La Promenade du Peyrou is next to the old city centre in Montpellier. Bordering the promenade on two sides are these tree lined walkways. I was here on a rainy day but on a sunny day they provide shade and a place to sit. By using a telephoto lens I created compression in the scene which adds to the sense of a tunnel or covered walkway. In situations like this where there is a line of repeated elements this technique can work pretty well.
I had been walking for hours when I got here so I was happy to sit on one of the benches. The city itself is quite busy but this spot was a nice respite from the commotion. Right next to where I was sitting there was a British rock band packing up their van. From the look of the equipment they must have been filming a music video. The scenery here must be popular as a film location for all kinds of productions; from music to feature film. It’s the perfect european backdrop.
Actually, now that I think of it, this would be a good location for a photowalk. The Promenade is a good meeting point and from here you could walk through the old streets and alleyways of the ancient city. In the other direction is an old Roman aqueduct and plenty of other architecture. In any case, I was on my own one man photowalk, stopping only to rest on a park bench or sip a cappuccino at a bistro or have a glass of wine in an outdoor cafe. That’s the typical pace of a Rick photowalk, slow and easy wins the race.
These are houses in the old city center of Collioure. I am aiming up with the lens to get the colors and sky, but just below the field of view is a busy marketplace with all manner of shops. While my wife bought a locally made dress I walked around the square taking it all in. In the end we both left happy.
These houses remind me of California or even Florida. In warm climates homes are painted and colorful. In cold climates we make houses out of brick and the effect is completely different. Of course houses don’t look just like this in California, but the colors remind me of how varied they are when compared to the east coast of the US.
We had just finished having a drink at a cafe by the water and were meandering among the shops. I think the atmosphere of the place got to us because we lingered way too long. By the time we got back in the car we had many hours of driving to go. However I wouldn’t change a thing, in fact I plan to come back here and stay a little longer. These mediterranean costal villages are worlds unto themselves.
While in Collioure on my way to Barcelona I noticed this Catalonian woman walking along the shore. Little did I know that the residents of this region consider themselves Catalonian first, then French. Same goes for the Spaniards just south of the boarder. The region they live in crosses the border and is known as Catalonia.
If I can judge the people by the way they live, then they seem to be a solid bunch. When I was in Barcelona I noticed the Catalonian flag hanging from every apartment, literally tens of thousands. Silly me; I thought the flags had something to do with Barcelona FC, which if you don’t know is the most awesome soccer team in the whole universe. But no, not BFC, the flags were in support of Catalonian independence.
I’m just a visitor to the area, I know nothing about the politics, but it quickly became apparent that many are serious about becoming a separate country. That was reinforced by news of votes and such in international headlines about the same time I was here. But it seems for now, Barcelona (Catalonia) is still part of Spain and Collioure is still part of France.
So back to this woman walking the beach. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I suspect that Catalonian politics was the furthest thing from her mind.
On my last day in France I went for a morning walk on Carnon Beach. Like the beaches in Florida this stretches for miles in each direction. Unlike the beaches in Florida the shore is carved into large semicircles on account of the breakwaters that are built to prevent erosion. You can see them here and if you look at the scene from Google Maps you’ll see what I mean.
In Florida, we have quite a bit of beach erosion from storms each year, at least on the gulf side. In fact the local government repairs the beach every few years. By that I mean that they dredge up the sand from a couple hundred meters off shore and deposit it back on the beach until it erodes again. In France it seems they take a different, less costly approach. The result is mile after mile of these large semicircle beaches. It creates more shore line and perhaps accommodates more people.
Both approaches to maintaining beaches have their pros and cons. However I’m more interested in taking pictures than trying to figure which is better. I spend a lot of time at the beaches in Florida so I have ideas on how to take pictures there. The beaches in Carnon however present new ideas and challenges that I only began to explore. Next time I go back I’ll explore that a little more.
Actually, I have no idea if this is a typical day or not, I’ve only been here once. But because it was a Tuesday and not the weekend, I have to assume it was typical. I guess I’ll have to wait until I come back to be sure. The beach is protected by a seawall and the shops are all open and outdoor bistros serve beer, wine, coffee and pastries. Personally I could get used to this as a typical day. We stopped along here and had a drink at one of the cafes as we watched the everything around us. If I did live here I’d probably live to be a ripe old age, playing checkers or bocci ball with the other escapees from modern civilization. Then I’d sit and have a glass of red wine while I watched the people go by. Then I’d get up in the morning and do it all again. Just another typical day in Collioure, France.
This is the village of Gigondas which is in a mountainous area in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur northeast of Montpellier. Like many places in this part of France, Gigondas is known for its wine. Some of the vintners here refuse to change the methods of production that have survived hundreds of years from generation to generation. The town is on a hillside over looking the vineyards and these narrow streets climb up to a church overlooking the village. I took this on the way back down after surveying the surroundings and wondering how it is that these people manage to live apparent tranquil lives without all the big box stores and high tech gadgets. I think I know the answer to that.
This is the harbor at Carnon in southern France. I stayed about a mile from the east of this harbor and thought I’d walk around to the west side. Only I didn’t realize that once I arrived on the east side there was no bridge close by and so I had to walk another two miles to get to the west side. By the time I got back home I estimated I walked about five miles and took five photos. So in reality I took one photo for every mile. That’s a very low miles to photos ratio.
If you walk the narrow streets of villages and cities throughout France you notice doorways that lead to courtyards. As residents open the doors to the street I would get a glimpse of the courtyard beyond. In a few places like this there is public access, as it leads to a restaurant. These remind me of scenes from movies, but in fact they’re quite normal for folks who live in European city centers. Here I am looking straight up and wondering what it must be like to live here.
One of the best places to stand if you want to watch the world go by is by a central fountain in a european city. I stood in front of La fontaine des Trois Grâces in the center of Montpellier and no matter which way I looked there was something to watch. Sometimes quick, sometimes slow, but a lot of activity on all sides. Next time I should just stand there all day, stopping only for the occasional cappuccino and croissant.
The harbors along the French Mediterranean are full of sailboats. This is in Palavas but in another town further south we watched children learning to sail on rough seas which I though was pretty amazing. But that probably explains why so many people along the coast love to sail. This is just a small section of the harbor, there were many hundreds of boats moored here, many more than I’m used to seeing in our small Florida harbors. This was the scene as the sun set last week and I walked along the docks taking it all in.