Travel

Col du Lauteret

Col de la Cayolle

Back south from the mountains, the sky clearing but the colours of the trees and grass showing early autumn both in the mountains and down in Provence.

Read more: Lauteret-Vars-Cayolle-Maure

Berger tending his flock of sheep and goats in the Vallée de la Séveraisette

The valley of the Drac Blanc

Cold snap here in the Écrins rather than the Indian summer which we had hoped for. We’re staying again ay Boustigue, just off the Route Napoléon at Corps. Fine dawns on the Grande Tête de l’Obiou (2790 m.) over the mist in the valley of the river Drac. We followed the Drac upstream to its sources, the glaciers of the Écrins. The name Drac means “dragon”, so-called because of its devastating flash floods. The valleys of the two principal tributaries are quite different in character, the White Drac runs down a valley of crystalline rock whereas the Black Drac has a deep valley eroded in to sedimentary rock.

Read more: Drac-Champsaur-Écrins

Dawn at Sète with a seagull

A seagull looks curiously at the photographer... do I have a croissant? Meanwhile, the sun rises over the French Mediterranean port of Sète.

Marseillan, Bassin de Thau

Marseillanport, Bassin de Thau

Historic Marseillan, a fishing port on the Bassin de Thau since the 12th century. More peaceful than Marseille and the air is clearer. The Bassin de Thau is famous for its oyster beds; it’s a lagoon, a geomorphologic synclinal; the corresponding anticlinal is the mountain of the Gardiole to the north-east. Nowadays, the Marseillanais grow vines, brew the vermouth Noilly-Pratt created in Marseillan in 1813 and still enjoy their comedy in their Italian theatre; there’s a chateau and of course a church, this one with richly-coloured stained glass windows and a tower dating from the 11th century. But mostly the visitors enjoy the port with a selection of historic and modern vessels moored at its old quays.

Roman temple at Vernègues, near Aix-en-Provence

One of the more impressive Roman ruins in Provence that you can still happen across walking along a path, without the mediation of a guide or Visitor Centre. In an idyllic location behind Chateau Bas, whose vineyards produce very pleasing wines in the Coteaux d’Aix appellation contrôlé, the Roman ruins are thought to be a temple to Jupiter and Minerva because of inscriptions found nearby on the same site. However the peaceful rural site reeks of Silvanus, the Romans’ woodland god. The Corinthian style of the remainign column suggests the Augustan era.