Monday, 20 October 2008

Blooming October.....

The end of September and the first two weeks of October were glorious but today, there's a definite chill in the air. I suppose we are approaching the end of October, but I'm a little disappointed all the same. We normally manage warm, sunny afternoons until the end of the first week in November.

Despite the chill, the roses are giving us a last, glorious blast of colour. I took these photos this morning. Wonder how much longer the flowers will last....when they go, winter will officially be here.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Glanum part 3....

So to finish the series of photos of Glanum, here's the road that would have led you to the centre of town. Not wide enough for carriages, like the roads in Pompei where you can still see the grooves worn by the wheels.

....some amazing bas relief carving.....

And an overview of the whole site...

And for those who would like to see's a link to the album....

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Glanum part 2

Having visited many parts of the Roman empire and made a bit of a habit out of ooh-ing and aah-ing at various examples of roman-ness on our travels, I've never seen anything quite like what remains of this temple top at Glanum. Turns out that it is not the original - disappointing. However the reason for the reconstruction is pretty convincing. The mistral, which whips through our part of Provence would wear the soft stone away at a rate of knots, so to preserve the intricate carving, it's in the museum and this is a reconstruction. Here's a close up....

Monday, 13 October 2008

La, la, la, la, lavender

Actually, this is just a little experiment to see if I can embed a slide show in the blog. If you'd like to have a better look at these pictures that I took near Sault (about 45 minutes from us) back in July, click the link to our Picasa photo album that pops up in the bottom left corner at the end of the show or when you roll your mouse over it.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Windows of Provence (3)

Another edition to my (still small) collection of Provençal Windows...

From Windows of Provence

More to follow, but don't hold your breath!

Friday, 10 October 2008

What did the Romans ever do for us?

The Romans were a big influence in our corner of Provence and one of the most interesting historical visits around here is to Glanum, the remains of a Roman town just outside St Remy de Provence. The Romans weren't the first to colonise the valley - they followed hot on the heels of the Celto Ligurians and the Greeks. But as ever it seems that the Romans had the best building techniques and it's the remains of the Roman town which are still standing.

Glanum has the oldest triumphal arch in Gaul

and the best preserved Cenotaph in the Roman world,

as well as being in a beautiful setting at the foot of the Alpilles and being a really interesting example of a small Roman town.

Glanum flourished until 260 AD when it was destroyed by maurauding German tribes and the inhabitants moved north to found St Remy - we're very grateful to them for that!

I am going to upload pictures of Glanum over the next few days as it's hard to do it justice in one post....

Thursday, 9 October 2008


These beauties have been the hit of the summer. They just keep flowering - and are still at it as we hit mid October. Might try scattering them in patches in the field next year and see if can manage a wild flower meadow....

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Hip Avignon

Just to prove that we are not totally lost in tradition down here in the south, here are some shots of some hip hop dancers who we spotted one night, performing in front of the Palais des Papes as the sun was going down. The setting was fantastic and the dancers were pretty good too - as the size of the audience confirms.

Friday, 3 October 2008


With apologies for the gap - I have been busy with some consultancy, I thought I would post some photos of a new event which took place in the village this summer, to huge public acclaim. As I think I have mentioned, throughout the summer we have a series of bull and horse related events - one of which is known as the 'abrivado' and involves 5 camargue horsemen and women galloping up the main street with a bull, and the locals trying to stop the bull, turn it round and send it back in the opposite direction. The somewhat hazy origins of the practice seem to be that that's what happened historically when bulls were being brought to market - the locals seized the opportunity to indulge in a spot of bull theft.

This year's new event was billed as a 'transhumance des anes' or a version of the seasonal transhumance, where sheep (mostly) are driven from the hot lowlands to cooler mountains in spring and driven back down again in autumn. Guy tells me that animals used to do this themselves without any prompting, which I guess makes sense as their instincts seem somewhat more honed than our own.

Anyway, on the night in question, the horsemen came galloping up the street in the usual intimidating manner....and then nothing much happened - as the 20 donkeys who were following them ambled up behind, heading off down side streets, stopping to eat geraniums etc. They eventually made it to the end of the road, at which point, the riders tried to round them up to take them back in the opposite direction to no avail as the entire population of Rognonas seemed to be in the street, stroking the donkeys, who were having a very nice time, thank you very much and were going no where. A mass therapy session then ensued before the donkeys were eventually persuaded back down the road and home to their fields full of hay, offerings of carrots and general goodwill. Let's hope it becomes a regular feature.