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.
This is a small village in southern France that has maintained its medieval state through the centuries. In one section I notice construction on a home, the builder was building walls of stone as perhaps no differently than ages ago. It’s nestled in a gorge along a river which was nothing more than a stream when I took this. It was incredible walking through the narrow streets and it was easy to imagine I had been transported back in time.
Its safe to say the beach was quite deserted this morning at dawn when I showed up to get a few pictures. This is in Carnon along the Mediterranean in the south of France. But, just like back home in Florida, there are still people showing up to walk or run the shoreline. As well there were a few fishermen plying their trade. Some things, regardless of the location, seem to be universal. Beaches are places were people come to play or work along the shore.
Les Baux de Provence is the location of an ancient limestone quarry where stones were cut for the construction of castles and nearby villages. It resulted in an enormous cavern which today has been transformed in to a venue for a fantastic multimedia light show known as Carrières de Lumières. This is an image I took from the show which featured works of the Renaissance masters set to a dramatic soundtrack. It’s a stunning immersive experience and one that moved me profoundly. If you’re in the area you really should check this out.