculapius has Elaphe longissima coiled around it and it appears on the medical symbol, the Rod of Aesclepius.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10, flash)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Ripening Blackberries

Ripening Blackberries near Hérépian
It's the time of year for the fruits of the hedgerow as well as for the grapes on the vines.
(Canon EOS450D, Tamron SP90mm, 1/2000s @ f3.2 ISO400)

Monday, 30 August 2010

Chapelle St Amans

The isolated chapel of St Amans
The tiny chapel of St Amans sits 680m high on the hills above Lunas. The site commands extensive views of the Escandorgue, the Orb valley and south to the Mediterranean. The chapel appears ageless but was, in fact, completed in about 1870. The site has had religious significance for much longer. There was a hermitage here in the late VII century, one of five hermitages around Lodève mentioned in a papal bull of 884AD. The exterior is quite plain with a large porch and a round apse. A simple cross adorns the roof above the door. Inside, the apse is painted blue with a polychrome statue of St Amans on the simple altar. You can see more photos and read about other chapels on my chapels website.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Thorn Apple

Fruit and flowers of Thorn Apple
Many Thorn Apple (Datura stramonium) plants have appeared this year on disturbed ground in the Forêt des Écrivains-Combattants. This robust, annual plant is highly poisonous being a member of the Solanaceae which includes the Nightshades, Mandrake and Henbane along with the Tomato and Potato!
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Friday, 27 August 2010

River Agout, Cambon

River Agout, near Cambon
I went for a walk with Button, our dog, this morning. We passed through Pont d'Agout near Cambon. This is a photo of the river from the bridge.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Monument, Forêt des Écrivains-Combattants

La Croix de Guerre monument
This monument is in the shape of La Croix de Guerre, the highest military award in France. It was built in 1931 by the sculptor Moreau-Vauthier to commemorate the writers that took up arms in defence of their country during the 1914-1918 war. It is at the main clearing in the forest which is also dedicated to the war poets and writers. An inscription on an information board nearby reads: "Tous ont ecrit de leur sang une page de courage et de gloire après avoir, par leur plume, participé en renom spirituel de leur pays pour lequel ils sont morts." which translates (roughly) as "All have written with their blood a page of courage and glory after having, with their pen, participated in the noble spirit of their country for which they have died."
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Bread Oven

Bread oven near Fraïsse-sur-Agout
Communal bread oven (Four Banal) near Fraïsse-sur-Agout. Button is checking that no-one has left anything to eat inside!
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Madale from La Caissenole

Madale village
La Caissenole is the name of the highest point of the hill upon which stands the Forêt des Écrivains-combattants. This view, looking north, shows the village of Madale on the side of the Gorge de Madale. The forested hills of the Espinouse lie beyond.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Copper Demoiselle

Female Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx hæmorrhoidalis)
Several male and female Copper Demoiselles were active next to the River Orb near Bédarieux this morning. The male has a coppery red body colour, which is where the species gets its name.
(Canon EOS450D, Tamron SP90mm macro, 1/800s @ f/7.1, ISO 400)

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Clermont l'Hérault market

Crowds at the market
The Wednesday morning market was at its busiest today. The market at Clermont l'Hérault is the best in the region and always attracts crowds, but mid-August is also the peak of the holiday season - so the crowds double! It's still a great place to visit.
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Old Railway Viaduct, Bédarieux

Railway Viaduct, Bédarieux
The 37 arches of the old railway viaduct at Bédarieux make an imposing sight. The viaduct is 713m long and 20.5m high at its highest point. The railway was built in the 1850s to transport minerals from the mines in the area to Béziers in the south and Millau in the north. This line was closed in the early 20th century and later replaced with another which follows a slightly less demanding route.
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 21.0mm, 1/1000s @ f/5.6)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Praying Mantis

Hello, nice to (m)eat you!
A close-up portrait of a female Praying Mantis in our garden.
(Canon EOS450D, Tamron SP90mm, 1/400s @ f/5.6 ISO 1600)

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Le Château Bas, Boussagues

Le Château Bas, Boussagues
This 12th century fortified château was built about 1150 for the Seigneurs de Boussagues. It fell into disrepair in the 1300s and was restored in the 16th century when the North tower and North wing were added. Abandoned again, it was bought and restoration began in th early 20th century. Recent restoration work has been carried out by our friends Maggie and Nigel who live here. You can find more about the château and the village on their website.
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17.0mm, 1/500s @ f/5.6)

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Le Château Haut, Boussagues

The Donjon of the Château Haut at Boussagues
This massive building was the upper castle in Boussagues. It was constructed as a defence position in the 12th Century. It is not open to the public and I believe is in use as a private dwelling.
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 23mm, 1/1600s @ f/5.6)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Chapelle du Trinité, Boussagues

Ruins of the Chapel of the Trinity at Boussagues
Only the shell now remains of the 13th century Chapelle du Trinité. It would have been an imposing building situated above the village of Boussagues but it was never completed. It was being built because Boussagues had a population of 3000, believe it or not, and it needed another Church. The Black Death came and wiped most of them out and it was not needed.. Nowadays, the modern cemetary is situated in the grounds of the ruined chapel.
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/160s @ f/8.0)

Monday, 2 August 2010

Maison Bailli, Boussagues

Maison Bailli
This attractive 16th century house in Boussagues was the residence of the Bailiff or Mayor of the town. Rumour has it that it was later used as a home by the painter Toulouse-Lautrec! The tower is topped by a pigeonnier or pigeon loft. In the 15th century pigeons were used as a means of communication by the aristocracy (as well as for food!)
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 23mm, 1/250s @ f/8.0)

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Boussagues

The ancient fortified village of Boussagues
Boussages, in the commune of La-Tour-sur-Orb, is an ancient fortified village dating from at least the 9th century. This view shows some of the historic buildings. Number 1 is the Donjon of the Château Haut (12th century), 2 is the Château Bas (12th century, the home of friends of mine), 3 is a superb 16th century mansion "Maison Bailli", 4 is the medieval prison and 5 is the ruins of the 13th century Chapel of the Trinity and the current cemetery. Further photos of this interesting village to follow later.
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 44mm, 1/60s @ f/11)

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Southern Skimmer Dragonfly

Southern Skimmer Orthetrum brunneum
This dragonfly is widely distributed throughout southern Europe but is absent from the British Isles. The photo was taken at the La Peyne stream near to the Barrage des Olivettes.
(Canon EOS450D, Canon 55-250mm IS lens @ 250mm, 1/400s @ f/7.1)

Friday, 30 July 2010

Château de Pouzolles

Château de Pouzolles
The village of Pouzolles, 20Km north of Béziers, is dominated by the twin turrets of its château and the spire of the church.
(Lumix TZ-10, 1/500s @ f/3.2, 32mm equiv focal length)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Menhir at Picarel

Menhir at Picarel le Haut
The area around Murat and the Monts de Somail have many standing stones or Menhirs. This one, at Picarel le Haut, is near to the village of Fraisse-sur-Agout. Many of these curious megalithic monuments have some resemblance to the human form. This one has a simple groove about one third of the way from the top which is supposed to represent the division between the head and the body. The 2.5 meter tall stone stands down a gravel track some 400 meters from the road.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Dragonfly eating Damselfly

Yellow-legged Clubtail eating an Orange white-legged Damselfly
While at the Lac de Bordelet a few weeks ago this Dragonfly landed on my trouser leg with the prey that it had captured and ate it, like spaghetti, while I watched! The dragonfly is a Yellow-legged Clubtail, Gomphus pulchellus, and the hapless damselfly is an Orange White-legged Damselfly, Platycnemis acutipennis. Perhaps slightly gruesome but nonetheless fascinating!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Fireworks, Bastille Day

Fireworks in Lamalou-les-Bains
July 14th is the main national day in France. Often called "Bastille Day" it is more correctly known as "La Fête Nationale". Most towns and even many small villages have firework displays. Lamalou-les-Bains has a spectacular display with the fireworks set to music. Along with the fireworks, the residents enjoy street entertainments and much eating and drinking!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Tree lined road, Ceilhes-et-Rocozels

Shady, tree-lined road
France is often associated with its long stretches of tree-lined highway. In the summer the plane trees provide much needed shade from the intense sun. This road is at Ceilhes-et-Rocozels.
(Canon EOS450D, Tamron SP90mm, 1/60s @ f/10.0)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Marseillan, Le Port

Le Port, Marseillan
The town of Marseillan is on the banks of the Étang de Thau, a huge lagoon at the end of the Canal du Midi. The attractive port area is an active marina and is lined with good restaurants, many serving the shellfish for which the étang is famous, e.g. the Bouzigues oysters.
(Canon EOS450D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17.0mm, 1/1000s @ f/7.1)
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