Back to Summer

23 Sep

The weather back in Provence has been lovely.  Nice warm days, but not too hot, between 23˚C and 27˚C.  We had the Mistral blowing for a couple of days but thankfully that has stopped now.  Once the sun sets the temperature drops fairly quickly to remind you that the season is changing.  Overnight lows have been 12˚C to 15˚C, nice for sleeping but too cool to stay outside with a glass of wine until midnight.  Although come to think of it we still did that once this week and it wasn’t the time I ended up with a headache!

So given that we are on notice that this very pleasant weather will end soon we have been trying to make the most of it.  We have had one day at the beach (it was meant to be two but on the second day I woke with a headache and it only cleared at lunchtime, too late to go).  We have been exploring the scenery around Sainte-Victoire, near Aix-en-Provence.  We spent a day looking around the area surrounding Gourdon, a hilltop village near Grasse.  We also spent some time relaxing here at Sue’s place and doing domestic stuff like going to the supermarket.  All in all a very pleasant week.

Something that did end up taking a big block of time was installing iOS 7 on my phone and dealing with things that misbehaved as a consequence.  I seem to have it mainly working OK now and I am generally impressed with it.

Anyway, here are some photos…

Sue's cat, Jazz sitting on her car in the shade.  It's a tough life being a cat!

Sue’s cat, Jazz sitting on her car in the shade. It’s a tough life being a cat!

Perched on rocks overlooking the river Loup is the village of Gourdon.  The last time we were here cloud came in blocking most of the view to the Mediterranean.

Perched on rocks overlooking the river Loup is the village of Gourdon. The last time we were here cloud came in blocking most of the view to the Mediterranean.

Next to perfumeries the most popular business in the tourist village of Gourdon is running a café.

Next to perfumeries the most popular business in the tourist village of Gourdon is running a café.

Up the hill behind Gourdon was a bit like a moonscape.  The views were great.

Up the hill behind Gourdon was a bit like a moonscape. The views were great.

Looking out over the village of Gourdon towards Nice and the airport.

Looking out over the village of Gourdon towards Nice and the airport.

Leanne found some ripe blackberries...

Leanne found some ripe blackberries…

Leanne's harvest from which she made us a blackberry and apple crumble.  Served hot with vanilla ice-cream, excellent!

Leanne’s harvest from which she made us a blackberry and apple crumble. Served hot with vanilla ice-cream, excellent!

A quiet mid-week day at the beach.  This one is Plage de la Garonnette which is between Fréjus and Sainte-Maxime.  Sitting on the beach was lovely but even Leanne had to concede that the water was too cold for swimming.  I only went as deep as my big toe.

A quiet mid-week day at the beach. This one is Plage de la Garonnette which is between Fréjus and Sainte-Maxime. Sitting on the beach was lovely but even Leanne had to concede that the water was too cold for swimming. I only went as deep as my big toe.

Looking back into the bay at Garonnette.  This spot seemed popular for kids sailing.  There were Lasers and Hobby Cats lined up on the shore and lots of school-aged kids about.

Looking back into the bay at Garonnette. This spot seemed popular for kids sailing. There were Lasers and Hobby Cats lined up on the shore and lots of school-aged kids about.

This train of Optimists had obviously finished their sailing for the day and were under tow back to the club house.

This train of Optimists had obviously finished their sailing for the day and were under tow back to the club house.

We had heard good things about the Wine Cooperative at Taradeau so we dropped in for a look.  Nice shop, friendly staff, good wine, tasting, and a selection of single malt scotches as well.

We had heard good things about the Wine Cooperative at Taradeau so we dropped in for a look. Nice shop, friendly staff, good wine, tasting, and a selection of single malt scotches as well.

Jazz brought this trophy dormouse (a loir in French) to us one evening.  The poor thing was quite alive but frightened out of its wits.  We tricked Jazz into stepping in the house then closed the door behind her.  Within a few minutes the dormouse had regained its composure and disappeared into the night.  BTW, those concrete pavers are 320mm square.

Jazz brought this trophy dormouse (a loir in French) to us one evening. The poor thing was quite alive but frightened out of its wits. We tricked Jazz into stepping in the house then closed the door behind her. Within a few minutes the dormouse had regained its composure and disappeared into the night. BTW, those concrete pavers are 320mm square.

After carefully threading our way along a rocky access road for 20 minutes and then a short walk we arrived at Ermitage de Saint-Jean du Puy.  The main buildings were behind the camera but this tower was commanding a great view across the valley to Sainte-Victoire.

After carefully threading our way along a rocky access road for 20 minutes and then a short walk we arrived at Ermitage de Saint-Jean du Puy. The main buildings were behind the camera but this tower was commanding a great view across the valley to Sainte-Victoire.

A part of the view from Ermitage de Saint-Jean du Puy.

A part of the view from Ermitage de Saint-Jean du Puy.

A panorama taken from Ermitage de Saint-Jean du Puy.  Try clicking on it to enlarge it then zoom and pan for the best view.

A panorama taken from Ermitage de Saint-Jean du Puy. Try clicking on it to enlarge it then zoom and pan for the best view.

After leaving Ermitage de Saint-Jean du Puy we drove across the valley, crossed the A8 and worked our way towards the foothills of Sainte-Victoire.

After leaving Ermitage de Saint-Jean du Puy we drove across the valley, crossed the A8 and worked our way towards the foothills of Sainte-Victoire.

Getting closer to Sainte-Victoire.

Getting closer to Sainte-Victoire.

Our closest approach from the side of Sainte-Victoire.  There is a monument just visible near the end - that is La Croix de Provence.

Our closest approach from the side of Sainte-Victoire. There is a monument just visible near the end – that is La Croix de Provence.

Looking back at the end of Sainte-Victoire after leaving Le Tholonet.

Looking back at the end of Sainte-Victoire after leaving Le Tholonet.

As an exercise I put my 50mm f/1.4 prime lens on the camera for the visit to Villecroze and didn’t take my other lenses with me.  So no zoom, just a simple set up.  It is meant to be good practice to help you improve composition etc.  I thought it would be tricky but it turned out easier than I thought.  You just have to ‘zoom with your feet’, as they say.  Its also a lot lighter to carry!  Here are some examples…

Sunday morning we went to the vide grenier (flea market/jumble sale) in Villecroze.  I was surprised at how weathered looking the plane trees were.  They don't change colour and drop until late November.

Sunday morning we went to the vide grenier (flea market/jumble sale) in Villecroze. I was surprised at how weathered looking the plane trees were. They don’t change colour and drop until late November.

Of course we had to get some pastries and some bread while we were in Villecroze.

Of course we had to get some pastries and some bread while we were in Villecroze.

The square in Villecroze is lined on one side with a few cafés and restaurants.  Right next to where we had coffee was this sign for an ironmonger.  Last time we were here the big doors were open and the sounds of industry were filtering out together with flashes from arc welding.

The square in Villecroze is lined on one side with a few cafés and restaurants. Right next to where we had coffee was this sign for an ironmonger. Last time we were here the big doors were open and the sounds of industry were filtering out together with flashes from arc welding.

The Villecroze square is well covered by plane trees.  It didn't seem to be especially busy this time.  In the back of this shot is the primary school - boys on the left and girls on the right.

The Villecroze square is well covered by plane trees. It didn’t seem to be especially busy this time. In the back of this shot is the primary school – boys on the left and girls on the right.

Like most villages we have seen in these parts, Villecroze has a memorial to the Resistance fighters who helped liberate it in WWII.

Like most villages we have seen in these parts, Villecroze has a memorial to the Resistance fighters who helped liberate it in WWII.

Just a short one this week.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  Please post a comment.

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One Response to “Back to Summer”

  1. Jeff September 23, 2013 at 05:23 #

    did you know that the cross on top of St Victoire is regularly hit by lightening and had to be restored ! I am told the view up there is fabulous but never got any closer to the top than your photos.. however it is one beautiful piece of rock which inspired many famous painters.. and sunset over Mt St Victoire can bring out some gorgeous pink hues

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