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Un Tour Photographique de Roussillon (Version Française)

(Note: An English version of this post may be found at http://philhaber.com/2011/12/21/a-photographic-tour-of-roussillon/)

En octobre 2011, j’ai passé quatre semaines à Provence et la Côte d’Azur. Pendant cette période j’ai réservé une journée entière pour visiter Roussillon, un village situé dans le Luberon. Le Luberon est une  région montagneuse dans le département de Vaucluse au nord d’Aix-en-Provence. Le trajet d’Aix, òu j’avais loué un appartement, à Roussillon fait environ 60 kilomètres de long, mais on met beaucoup plus q’une heure pour y aller même par les routes les plus directes. Les routes étroites serpentent autour des collines et à travers des vallées pittoresques, et traversent d’autres villages aux coteaux, y compris Bonnieux et Lourmarin qui eux-mêmes méritent une visite d’au moins un jour.

Roussillon reste sur des dépôts énormes d’ocre rouge, orange et jaune. Les couleurs de l’ocre sont les effets d’oxydes de fer de genres variés qui y se sont déposées il y a plus de cent millions d’ans, quand la terre qui aujourd’hui constitue la Provence se trouvait au fond de la mer. En entrant dans le village, on voit en premier une grande falaise d’ocre en face du côté est du village (vous pouvez cliquer sur n’importe quelle image dans ce blog pour en voir une copie plus grande):

Ochre Cliff in Roussillon

Après une courte promenade le long du haut de cette falaise, on arrive aux carrières d’ocre, òu pendant des siècles on a miné les matériaux qu’on a utilisés pour construire les bâtiments du village. Dans les carrières on voit beaucoup de formes colorées et fantasques comme ceux-ci:

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Du haut de la falaise, il y a une vue du village d’une beauté frappante:

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Au centre du village, les couleurs de l’ocre – rouge, orange et jaune – se trouvent partout:

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Comme on voit dans beaucoup de villages en Provence, il y a ici une belle tour d’horloge ancienne:

Clock Tower of Roussillon

À l’autre côté de la tour d’horloge, j’ai pris une photo à travers l’arche d’en bas:

View Through Archway in the Clock Tower

Au fait, les couleurs de l’ocre se voient dans toutes les rues du village:

Street in Roussillon

Les portes et les volets des fenêtres montrent des couleurs qui s’accordent or contrastent avec les couleurs prédominantes de l’ocre des murs:

Façade of House in Roussillon

Door and Window in Roussillon

Doorway in Roussillon

On peut vite comprendre pourquoi le village de Roussillon est inclus sur la liste des “Plus Beaux Villages de France”. Une visite à Roussillon est une expérience inoubliable.

On peut voir d’autres photos de Roussillon et photos d’autres villages en Provence et la Côte d’Azur à mon site de web photographique, dans la galerie Provence-Côte d’Azur. Pour obtenir plus d’informations sur ma photographie, on peut visiter aussi ma page de Facebook, à http://www.facebook.com/PhilHaberPhotography.

Phil Haber

Un Voyage sur la Dordogne à Travers l’Histoire (Version Française)

(Note: An English version of this post may be found at http://philhaber.com/2013/08/23/a-voyage-through-history-on-the-dordogne/)

Récemment j’ai voyagé à la région de la Dordogne une deuxième fois – j’y avais voyagé auparavant, il y a neuf ans. Une visite à cette région (aussi appellée Périgord) est un voyage à travers l’histoire, voire à travers la préhistoire. Châteaux médiévaux ou de la Renaissance donnent sur le fleuve à plusieurs sites, et centaines d’autres châteaux se trouvent partout dans la région. Sur les rives de la Dordogne et de son affluent, la Vézère, on trouve des falaises calcaires gigantesques, qui sont percées à beaucoup de sites par des grottes qui maintes fois étaient utilisées comme abris par les riverains des villages proches pendant des périodes difficiles du Moyen Àge. Sur les murs intérieurs de quelques grottes, par exemple les grottes de Lascaux, de Rouffignac et du Font de Gaume, se trouvent des images de mammouths, de bisons, de taureaux, de chevaux, de rennes et d’autres animaux que des hommes Cro-Magnons y ont dessinées,  peintes ou gravées il y a 12.000 à 18.000 ans.

Une voiture est nécessaire pour voir toutes les choses qui méritent une visite à cette région. Mais aussi on ne devrait pas omettre une promenade à bateau sur la Dordogne. Des kayaks et des canoës sont à louer à beaucoup de sites sur les rives du fleuve. Aussi au village de Le Roque-Gageac on peut acheter un billet pour une promenade d’une heure en une Gabare Norbert, qui va de La Roque-Gageac à Castelnaud-la-Chapelle et retourne, pilotée par un capitaine qui sert aussi comme guide touristique. Les Gabares Norbert sont des répliques des bateaux à voiles et à fond plat qui portaient des marchandises sur la Dordogne et d’autres fleuves de France pendant le 18ème et le 19ème siècle. Mais ces gabares sont equipées de moteurs fiables qui vous assurent d’une promenade assez confortable. Voici une photo d’une Gabare Norbert qui va arriver à quai à La Roque-Gageac (vous pouvez cliquer sur n’importe quelle image dans ce blog pour en voir une copie plus grande):

One of the Gabares Norbert

Une Gabare Norbert

Le bateau part du quai à La Roque-Gageac, un des “Plus Beaux Villages de France,” qui d’ordinaire paraît ainsi:

La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac

(À noter: J’ai pris cette photo pendant ma première visite ici en 2004. La vue est maintenant un peu changée temporairement par un projet de construction qui a pour but d’élargir la rue qui traverse le village.)

En aval de La Roque-Gageac, la gabare passe le Château de La Malartrie, bâti en style Renaissance, qui peut être vu sur le côté gauche de la photo ci-dessus. Voici une vue du château de plus près:

Château de La Malartrie

Le Château de La Malartrie

Puis la gabare continue à glisser en aval au village de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle:

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Le Château de Castelnaud surplombe le village. Bâti pendant le 12ème siècle, ce château était un point central de la Guerre de Cent Ans (1338-1453) et était occupé par l’armée anglaise pendant la plupart de cette guerre. Voici une vue du château de plus près depuis le centre du village:

The Château de Castelnaud

Le Château de Castelnaud

Du haut du Château de Castelnaud, il y a une vue merveilleuse de la Dordogne jusqu’à le village de Beynac-et-Cazenac, que surplombe le Château de Beynac:

View of the Dordogne from the Château de Castelnaud

Vue de la Dordogne depuis le Château de Castelnaud

Le Château de Beynac était bâti pendant le 12ème siècle par les barons de Beynac, dont Richard Coeur de Lion, qui était baron de Beynac de 1189 à 1199. Ce château était un autre point central de la Guerre de Cent Ans. Situé environ trois kilomètres en aval du Château de Castelnaud et sur la rive opposée du fleuve, le Château de Beynac était occupé par l’armée française. Il se perche en haut d’une falaise imposante et surplombe cette partie du fleuve:

The Château de Beynac

Le Château de Beynac

Un peu en amont de La Roque-Gageac, perché sur une falaise qui donne sur la Dordogne, est le village de Domme, aussi un membre de la liste des “Plus Beaux Villages de France.” Au bord de la falaise, près du restaurant bien nommé “Le Belvédère,” se trouve une terrasse où il y a une vue spectaculaire du fleuve et de sa valleé:

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À Domme, j’ai acheté des belles faïences artisanales à la boutique “Les Coquelicots.”

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Les attractions spectaculaires de Périgord ne se bornent pas à celles situées aux rives du fleuve. La region est remplie de centaines de châteaux et d’autres attractions touristiques du Moyen Àge et de la Renaissance, et effectivement est appellée le “Pays de 1001 Châteaux”, y compris le Château de Puymartin. Ce château était bâti pendant le 13ème siècle, était détruit pendant la Guerre de Cent Ans, et était rebâti pendant le 15ème siècle. Des membres de la même famille ont possédé et habité le château depuis l’an 1450.

The Château de Puymartin

Le Château de Puymartin

Pas loin du Château de Puymartin se trouve la ville de Sarlat-la-Canéda, la ville principale de cette partie de Périgord. On a soigneusement conservé le centre médiéval de cette ville:

Place de la Liberté, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Place de la Liberté, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Sarlat est rempli d’histoire. Le panneau au mur de la maison dans la photo ci-dessous déclare que Étienne La Boétie est né dans cette maison le 1er Novembre 1530. La Boétie etait écrivain, diplomate, juge et créateur de la philosophie moderne française de la politique. Mais aujourd’hui il est peut-être plus fameux comme ami du philosophe Michel de Montaigne.

House of Etienne La Boétie

Maison d’Etienne La Boétie

La beauté de Sarlat ne se montre pas seulement de jour, mais aussi la nuit. Sarlat est peut être la seule ville française qui est encore illuminée pendant la nuit seulement par des lampes à gaz.

Closing Time in Sarlat

Le Soir à Sarlat

Le château le plus étrange qu’on peut trouver dans la région de la Dordogne est peut-être la Maison Forte de Reignac:

Maison Forte de Reignac

Maison Forte de Reignac

Bâtie au flanc d’une falaise calcaire proche de la Vézère, la façade cache des immenses espaces intérieurs à beaucoup de niveaux. Depuis environ l’an 1300, il était construit et occupé comme château d’un baron. Encore aujourd’hui les salles et les chambres du château sont meublées élégamment comme au 16ème siècle. Et il y a beaucoup d’évidence que le site était occupé par des gens Cro-Magnons il y a 20.000 ans, comme beaucoup d’autres sites dans cette région.

Comme on peut voir ici, le Périgord est rempli d’une quantité immense de choses belles et fascinantes à visiter et à voir. On peut voir d’autres photos de Périgord à mon site de web photographique, dans la galerie Dordogne. Pour obtenir plus d’informations sur ma photographie, on peut visiter aussi ma page photographique de Facebook, à http://www.facebook.com/PhilHaberPhotography.

Phil Haber

A Voyage Through History on the Dordogne (English Version)

(À noter: Une version française de cet article se trouve à http://philhaber.com/2013/10/01/un-voyage-a-travers-lhistoire-sur-la-dordogne-version-francaise/.)

Recently I traveled to the Dordogne region for a second time, the first having been nearly ten years ago. A visit to this area (also known as Périgord) is a voyage through history and even prehistory. Medieval and Renaissance castles look down on the river at several points, while literally hundred of others dot the region. The Dordogne and its tributary, the Vézère, are lined in many areas with towering limestone cliffs honeycombed with caves that often provided shelter for village residents during tumultuous periods of the Middle Ages. Some of these caves, such as those at Lascaux, Rouffignac and the Font de Gaume, contain pictures of animals such as woolly mammoths, bison, bulls, horses and reindeer that were drawn, painted or carved onto the interior walls by Cro-Magnon people 12,000 to 18,000 years ago.

While an automobile is a necessity to get to everything worth seeing in this area, one should not miss an opportunity to ride down the Dordogne itself on a boat. Kayaks and canoes can be rented at many locations along the banks of the river. In addition, at the village of La Roque-Gageac, you can book a one-hour ride on a Gabare Norbert, which will take you down the river to Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and back, with a captain who doubles as a tour guide. The Gabares Norbert are replicas of the flat-bottomed sailboats that were used during the 18th and 19th centuries to transport goods along the Dordogne and other rivers in France. These gabares, however, are fitted out with motors that assure and smooth and reliable ride. Here is a photo of a Gabare Norbert about to arrive back in the dock at La Roque-Gageac (you may click on any photo in this article to see a larger version):

One of the Gabares Norbert

One of the Gabares Norbert

The boat leaves from La Roque-Gageac, one of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France,” which usually looks like this:

La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac

[Note: This photo was taken during my previous visit in 2004. The view has now been temporarily altered by a construction project that is widening the road through the village.]

On the way downstream from La Roque-Gageac, the Gabare Norbert glides past the Renaissance-style Château de La Malartrie, seen on the left side of the photo above. Here is a closer view of the château:

Château de La Malartrie

Château de La Malartrie

The Gabare Norbert then continues downstream to the village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle:

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

The village is dominated by the Château de Castelnaud. Built in the 12th century, this castle was a focal point of the Hundred Years War (1338-1453), during most of which it was occupied by English forces. Here is a closer view of the castle from inside the village itself:

The Château de Castelnaud

The Château de Castelnaud

From the top of the Château de Castelnaud, there is a marvelous view down the Dordogne to the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac, which is dominated by the Château de Beynac:

View of the Dordogne from the Château de Castelnaud

View of the Dordogne from the Château de Castelnaud

The Château de Beynac was built during the 12th century by the barons of Beynac, one of whom, during the period 1189-1199, was Richard the Lionheart. The château was another focal point of the Hundred Years War. Located about two miles downstream from the Château de Castelnaud and on the other side of the river, the Château de Beynac was occupied by the French. It is perched on top of a towering cliff and dominates its section of the river:

The Château de Beynac

The Château de Beynac

A short distance upstream from La Roque-Gageac is the village of Domme, perched at the top of a cliff overlooking the Dordogne, also a member of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France.” At the edge of the cliff, close to the appropriately named restaurant “Le Belvédère,” is a terrace from which there is a spectacular view of the river and its valley:

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In Domme, I purchased some beautiful hand-made pieces of faïence at the boutique “Les Coquelicots.”

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The spectacular sights in the Dordogne region are not by any means limited to the banks of the river itself. The area is filled with hundreds of castles and other medieval and Renaissance sights, and in fact is popularly known as the “Land of 1,001 Castles.” One of these is the Château de Puymartin. Built during the 13th century, the castle was destroyed during the Hundred Years War and rebuilt in the 15th century. It has been owned and occupied by descendants of the same family since 1450.

The Château de Puymartin

The Château de Puymartin

Nearby is the town of Sarlat-la-Canéda, the principal town in this area. The medieval center of this town has been carefully preserved:

Place de la Liberté, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Place de la Liberté, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Sarlat is full of history. The sign on the house shown in this photo states that Etienne La Boétie was born here in 1530. La Boétie was a writer, diplomat, judge and a founder of modern French political philosophy, but is probably best known today as the famous friend of the philosopher Michel de Montaigne.

House of Etienne La Boétie

House of Etienne La Boétie

Sarlat’s beauty is not limited to daytime. At night, Sarlat is perhaps the only French town still lit entirely by gas lamps:

Closing Time in Sarlat

Closing Time in Sarlat

Perhaps the strangest of all the castles one can find in the Dordogne region is the Maison Forte de Reignac:

Maison Forte de Reignac

Maison Forte de Reignac

Built into the side of a limestone cliff close to the Vézère River, the façade hides vast interior spaces on multiple levels. Beginning about 700 years ago, it was constructed and occupied as a baronial castle, and its many rooms are today still beautifully outfitted with period furniture and furnishings. But there is also copious evidence that the site was occupied by Cro-Magnon people 20,000 years ago, like many other sites in this area.

As you can see, the Dordogne region is filled with an almost inexhaustible supply of beautiful and fascinating things to see and to do. You can find many other photos from the region in the Dordogne Gallery of my photography website. For further information about my photography, please also see my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PhilHaberPhotography.

Phil Haber

Un Tour Photographique de Saint-Paul-de-Vence (Version Française)

(Note: An English version of this blog may be found at http://philhaber.com/2013/01/18/a-photographic-tour-of-saint-paul-de-vence.)

Moi et ma femme, nous avons passé une semaine heureuse à Saint-Paul-de-Vence vers la fin d’octobre 2011. Saint-Paul-de-Vence est un village médiéval situé au sommet d’une colline, aux contreforts des Alpes maritimes environ une demi-heure par voiture au nord-ouest de Nice. Le village est spectaculaire et bien conservé. On peut trouver des mentions du village dans des documents officiels à partir de l’onzième siècle. Le village etait fortifié pour la première fois au treizième siècle, et une deuxième muraille défensive, qui est encore presque entièrement intacte, etait construite pendant le seizième siècle sur la commande du roi François I après une visite royale au village.

Aujourd’hui Saint-Paul est presque entièrement consacré à la création, l’exposition et la vente des beaux-arts. Pendant les mois d’été, il est plein de touristes, mais vers la fin d’octobre il était beaucoup plus calme. En fait, au temps de notre arriveé, le restaurant fameux de La Colombe d’Or, dont les murs intérieurs sont pleins de tableaux des grands peintres, était sur le point d’être fermé pour plusieurs mois parce que c’était la fin de la saison. Nous avions voulu retourner à Saint-Paul-de-Vence depuis que, quelques ans plus tôt, nous étions restés au Château du Domaine Saint Martin, qui est situé à Vence, plus haut aux montagnes que Saint-Paul. En allant de Vence à l’aéroport de Nice, nous avions passé Saint-Paul et avions aperçu la vue extraordinaire du village qu’on peut voir depuis la Route de la Colle. J’avais voué qu’un jour je retournerais là et que je prendrais alors une photo de cette belle vue. Cette fois-ci nous avions décidé à rester à Le Hameau, un charmant hôtel situé sur la Route de la Colle aux environs de Saint-Paul.

Nous sommes arrivés à l’hôtel vers la fin de l’après-midi et, après que je nous y avais enregistrés, j’ai ramassé mon appareil photo et trépied et me suis dirigé à la Route de la Colle. Depuis cette route, on peut voir une vue imprenable du côté ouest de Saint-Paul en entier, y compris les murs fortifiés du village, qui étaient construits pendant le 16ème siècle sur commande de François Ier. Voice le village, illuminé par des rayons rougeâtres du soleil couchant (vous pouvez cliquer sur n’importe quelle image dans ce blog pour en voir une copie plus grande):

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À mon retour à Le Hameau, j’ai erré pendant quelque temps au travers les jardins et passages de ce bel hôtel:

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De Le Hameau, on ne mettait que 10 minutes pour marcher le long de la Route de la Colle à l’entrée du village de Saint-Paul. Donc je pouvais arriver au village tous les matins avant le lever du soleil pour prendre des photos de ses rues, ses bâtiments et ses cours, tous si beaux et bien préservés, dans la lumière du petit matin et sans piétons et voitures. Après qu’on entre dans le village par son extrémité nord, on passe le restaurant Le Colombe d’Or et puis on entre dans la Rue Grande, qui s’étend sur presque toute la longueur du village du nord au sud, en passant sous des arches anciennes. Les côtés de cette rue sont parsemés d’ateliers et de galeries d’art:

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Dans le centre du village, un peu loin de la Rue Grande, se trouve la Place de la Grande Fontaine. Dans le 17ème siècle, cette place était le centre de l’activité sociale et commerciale du village et le site d’un marché hebdomadaire:

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Un peu plus loin vers le sud, il y a une cour charmante qui s’appelle “La Placette” et qui contient une petite fontaine:

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Un matin, quand je suis arrivé à l’extrémité sud de la Rue Grande, les rayons du soleil levant illuminaient les toits des bâtiments:

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Depuis les remparts du côté est du village, il y a une vue magnifique sur les Alpes maritimes au nord:

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L’ancien cimetière de Saint Paul est situé à l’extrémité sud du village, en dehors de la muraille. Entre les tombes qui y se trouvent est celle de Marc Chagall, qui habitait au village de 1966 jusqu’à sa mort en 1985. Sa tombe est un bloc simple de pierre rectangulaire, dont le dessus est jonché de petites pierres dans l’ancienne tradition juive. Les surfaces de beaucoup de ces pierres montrent des hommages écrits à la main au grand maître.

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La population de Saint-Paul comprend moins que trois mille habitants. Avec ses nombreux ateliers, galeries d’art, boutiques, hôtels, églises et restaurants, on pourrait en conclure que le village n’aurait pas beaucoup d’espace pour des habitations. Mais il y a des exemples frappants d’architecture médiévale parmi les maisons qu’on voit là:

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Vraiment, il y a de belles vues dans presque tous les coins de Saint-Paul:

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Comme on peut voir, une visite à Saint-Paul-de-Vence est un impératif pour chaque personne qui voyage à la Côte d’Azur.

On peut voir d’autres photos de Saint-Paul-de-Vence et photos d’autres villages en Provence et la Côte d’Azur à mon site de web photographique, dans la galerie Provence-Côte d’Azur. Pour obtenir plus d’informations sur ma photographie, on peut visiter aussi ma page photographique de Facebook, à http://www.facebook.com/PhilHaberPhotography.

Phil Haber

A Photographic Tour of Saint-Paul-de-Vence (English Version)

(À noter: Une version française de ce blog se trouve à http://philhaber.com/2013/03/29/un-tour-photographique-de-saint-paul-de-vence-version-francaise/.)

My wife and I spent a week in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in late October, 2011. Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a spectacular and well-preserved medieval hill town, located in the foothills of the Maritime Alps, about a half hour’s drive northwest of Nice. It is mentioned in official records as early as the 11th century, and was first fortified in the 13th century. A second defensive wall, still almost entirely intact today, was built in the 16th century, upon the order of King François I following a royal visit to the town.

Today Saint-Paul is almost entirely devoted to the creation, exhibition and sale of fine art. During the summer months, the town is extremely crowded with tourists, but by late October it was much quieter. In fact, at the time we arrived, the famously art-studded restaurant La Colombe d’Or, located at the northern entrance to the town, was in the process of closing for the season. We had wanted to return to Saint-Paul-de-Vence ever since, some years earlier, we had stayed in the town of Vence — further up in the mountains — and on the way down to the Nice airport had spotted the striking view of Saint-Paul that is visible from the Route de la Colle. I had vowed then that I would some day return and take a photo of that beautiful view of the village. This time we had decided to stay at Le Hameau, a charming hotel on the Route de la Colle just outside Saint-Paul.

We arrived late in the afternoon and, after checking in at Le Hameau, I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed out to the Route de la Colle. From the road, there is a completely unobstructed view of the entire western side of the village, complete with its fortified walls built in the 16th century on the orders of King François I.  Here it is, illuminated by a reddish sun about a half hour before sunset (click on any image in this posting to see a larger version):

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Back at Le Hameau, I took the time to wander through the semi-enclosed outdoor corridors of this beautiful hotel:

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From Le Hameau, it was only a 10-minute walk up the Route de la Colle to the entrance to Saint-Paul-de-Vence. I could thus be in the town before dawn every morning to get shots of its beautiful and marvelously preserved streets, buildings and courtyards, at first light and without interference from cars and pedestrians. After entering the town from the north, past La Colombe d’Or, you enter the Rue Grande, which runs nearly the entire length of the village from north to south. The Rue Grande passes under centuries-old archways and is lined with many art galleries and studios:

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In the center of the village, off the Rue Grande, is the Place de la Grande Fontaine, which was the center of activity and the scene of a weekly market during the 17th century:

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A little further to the south is a charming courtyard with a smaller fountain, known as “La Placette”:

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One morning, as I reached the southern end of Rue Grande, the rising sun was just illuminating the tops of the buildings:

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From the eastern ramparts of the town, there is a wonderful view of the Maritime Alps to the north:

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The old cemetery of Saint Paul lies at the southern end of the town, outside the village walls. Among the tombs one can find that of Marc Chagall, who lived in Saint Paul from 1966 until his death in 1985. The top of the tomb is strewn with small stones in the ancient Jewish tradition, several inscribed with loving tributes to the great master.

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Today, Saint-Paul-de-Vence has a permanent population of only about 3,000. With its many art galleries, studios, shops, hotels and restaurants, the town would not seem to have a lot of room for residences. Yet there are numerous examples of striking medieval architecture in the houses that one does see:

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In fact, there is a beautiful sight around just about every corner:

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As you can see, a stop in Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a must for anyone visiting the Côte d’Azur.

Other photos of Saint-Paul-de-Vence and of other villages in Provence and the Côte d’Azur are available on my photo website, in the gallery Provence-Côte d’Azur.  For additional information about my photography, please see my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PhilHaberPhotography.

Phil Haber

Birds of Hawaii – A Photographic Essay

During February and March of 2012, I spent several weeks on the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Kauai, photographing their spectacular landscapes, flora and fauna. Of particular interest are Hawaii’s birds, which include many species that are rarely if ever seen in other parts of the United States. Perhaps the best location to view unusual birds is the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, on the north shore of Kauai several miles east of the resort town of Princeville. Kilauea Point is a high promontory that juts out into the Pacific Ocean, at the end of which is a lighthouse:

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Looking east from Kilauea Point, you can see rugged cliffs characteristic of the coastline of Kauai, which serve as nesting sites for hundreds of large seabirds:

A visit to the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is an experience not to be missed by any lover of the natural world and its wildlife. The seabirds that can be seen at the refuge include Laysan albatrosses, red-footed boobies, brown boobies, red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbirds, great frigatebirds, and wedge-tailed shearwaters. The most numerous are the red-footed boobies, which nest by the hundreds on the neighboring cliffs. At the time of my visit to the refuge in March, the red-footed boobies were busy gathering materials to build nests, tearing out pieces of vegetation from the perimeter of Kilauea Point and flying off with them to the opposing cliffs. Here is a red-footed booby (Sula sula) about to grab an attractive piece of vine:

Up in the sky, they could be seen in full flight with their nest-building materials:

Red-footed boobies were also visible perched in nearby trees — note the distinctive red webbed feet and blue bill:

Here is another shot of a red-footed booby in flight:

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Another seabird often seen flying by at Kilauea Point is the Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis):

And hovering overhead in a strong wind are red-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon rubricauda):

In this shot, I caught a red-tailed tropicbird on a rapid fly-by:

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And here is another resident of the area: a great frigatebird (Fregata minor). These birds have a wingspan of as much as eight feet:

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Numerous cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis) may be seen strutting on the ground at the refuge, as well as in many other locations in Hawaii:

These photos present just a small sample of the wonders available for viewing at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Apart from the amazing birds, you may also spot breaching humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, and rare monk seals (only 1,200 left on earth).

Other photos of Hawaii’s birds, as well as landscapes and other Hawaiian sights, may be seen in the Hawaii Gallery on my photo website.  For additional information about my photography, please see my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PhilHaberPhotography.

Phil Haber

In the Footsteps of Van Gogh

One of the goals of my month spent in Provence and the Côte d’Azur was to visit and photograph sites that were important to the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh is today, of course, one of the most admired artists of the late nineteenth century. His art and his tortured life are the subject of a large number of books, articles and films, including Irving Stone’s 1934 biographical novel, “Lust for Life,” the 1956 movie of the same name based on the novel, and, most recently, an exhaustively detailed biography, “Van Gogh, The Life,” by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (Random House, October 2011). Despite the fact that van Gogh’s artistic career spanned only a little more than ten years, his output was prodigious, comprising about 2,000 paintings, drawings and other works. He is most celebrated for the landscapes, portraits and still lifes he completed during the last five years of his life. These include “The Starry Night,” paintings of sunflowers and other flowers, trees and gardens, self-portraits, and portraits of “L’Arlésienne” (Madame Ginoux), of the postman Joseph Roulin and his wife, of Dr. Paul Gachet, and of other persons with whom he came in contact during these years.

Throughout his life, van Gogh suffered from serious mental and physical illnesses, including a form of epilepsy (as diagnosed by doctors at the time) and syphilis. He also suffered from an extremely excitable, irascible and seemingly bipolar personality that put him constantly at odds with nearly everyone with whom he came in contact, including his parents and other family members, employers and business associates, fellow artists and members of any community he inhabited. During his lifetime he sold only one painting, despite his younger brother Theo’s position as a mid-level manager at one of Europe’s most prominent art dealers. Theo in fact supported him financially during his entire career as an artist. His work was generally considered unsalable and received little notice until the publication in January 1890 (about six months before his death) of a highly favorable article in the magazine Mercure de France by the young critic Albert Aurier. Van Gogh’s late work has been variously characterized as Post-Impressionist, Symbolist and Cloisonnist, but remains distinctly recognizable as his own unique style.

In February, 1888, after living with his brother in Paris for two years, van Gogh moved to Arles and eventually established his residence and a studio there in the famous “Yellow House” at 2, Place Lamartine (unfortunately destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II). The period of van Gogh’s residence in Arles, from February, 1888 until May, 1889, saw the creation of many of his most well-known paintings. The Office of Tourism in Arles offers a free map of the city showing the locations where ten of these paintings were done. At each of these locations, a reproduction of the work painted there is set up on a post at approximately the location where van Gogh is thought to have stood as he painted. Of course, some of the locations van Gogh painted no longer exist, such as the Yellow House, or look quite different today than they did when he painted them more than 120 years ago. However, several are still quite recognizable. My first stop after arriving in Arles was at the site of van Gogh’s 1888 oil painting, “The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, at Night.” This is the van Gogh painting:

The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, 1888, oil on canvas

Here is my photo of this location as it looks today, during the daytime, from approximately the same perspective:

In October, 1888, van Gogh painted this image of the entrance to the Trinquetaille Bridge, which spans the Rhone River at Arles:

The Trinquetaille Bridge, 1888, oil on canvas

Here is that location as it appears today:

One must admit that the appearance of this site is not improved by the addition of a parked car, graffiti and trash bin.

After months of entreaties from van Gogh, the artist Paul Gauguin joined him at the Yellow House in late October, 1888, and the two spent several weeks living and working together. It had long been a dream of van Gogh to form an artistic movement with Gauguin and other artists he hoped to attract to Arles. However, his relationships with other artists frequently ended with violent disagreements, and Gauguin was no exception. After a number of clashes between them, Gauguin walked out of the Yellow House on December 23. Apparently thinking that Gauguin was leaving for good, van Gogh initially ran after him. According to some accounts, van Gogh threatened Gauguin in a park with a straight razor, but Naifeh and Smith state (p. 702) that he simply gave Gauguin a newspaper article containing the words “Le meurtrier a pris la fuite” (the murderer has fled). In any event, it is undisputed that, when van Gogh returned to the Yellow House, he had an attack of some sort, cut off part of his ear with a razor, wrapped the severed flesh in a piece of newspaper and delivered it to a nearby brothel with instructions to give it to a prostitute named Rachel. There followed several months during which van Gogh alternated between a hospital in Arles and the Yellow House, until the police, upon the petition of about 30 neighbors, padlocked the door of the Yellow House in order to prevent him from returning there.

In May, 1889, van Gogh voluntarily committed himself to the asylum of Saint Paul de Mausole, located about a mile south of Saint Rémy-de-Provence at the base of the Alpilles mountain range. The asylum, a former monastery, derives its name from the nearby Mausoleum of the Julii, built about 30 BC by three Julii brothers in honor of their father, who had been granted Roman citizenship and the right to use the name “Julii” in return for his military or civil service to Rome. The mausoleum today remains in remarkably good condition:

Between the Mausoleum and the asylum lies the ancient Gallo-Roman town of Glanum, which has been under excavation since 1921. From the grounds of that site, I took this photo of the Mont Gaussier, which is part of the Alpilles range:

During his more lucid moments, van Gogh was permitted to leave the grounds of the asylum to paint. In a number of his paintings of that period, the above landscape is clearly visible, for example:

Le Mont Gaussier with the Mas de Saint Paul, 1889, oil on canvas

A Meadow in the Mountains, 1889, oil on canvas

Mountains at Saint Rémy with Dark Cottage, 1889, oil on canvas

Olive Trees in a Mountainous Landscape, 1889, oil on canvas

The Alpilles also appear in the background of van Gogh’s most famous painting, “The Starry Night,” likewise painted during this period. Regrettably, the wheat fields and olive groves so beautifully painted by van Gogh during his stay at Saint Paul de Mausole have since fallen victim to extensive residential construction in the vicinity of Saint Rémy.

As is generally known, Van Gogh died of a gunshot wound in the abdomen in July, 1890, while living in Auvers-sur-Oise under the care of Dr. Gachet. While popular accounts have attributed his death to suicide, Naifeh and Smith present substantial evidence that the shot may have been fired by someone else, possibly accidentally. See “Appendix: A Note on Vincent’s Fatal Wounding,” pp. 869 et seq.

Please note that the photographs shown in this posting are low resolution copies of the originals. For full resolution copies of these and other photos of Arles, Saint Rémy-de-Provence and other towns and villages in Provence, please visit the gallery Provence-Côte d’Azur on my photography website, Phil Haber Photography, where signed prints of these photos may be purchased.  For additional information about my photography, please see my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PhilHaberPhotography.

Phil Haber

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