Sunday, 28 February 2010

Salagou valley, Château de Malavieille

Château de Malavieille

This view shows the ruins of 12th/13th century Château de Malavieille atop a volcanic puy. The layers of red sandstone stand out clearly.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Salagou Valley

The Salagou Valley with the ruins of the Château de Malavieille

The Salagou stream is the main feeder for the Lac du Salagou. Over the years it has carved out this valley through the red sandstone ("Ruffes") rock. Several volcanic plugs remain standing proud of the sandstone. The ruins of the Château de Malavieille stand on top of one of the volcanic plugs or puy.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Lac du Salagou, Celles

Abandoned village of Celles

Continuing the series of photos taken in the Salagou valley this is the village of Celles. Celles at an altitude of 143m was threatened by the flooding of the valley in 1969. Much of the village was compulsorily purchased but the villagers were very reluctant to move. When the dam was completed the waters rose to their current level of 139m. The village was abandoned. The plans to deepen the reservoir to 150m were abandoned in 1996 and now there is some hope of re-establishing the village. However much looting of stone and fittings from the houses had taken place in the intervening 30 years!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Lac du Salagou, Evening

Lac du Salagou, Evening

A peaceful scene on the Lac du Salagou on a February evening.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

The Carved Elm of Le Caylar

The Carved Elm of Le Caylar

The small town of Le Caylar is on the Larzac plateau in the north of Hérault, close to the A75 motorway. The magnificently carved old elm tree in the centre of the town is its most famous landmark. The tree is covered with carvings of insects, birds, farm animals, plants and people. The work took the carver, Michel Chevray, 2000 hours and was completed in autumn 1989. You can read more about the tree on The Woodworkers Institute site.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

St Michel de Mercoirol

St Michel de Mercoirol

The chapel of St Michel de Mercoirol stands on a rocky platform above the ruins of the Château de Mercoirol. There are extensive views from here to the north-east along the upper valley of the River Orb and to the north-west and the massif of Le Caroux. There is an annual pilgrimage to this chapel from Les Aires on 8th May each year.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Carlencas view

Looking west from Carlencas

This photo was taken a few years ago, but we were in Carlencas today and the old harrow is still there. Unfortunately the cloud was so low that there was no view at all!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Pont de Diable

Pont de Diable, Villemagne l'Argentière

The Pont de Diable or Devil's Bridge at Villemagne l.Argentière is one of several such named in the area. This bridge, over the river Mare,  was built in the 13th century, probably by the monks of the Abbey at Villemagne. The Devil's Bridge appelation comes from legend. There are several different forms of the legend (see Devil's Bridge Legends) but one local one goes like this.

The local lord ordered a bridge to be built over the river. Every time the builders neared completion of the bridge the Devil threw the bridge down forcing the work to be started again. After several tries the nobleman sought a bargain with the Devil. The Devil agreed to allow the bridge to be completed on condition that he should have the soul of the first of the nobleman's servants to cross. The bridge was duly finished and, before allowing anyone to cross, the nobleman sent one of his hunting dogs across the bridge. The Devil was enraged but took the dog's soul as he had bargained.

Sunday, 14 February 2010


Icicles, Vallée de la Mare

After about a week of cold weather with the temperature hardly rising above zero, huge icicles have formed on the rocky wall of the River Mare valley. The longest are about 3 metres long!
(Canon EOS 450D, Sigma 17-70mm lens at 70mm, ISO 200, 1/100s, f/7.1)

Friday, 12 February 2010


Madale village in the snow

Mostyn, Button and I took a walk up at the Forêt des Écrivains-Combattants. It was bitterly cold with a strong NW wind but bright and sunny. This view of the village of Madale was taken from the edge of the forest.
(Canon EOS 450D, Sigma 17-70 mm lens at 53mm, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/640s)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Salagou Sunset

Sunset over Lac du Salagou

Speaks for itself I think.

Monday, 8 February 2010

The Theatre

The Theatre, Lamalou-les-Bains

Lamalou has a good theatre building. It is used to stage various plays and concerts but it's main use is to stage the National Festival of Operettas during the summer and a shorter such festival between Christmas and New Year. On the same square as the theatre stand the casino with its bar and restaurant, a small cinema showing general release films and the salle des fêtes used by the community for meeting, parties, weddings atc.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Les Trois Tours

Les Trois Tours, Faugères
The remains of three windmills top one of the hills near the village of Faugères. Known locally as "Les Trois Tours" (The Three Towers), one has been restored to working order, one is the home of the warden who looks after the site and the third is a small souvenir shop and observation platform.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Château Grézan

Château Grézan

The impressive Château Grézan is, in fact, a romantic 19th century reconstruction on the site of the original Commanderie founded by the Knights Templar in the 12th century. The reconstruction was influenced by Violet le Duc who was also the inspiration behind the restoration of the walled Cité of Carcassonne. Château Grézan now houses a small hotel, an excellent restaurant and is surrounded by vineyards producing its own wines under the Faugères appellation.
(Canon EOS 450D, Sigma 17-70 lens at 19mm)

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Les Orgues de Taussac

Les Orgues de Taussac

An impressive outcrop of rock just a couple of kilometres from home.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Laurens Mairie

The old Mairie at Laurens

This unusual building is the Mairie at Laurens. It is decorated with symbols of the French Republic including, at the top, the "Phrygian Cap" a symbol of the French Revolution. You may also be able to make out below the balcony the French motto "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité".

Monday, 1 February 2010

River Orb, Hérépian

Bridge over the River Orb at Hérépian

The reddish catkins in the photo are the immature male catkins of an Alder tree growing on the bank of the river.
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