La belle France

La belle France. It’s like being back in a warm bath of calm & quiet & peace. Driving along tree lined roads with the roof down and the wind blowing through my hair as the sun shines down from a blue, blue sky. Fields of sunflowers turn and bend their yellow heads as I pass, computer tracked combines precision harvest the wheat & barley leaving mohican cuts of the last rows of bumper crops, vines stretch in tangly lines on both sides of the road hiding their clumps of grape treasure amongst their grasping fingers. Further south this ripe farmland gives way to the rocky limestone outcrops & stunted oak woodland of Provence & the Cevenne where narrow ancient roads wind their way up & down crags & hills, following the courses of near dry rivers & streams as they link shuttered towns & villages & hamlets all locked away from the heat & the sun. Yes, la belle France.

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My first taste of the Provençal life is spending a few days catching up with friends around their pool, enjoying with them the lifestyle, the culture, the vineyards, the towns & villages around Manosque, to the east of the Rhône in Provence. Together we sample evening meals & cold beers in balmy, leafed ceiled squares, enjoying warm temperatures and good company and excellent food & wine accompanied by local musicians hammering away at some dubious mid metal European pop, morning coffee to watch this small town wake up and visits to local vineyards to taste & purchase the best rosé and heaviest reds (not so good at 10.30 in the morning!!)!

Enjoy these images which I hope capture the heat, the colour, the smell, the sound, or lack of it, the peace of small town France. The accompanying soundtrack should include the cicadas sounding off at each other, the leaves & flags, gently rustling in the breeze and the occasional clink of cutlery around a hum of French voices. I am home!!!!

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