Tag Archives: France

A FRENCH MOUNTAIN VILLAGE

St Martin sur Vesubie. Not much going on on a sunny Saturday morning.

St Martin sur Vesubie. Not much going on on a sunny Saturday morning.


‘A Jacques Tati square,’ our walking mate Peter calls it. We know exactly what he means.

We sit outside the boulangerie in St Martin sur Vesubie with our early morning cafe and pain au chocolat and watch as the village comes to life, its characters coming and going like figures in a mechanical clock.

Nobody seems in a hurry, including us. We have several hours to kill before the bus will take us back to Nice. Continue reading

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Filed under France, Hiking

HOW TOUGH IS A WALK ON THE GR5?

St Delmas le Selvage. It looks a long way down.

St Dalmas le Selvage. It looks a long way down from here, but it’s where the nearest cafe is waiting.

It’s hard to describe for non-walkers the experience of hiking one of Europe’s great trails, the GR5 over the French Alps.

Here’s my best effort to compare it to an exercise anyone can try at home… Continue reading

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HEADING FOR THE HILLS – back soon

The French Alps, mostly wi-fi free.

The French Alps, mostly a wifi free zone.

We apologise for this break in transmission. Do not adjust your set.

I’ll be somewhere in France for the next week, walking roughly southwards along the mighty GR5 route from St Paul-sur-Ubaye, hoping to emerge at St Martin-sur-Vesubie. There’ll be refuges with food, beer, wine and beds along the way, but I don’t expect to find internet access very often.

The Dutch footballers in Brazil will have to struggle on without my help. I’ll be back in time for the final.

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ENTER VIA THE GIFT SHOP – St Paul de Vence

The Grand Fountain.

The Grand Fountain.

It’s always nice when Fairfax media publishes my work in the ‘Traveller’ section of the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age. It means I can then release the full story on this blog…

The artists came to Saint-Paul-de-Vence because it was beautiful, quiet and cheap. The dealers moved in to hang out with the artists and buy their work. Their galleries attracted the tourists and smart restaurants replaced the artists’ smoky cafes and bars. The artists passed away or drifted away to find somewhere quieter and cheaper. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, France

TEN REASONS TO LOVE THE FRENCH ALPS

The scenery is a knockout.

The scenery is a knockout.

I think I’ve now spent more time walking in the French Alps than any other place in the world, even including the hiking I’ve done in Australia and New Zealand.

This year’s leg was six days hiking the GR5 and its variants between St Paul sur l’Ubaye and St Martin de Vesubie.

It’s still an annual highlight of my life to spend a week in the mountains with my Dutch friends.

Here’s why I keep going back there: Continue reading

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SHOOTING FRENCH ALLEYWAYS – my photography tips

TIP #1 - Colour above, and something happening below.

TIP: Colour above, and something going on below. Location: Nice (well, of course it’s a nice location. I mean the city, Nice.)


I’ve turned the camera vertically to take shots of narrow French alleyways so often during the past couple of weeks I’ve almost become an expert.

When the subject matter is so inherently appealing it’s hard to screw up, though, like most amateurs, I usually manage to do just that. Too dark, too bright, too much contrast, moving people blurring the shot, being too slow to catch the hilarious peeing dog…I made all those mistakes, often.

Every now and then I got a photo I liked. Continue reading

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Filed under France, travel photography

THE TROUBLE WE GO TO FOR ART!

It wasn't easy to get here.

It wasn’t easy to get here, so you might at least look pleased to see us!

“Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur? What do you mean, ‘Complet’? It’s taken us an hour to find the bus stop and another 45 minutes to wait for your bus to come along and now you’re saying you’re full?

How are we supposed to get to Saint-Paul if every bloody bus…Ok, d’accord, Monsieur, you only drive the damn thing. Nice beard, by the way.”

We know there often isn’t a lot of public transport into walled mediaeval villages perched on Provencal hilltops. But Saint-Paul-de-Vence isn’t just any mediaeval village. It’s now a tourist mecca, thanks to the artists, past and present, who have lived and worked there. A lot of us want to see it. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Belgium, France