The Eagle and the Hedgehog – a fable from Jura

Around la Chaux-du-Dombief, in Jura, it is like a pastoral symphony made landscape. Or is it a fable. The village could be a common Jura village, if it wasn’t for its magnificent surroundings. Just North is a long limestone ridge, that steeply plunged into two lakes, lac du Grand Maclu and Lac du Petit Maclu.Continue reading “The Eagle and the Hedgehog – a fable from Jura”

The Jura mountains

As I drove north from Annecy the Jura mountains, once again I found landscapes I felt at ease with. The Jura mountains are the north-eastern little sisters of the Alps. Switzerland is very close, as the crow flies, but it is cut off by the high peaks of the mountain range, then by the riverContinue reading “The Jura mountains”

Nomadic people of France

During my wanderings I have met the nomadic peoples of France. Several times on the road as I looked for a place to stay, I saw signs for “Aire pour gens du voyage”, “site for the travelling community”. I hesitated. Technically, literally, those are set up for people like me. But “gens du voyage” isContinue reading “Nomadic people of France”

Deep down in Gorges du Tarn

Quite by chance, I came across the gorges du Tarn. “Le hasard fait bien les choses », it was a happy accident. Driving through the causses, the high plateaux of the South-West of Massif Central, the summer heat kept on pushing me on northwards. After the harvests, the ground was red. Sheep were around – IContinue reading “Deep down in Gorges du Tarn”

The Cathar castles

Since childhood I have wanted to visit the Cathar castles, “les châteaux cathares”.  And thankfully, the vertigo citadels, high on the Corbières’ peaks,  were up to my expectations. The Corbières are the hills which link the Pyrenees to the Massif Central; in the wider valleys grow wines, but the hills are covered in Mediterranean garrigue.Continue reading “The Cathar castles”

Along the Pyrenees 4: Massat, mountain capital of countercultures

Another nomad told me that in Ariège, Massat, a village south (and therefore uphill) from Saint-Girons, was the hippies’ HQ. So I decided to go, mingle, and see what happened. As I drove up the valley toward Massat (you pronounce the t), I went past several organic vegetables and fruits shops. On the road, moreContinue reading “Along the Pyrenees 4: Massat, mountain capital of countercultures”

The mine of Locmaria-Berrien, or the best kind of explorations

Two narrow canals, one fed by the lake in Huelgoat, one by the rivière d’Argent, go throughthe woods and around the valley, à flanc de colline, mid-slope. The upper canal is full of trouts. It is home to mallards and wagtails, and crosses enchanting beech woods. The green leaves, still tender at the end ofContinue reading “The mine of Locmaria-Berrien, or the best kind of explorations”

Monsters, saints, queens, and shipwrecks

The Coast of Legends is dotted with shoals, rocks, islets, islands, peninsulas. Some islands are accessible on foot at low tide still, if you don’t mind risking wet feet. Rocks seem to rise up to the ocean. Mounds, towers of huge granite boulders won’t budge for waves or sea spray. Some look like petrified monsters,Continue reading “Monsters, saints, queens, and shipwrecks”