Parlez-vous Français?

So summer is ending. After a little drizzle yesterday morning, we had a pretty sweet day here in the Seattle area. Today, right on queue with the arrival of autumn, the forecast is for rain. They say the problem is the Autumnal Equinox. Nothing to be done about it. Well, I know what to do about it – let’s look at some images of southern France in the summer!

Back in 2010 (was it really that long ago?) I had the opportunity to go on a photography workshop in the south of France in the famous region of Provence. The Romans called it Provincia Romana because it was the first Roman province beyond the Alps. After a bit more than a thousand years, the Romans got tired of dealing with the French and in 1481, it became a province of the Kings of France. I’m kidding, of course. The Romans got tired of the French long before that. (Note to my one French subscriber: still kidding!)

Anyway, because of the Roman influence, Provence retains a distinct cultural and linguistic identity that sets it apart from the rest of France. That, and it’s just cool to say “Provence”. (I hope you’re using the proper French accent when you say that to yourself!)

One thing you see a lot of in southern France is French people. OK, besides that, and lavender and poppies, you see a lot of old buildings with the roof missing. One theory is that the buildings were built in Roman times, and when the Romans went back to Rome, as Romans will do, they took the roofs with them. No one actually believes this theory. A far more popular explanation is that buildings were taxed based on the number of rooms in the house with a roof over them. Tired of being taxed on a building you don’t really use any more? No problem! Knock down the roof!

Poppies, Provence, France

Poppies stand watch over a farm, in Provence, France.

Incidentally, Louisiana, being about as close to French as you can get in this country, had a similar tax system back in the day. Not wanting to live in plantation homes without roofs, and because closets were counted as rooms, owners reduced their taxes by using armoires instead of closets to store their clothes. And that’s where Narnia comes from.

This next image comes from a shoot next to a lavender field that was clearly off limits to the public. The place had a fence around it and a big warning sign in French that said to stay the hell off the property. I don’t even speak French, and I knew that. I pointed it out to our workshop leader, and he said, “Don’t worry about it! It’ll be fine! They don’t really mean it!”. Uh huh. So while everyone else was running through the lavender rows willy-nilly with their tripods, I stayed on the perimeter and took photos of the town of Puimoisson on the other side of the field. Frankly, the lavender wasn’t mature enough to be worth the trouble, anyway. Well, it wasn’t five minutes before a car drove up and a woman got out and started yelling at us in French to get out of her field. As I sheepishly passed her, she pointed to the sign and said in English, “You don’t speak French?”. “No ma’am”, I said. “But our leader over there does!” I didn’t really say that. But I wanted to. Badly.

The village of Puimoisson, France

A bell tower dominates the scene in the village of Puimoisson, France.

The cute little village of Roussillon had plenty going for it, but what caught my eye was what someone had done with an old doorway. Why whitewash it when you can put a work of art on it! Is this scene Roman enough for you?

Mural on a Street Corner,  Roussillon, France.

A mural is painted on a doorway on a street corner in Roussillon, France.

This next building is a famous Cistercian abbey near the village of Gordes. It was founded in 1148, so that makes it older than even Seattle. The monks support themselves with beekeeping and by growing lavender, which you’ll notice is suspiciously absent from my image below. That’s because we were so hopelessly early in the season that the lavender was nothing but ugly stalks and rows of dirt. The next time I go to France to shoot lavender images, I’ll do my own research and go at a more appropriate time of year.

Sénanque Abbey, Gordes, France

Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, founded in 1148, is a Cistercian abbey near the village of Gordes in the département of the Vaucluse in Provence, France.

Finally, one more abbey, also from the picturesque village of Gordes, but closer to the center of town. This beautiful abbey looks like it belongs here, blending in almost perfectly with the surrounding hillside.

Notre-Dame Church and Bell Tower, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France

The Notre-Dame church and bell tower appear to be part of the surrounding landscape, in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France.

So, that’s enough of Provence for one sitting, I suppose. It really is on my list to return there later in the season and witness the gorgeous fields of mature lavender in person. Maybe next year!

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6 Responses to “Parlez-vous Français?”

  1. Lorraine says:

    Ohhhh…..soooo beautiful, Ed!!!

  2. Jeff Mabry says:

    Qui, je parle le francais. Mais mon grammaire et mon Vocabulaire sont
    mauvais. J´ai besoin le practice avec hommes et dammes de France. Pourtant, je essaye and je voudrais parler plus.

    Great photos, Ed. Really beautiful and the interesting.

    Still in Barcelona, but no meds in the mail yet. my canines are getting longer, and i´m praying there won´t be any full moons before i get them. Owooooooooooo!

    Tu amis, jeff

  3. Sue-Z says:

    C’est tres belle!