Category Archives: France

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Relic

Some relics we hate to see go because they remind us of a time when things moved at a slower pace and we didn’t feel so rushed.  Others are better at adding ‘character’ to fields and yards.  Those are probably best left where they are found.  Some become monuments leaving us in awe and wonderment.  And finally some remind us of a past taken from storybook pages.

The Unexpected

Imagine being on a river cruise and getting stuck for 3 days in one location because the river is flooding.  And it’s in the fall!  That’s exactly what happened to us on our Rhone River cruise a couple of years ago.  The Rhone River flow was far above the level to close the locks, thereby bringing all river traffic to a halt.  One morning when we got up there was this tree lodged against the bow of the ship.

All luck, or Mr. Murphy would have it, we were anchored by the smallest town on the cruise.  Of course this town had no services either.  So we were stuck making the best of it with lots of wine.  Sometimes there are unexpected benefits on a wine cruise.  Once the tree was removed a day later we continued our journey.

The Unexpected

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Leaves and Trees

Choosing these two photos for the challenge was an easy choice for me.  I believe I may actually have a unique photo from one of the most photographed monuments in the world.  If anyone has seen an Eiffel Tower photo that is similar to this one, I would appreciate hearing from you and possible a link if you have one.   Until then I’m claiming a unique shot of the Eiffel Tower.  The other photo is a pathway to the Louvre.  Paris is a wonderful place to visit in the fall.  I hope you enjoy two of my finest photographs.  Cheers, Wooly.

Lemons and Lemonade

In Arles, France and there was a ‘must see’ on Wooly’s list.  In Arles the Roman Amphitheater is still used and considered one of the best preserved in the world.  Les Alyscamps is a beautiful resting place for those who have passed on.  One can picture themselves watching a production played out in the Greek styled Theatre Antique.   Delicious meals in restaurants and narrow cobblestone streets shaded by gigantic sycamore trees appealed to us.  Yes, we saw, tasted and experienced those but the list still had one place to check off.

Wooly prefers Impressionist art and Monet is probably his favorite artist.  However, Monet doesn’t have a foundation in Arles – Van Gogh does.  And that was ‘The’ place.  Hoping for some great shots Wooly was faced with shooting around photography students.  To be honest Wooly was expecting more than atypical souvenir stands and was a bit disappointed but from the lemons came these photos.

I’ve found the places you dream of seeing may often disappoint but if you keep looking you can almost always find a great shot.  While annoyed with photographer students getting in the way of my shots I took one of the best photos of the trip.  What as the subject?  Why of course it was one of the photographers.  Irony plays a key role in Wooly’s life.

Enjoy the slideshow.

Sorting, sorting, sorting…

SONY DSCThree thousand, three hundred and eighty five. Some are really bad and some very good. Those two types are easy to spot. It’s the others that require real effort. Sorting would be easy if it wasn’t for those that aren’t obviously great or bad. That’s the problem Raeski and I have after shooting so many photos during our trip. I have no idea how many photos we deleted immediately after taking them or not liking the results when reviewing them in the evening. My guess is we took over 4,000 photos in all.

SONY DSCIt was different back in the day of film. You probably were more selective about the photos you took because you knew there were development costs when you got home. However with digital cost isn’t a consideration and you take as many shots as you like. If you don’t like something delete it. No harm, no foul.

But this leads to a question I’ve had since the advent of digital photography. Did film photographers get those magnificent photos because they were always thinking of composition? Were those photos a result of more planning? Or does digital allow a person to advance their craft faster because they can see the results instantly and make adjustments? Does the digital photographer eventually arrive at the same destination as the film photographer when it comes to planning the composition of a shot?

Or, perhaps with digital we take more shots because we have the freedom to experiment without the concerns of development costs. Instead of taking one great shot we experiment with different angles and exposures. Then we pick out the better shots and toss the rest. But I’ve read that’s precisely what film photographers did.

I come to the conclusion that anyone who has a serious case of the photography bug takes a lot of photos and they sort and sort and sort. Some shots we love and others force us to think about the composition. Eventually we all move beyond the, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally” stage and arrive at the place where great photos are the result of experience and planning regardless of the media we choose. – W

About those French People

In the US one hears a lot about French attitudes and rudeness. Personally I haven’t seen it. I’ve been told the people in Southern France are nicer than those in the Northern part. Again I haven’t seen a difference. I’ve also been told it’s the only those who live in Paris that are rude. You know, big city, people in a rush and generally rude. Actually I can spot this more in large American cities than in Paris.

So what’s the deal? Where’s the disconnect? Am I just lucky or could it be our own attitudes coloring what I must call a myth? I’ve found a smile and a ‘merci’ goes a long ways. I try to utilize as much as possible my very (VERY!) limited vocabulary of French words and have found an amazing number of French people that know English. Maybe it’s because I’m trying or possibly they don’t want to hear their language mangled anymore, but for the most part the French have been very kind and gracious.

Take any large American city and ask yourself how often someone will without being asked try to help direct you to where you want to go? When was the last time you saw someone step out of a restaurant to take a cell phone call? Or step in when a con-artist is bugging you. Heck, they even stop for jaywalking pedestrians without complaint.

And now I find myself wondering what foreign visitors have to say about us Americans in the USA. – W

Eiffel Tower Thoughts

Wooly at the Eiffel Tower

It’s big, it’s tall, it dominates the landscape, and best of all it’s not another religious edifice. It was not put on the highest point dominating the city as a show of power by the church over the people. Better yet, it was built purely for enjoyment of those attending the 1889 World’s Fair. It ranks as the most visited paid-for site in the world. But most importantly, it is the symbol people most associate with Paris.

On a clear day you see it towering over the city. On a typical fall day you see it disappearing into the fog. But you always know it’s there and find yourself looking for it. By night it is lit and searchlights scan across the sky from the top. And on the hour it sparkles brilliantly in a 5 minute show of splendor and 20,000 flash bulbs.

The tower has a fascinating history. At one time it was almost torn down. It withstood Hitler’s invasion and plans to destroy it as the Germans were losing the war. There’s a lot of information about it; even some of it is even interesting to the non-engineer types.

To me it is the symbol that best represents the Paris and France today. Not one of the religious excesses of the past but a secular monument that displays France’s humanist freedoms. W


For years I never gave it much thought. It was just part of the landscape. That is until I took up photography. Now everywhere I go I find it. Gaudi churches? It’s there. Roman coliseums? There too. If there is a photogenic landmark you can almost be sure you will find scaffolding.

Finding bleachers inside the coliseum at Arle took me by surprise. 10 days later I almost expect to find scaffolding in front of any shot I would want to take. You have to be really creative to keep it out of your shots.  I’ve ended up taking tight shots to cut it out.

But it has given me an idea. I’m thinking of doing a series of photographs that pair my best shots with ones that include the scaffolding. Call it truth in images. People then could know there are shots to be found but they have to deal with the scaffolding. Or maybe it could be considered a service to the casual tourist who doesn’t expect it.

I only wish I had thought of it earlier. But as I work my way around Paris I will think of doing this. So what do you think? Should I shoot the scaffolding?

Stuck in a flood

When a river goes starts to flood, what happens to all the cruise boats on the river? A lot of rain fell in northern France in areas that drain into the Rhone and its tributaries. When the cruise started the flow rate of the river was 2,000 cubic meters per second. After all the rain fell it went up to 4,000cms. Unfortunately when the flow rate exceeds 3,000cms navigation on the river is halted and the locks are closed. And the boats? They stay in whatever city or town they stopped at and we’re left with a painfully slow internet connection that makes it impossible to update a blog. No wifi cafe in Viviere.

In our case the town was Viviere; a town without much. 25% of its buildings are inhabited, the rest crumbling and empty. A great town for a ghost tour but not much else. In a town of minimal population and street lights the upside is that the Milky Way stands out and the stars are bright. This was an unexpected treat. For three nights the river kept us here. That and watching trees floating by in the river was the only entertainment that was found outside of the boat.

However our tours continued as scheduled. AMA Waterways was very proficient at re-arranging the tours and having buses pick us up and take us to our destinations. While the drive to the locations may have been a bit longer we did get to see more of the French countryside. We still got to taste wine and see the sights. And each night we had fantastic meals.

After the third night of being stuck in Viviere, the river was opened to navigation and we were able to move on. Of course that was after the tree that was lodged on the bow of the boat was removed. The boat sailed all night and when we woke up we were in Lyon with one last day of touring before our next part of our trip begins.

It’s a good thing we’re walking a lot

So far we have yet to mention any of our dining out experiences. So far it has been positive in both Spain and France. Yes, for those of you who know, we haven’t been blessed with any hot dog pizzas. 🙂

Our first dinner in Arle was especially good. On the recommendation of our hotel manager we went to a place called “Le 16”. This is one of those “must eat there” places. We arrived there in the “geezer” hour at 8pm. This turned out to be a good thing because by 8:30 all the tables were filled.

Like most restaurants here, it is fairly small and could possibly seat 30. You definitely are cozy and close to your neighbor so be kind. Another delightful thing we discovered was that when a cell phone rings people excuse themselves and go outside to talk. Yes, the French in Southern France are very polite.

But back to dinner. Raeski started with salad and I had mushroom soup. I thought I got the better dish but I’m not a huge salad guy. For the main course Raeski had white fish in white sauce and I had rabbit. Both were delicious and beautifully presented. For dessert Raeski had profiteroles drowning in dark chocolate sauce and I had a thick chocolate ganache with cream sauce and a raspberry and orange sauce on the side. All dishes were something to write home about and even better than grandma’s cooking.

And yes, it’s a good thing we’re getting our 10,000 steps in. (More likely 20,000) But in all that walking we thoroughly explore the places we want to see. And if we miss something we have a reason to come back. And yes, we have reasons to return to both Barcelona and Arle. Time to board the ship now for the next part of our trip.  – au revoir