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En Pays Villefranchois: photo essay (part one)

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En Pays Villefranchois: photo essay (part one)

Old Jun 25th, 2020, 09:40 AM
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I feel that we are going to see bricks.

(Ah, the photos appeared at the same moment I posted that!)
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 03:15 PM
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So creative (and entertaining!)

Obviously the charming facades and bridges are beautifully shot, but love how you make shadows and still life and reflections so interesting.
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 01:16 PM
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Petanque poster in Capdenac-Le-Haut, an easy daytrip from Figeac. (following fotos are Capdenac).

Capdenac-Le-Haut ('on high') is all about the views on both of its sides. Le Gare is shown below in less-attractive Capdenac town.

Quaint house.

Morning dew.

Distant view way below, from Pl. Sully.

Morning mist borders hamlet below.

Display at local 'Jardin de 1,001 Pattes'.

This house was 110 metres up on the cliff edge.

The Lot River was utilized by Julius Caesar in 51 BC to lay siege to what was then the Gallic hill-fort town 'Uxellodunum', now Capdenac-le-Haut. Caesar eventually quashed the local revolt there and captured the proud Gaulish leader.

Berries and leaves on delicate fence.

Unique reflection of stained glass in little church St. Jean Baptiste. We will be submitting this image to Pink Floyd for use as their next album cover.

Entry to the modest and sensible 'Jardin Medieval Cinq Sens'.

The organic soap-maker's shop.

Sunrise...and a new day breaking through..."

Last edited by zebec; Jun 26th, 2020 at 01:26 PM.
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 02:18 PM
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Et maintenant Faycelles, un autre daytrip tres facile de Figeac (fee-jawk).

Faycelles is a tiny town with wonderful rural views on both sides. Those 'pelerins' who do the Pilgrimage Walk often pass through on route GR 65. I collected the body of a pretty blonde moth there and placed it into our trip journal.

Shells ('concas' in Occitain) are the symbols of this trail.

Mayor Alec du Grabertitz and his bodyguard came cycling through.

Cabane shepherd's hut.

Village entry @ Pl. de la Porte Haute. The house in the middle was where the celebrated Egyptologist and local hero Champollion lived.

Stone, stone, stone throughout the entire region.

We saw very few local inhabitants.

Rural ropes in a area of cows and mules.

What a lovely place for locals to unwind with a walk after work, Faycelle's bucolic meeting of the Cele and Lot valleys.

The 11C Abbey.

Dairy farmer's old barn.

Local flora.

At the village cemetery.

Tail of Aubrac cow.

Village vista during golden hour.

The area is known for its walnuts.

There seemed to be very few modern structures in the village. Our kinda place.


Faycelles has but one restaurant and its website cannot be trusted regarding opening hours---phone ahead.

Still life urn handle.

Pair of weird fungi? on grape vine branch.

An octogenarian invited us to tour her private yard

and its vines.

Humourous motif for the area.

Did I mention stones?

Last edited by zebec; Jun 26th, 2020 at 02:22 PM.
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 11:16 PM
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Don't you wish that you could vaporize some of those cars when you take photos of old cobbled streets? I do.
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Old Jun 27th, 2020, 09:06 AM
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Yes Kerouac, I know what you mean. Actually, part of my workflow is to use Adobe LightRoom (aka PhotoShop for Idiots) to carefully remove unsightly objects from images. Power cables, posters, satellite dishes and skylights are among the things that I regularly 'vaporize' in order to preserve the visual illusion of 'Ye Olde'. Cars too. Mind you, there are times when I very deliberately use car surfaces as reflective devices (cue the Albi Gare sunrise shot above) or to break up a certain stony sameness, as in the photo including the red auto at Faycelles' entry.

Next up: Belcastel, then Figeac.
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Old Jun 27th, 2020, 10:20 AM
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The rural drive to Belcastel (bell-kastell) is part of the charm.

Wood U plz cum this way for the rest of the fotos?

A local Laguiole cheese knife.

I pity the foolish foodie that comes to Belcastel and chooses not to dine @ Vieux du Pont restaurant. Ce n'est-pas possible. Stay a couple nights, as we did, at their hotel across the bridge. This is your French food fantasy, mes amis. Incroyable! Satisfaction guaranteed.

Les deux fromage sur le pont.

View down to Aveyron River.

"I will grab you by the hair and force your face to GOD!!"

Heidi Leigh and her husband have bought the iconic castle and turned part of it into a musee cum contemporary art gallery, linked to their NY art shop.

The spider asked for a tip after I took this shot, "Icit monsieur le photographer! Je vous demande un petit cadeau." This is the unique 15C altar midway across the bridge built by Alzias Saunhac.

The motif bridge provides shutterbugs with ample foto ops.

Sunrise. A pair of Great White Duc hibous had their nest nearby the church. Their huge flapping wings sounded like tent flaps.

Uncle Festus' couch in Reno after he blew the family savings on the ponies.

Local artiste Pierre Prevost has created a series of whimsical, painted metal bird-scarecrows that he calls 'zozlos'.

Picturesque Belcastel was the scene for a 1987 period piece movie.

Overly prettified? Perhaps. But still for non-Europeans, 'a magic that a name would stain.'

What a setting for a picnic.

Golden hour sets upon Belcastel.

River reflection.

The Chateau has picturesque vistas both round

and square.

Note the remoteness of Belcastel. Tokyo tourists have naively asked the hotel to ring them up a taxi forthwith. Doesn't work that way here.

The village is the very definition of 'photogenic'. An artist's paradise for painters and sketchers.

View from the distant hike location 'Chaises du Seigneur', where ancient seats were carved into the rock.

*this is the part where you play the Beatles classic 'The Two of Us'.
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Old Jun 27th, 2020, 12:52 PM
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Again thank you and also to Mrs. Z for some stunning photos...so many tell a story which is key to great photography. If you could share what you shoot with I would be interested...I realize it is more about the eye of the photographer but curious. Thanks.
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Old Jun 27th, 2020, 01:14 PM
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Hi Lois. We both shoot using Nikon D7000 cameras. Before that, it was various other Nikons. Mrs Z has taught me all that I know about Photography, no small task given my notorious tech shortcomings. The aforementioned software program Adobe 'LightRoom' plays a role in what we produce, as does that same company's more-complicated 'PhotoShop'. The latter is more for professionals and graphic designers. How about yourself, which camera do you use at present?
I am done. The lens.
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Old Jun 27th, 2020, 01:27 PM
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I have a Sony A6500 with various lens....and a small Leica pocket camera. I have not ventured into the various post processing programs but many have recommended the Adobe Lightroom given my tech limitations. Might try it. Weight of camera is a big issue for me...too heavy I won't have it with enough. Thanks again.
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Old Jun 28th, 2020, 01:03 PM
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Forty Fotos of Figeac. A separate section featuring our rural rental in nearby Roussilhe will follow. We promised the owner lady a shout-out.

Figeac's covered marche is the center for much local action, be it the weekly market, brocantes (antique fairs) or whatever.

Some of the local 'marc' drinks, example 'Le Vielle Prune', were 42% alcohol!

The Via Podiensis through the Cele valley, is popular with pilgrims. Locals call them 'escargots' cause of their backpacks.

Sunset in The Lot.

Figeac is known for many well-preserved 12C buildings.

We loved these mushrooms but our biggest discovery at the weekly market was candied kumquats. Oo la la!

Note the row of bras hung under the awning to raise breast cancer awareness.

An Italian drink made for backlit effects.

Armagnac. Hiccup!

Violet bon bons intended as a gift for a certain Fodorite.

"We will drink no wine before its time! Oh what the fuck..."

Bunchafoodicitems.

The area has both white and black walnut varieties.

St. Fodoria, patron saint of full memory cards.

France Profonde.

La Tour LaMarsh. He of course, invented the French condom.

L'histoire.

Pl. Champollion is the other central meeting place, just a 2 minute walk from the marche. C'est magnifique for chilling out at a cafe with locals.

The Champollion or Writing Museum portrays local hero Champollion's decoding of the Rosetta Stone. The backyard square's pavement is a gigantic reproduction.

The Champollion Museum.

Figeac is not widely known and so is not overrun by commercial tourism.

Boys sliding down rail.

The courtyard of the upper church, Notre Dame du Puy, provides a good panorama.

Circular image.

Street of the Resistance Museum. It contained a coded map showing the locations of the numerous Nazi atrocities in the region. Maquis responses were often costly and thus, very controversial.

Peaceful lane.

Shadows.

Pont Gambetta.

Saint Sauveur Church.

Signs. We joked that the '840' at the top denoted 'miles to go'---it was a long slog back to our countryside rental whenever we carried multiple bags.

Autumnal foliage by Cele river. Mrs Z is a colour specialist and her fave section of this photo is the lower left.

Award-winning winery owned and operated by women in Cahors---best red tipple of trip. Runner-up: Domaine Rotier from Gaillac, a white wine similar to Rioja Marques de Murrietta.

Fungi on roof tiles. Sounds like a Frank Zappa album title, non?

Lavoir in Roussilhe.

Figeac's Train Station suffered a serious fire prior to our arrival and the result was some awkward transit connections.

The Brocantes fair under the marche awning.

Brocantes item for sale.

STOP PRESS: a must for those renting in Figeac is the sensational 'Charcuterie de la Halle' (aka Figeac Frais), the best deli that we shopped at during this entire trip. Next door is a good greengrocer. They are located right on the corner of the marche. Honorable Mention: 'Les Cordeliers' wine & sweets shop. Also during the weekly market, be sure to buy from Cheese van over in Pl. Vival. named 'Fromagerie Bonal'. They hail from nearby Aurillhac and locals line up for it.

River Reflection One.

River Reflection Deux.

Last edited by zebec; Jun 28th, 2020 at 01:28 PM.
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Old Jun 28th, 2020, 02:20 PM
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What a lovely tribute to Figeac, zebec. You know it has a special place in my heart. Sorry to see the destruction of the train station, but glad to know it remains pretty much an unknown town.
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Old Jun 29th, 2020, 04:04 AM
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Gorgeous photos. I've been spending my pandemic-so-not-traveling-to-Europe summer organizing my 20 years of photos from around Europe and I have to say yours are very impressive. Thank you for sharing.
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Old Jun 29th, 2020, 07:42 AM
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You are a monster, zebec. I know that you are totally torturing some of the people here. At least some of us (even StCirq) can look at this (very lovely) stuff and just think to ourselves "all of the usual things." But it is a total torment to many others, especially all of those who are going to be on the upcoming list of countries forbidden access to the EU.
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Old Jun 29th, 2020, 08:27 AM
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So true, kerouac.

Zebec's gorgeous photos confirm both my love for this beautiful country and my decision to live here.
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Old Jun 29th, 2020, 11:08 AM
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Et puis, some final shots focusing on our aforementioned rental (Les Deux Sources), which was a nice house on Figeac's outskirts in a rural hamlet called Roussilhe. The owner is an Aussie TV journalist lady whom we gathered was sort of the Lesley Stahl of her nation. I will begin however, with a few shots of rainy Paris. A brief nuts n' bolts accommodations/food listings will conclude this overlong essay.
Then we will be done. The end.


This visit to Paris we chose to rent a house in an easterly residential area just below Pere Lachaise cemetery.

The area is Charonne. Its St. Blaise neighbourhood is probably of most appeal to travelers.

St. Blaise is a funky boho district. Gotta love this above: 'The Street of Street Art'.

I rest my case.

Black Lives Matter.

At Pere Lachaise, we dodged raindrops, got lost within (testing the strength of our bladders) and found ourselves visiting Jim Morrison's grave for the very first time. At that notorious site, we struck up conversation with other visitors, including American TV personality Drew Carey and his young posse. Playing the role of 'Classic Rock Historian Emeritus', I innocently commented on, among other things, Jimbo's alcoholism---hope that others present didn't assume that I was tryna embarrass them.

Some Polish guy who was real good at the piano. Started with 'Ch'. Was it Jerry Lee Ch...? Nope. Maybe Duke Ch....? Uh-uh. I KNOW! Harry Chapin!

Also in that area is the 'Campagne de Paris', a former 19C workers hamlet, now gentrified and contained within the sprawl of Paris.

Wise saying on St. Blaise wall.
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Old Jun 29th, 2020, 11:37 AM
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Les Deux Sources rental house in Roussilhe. The walk into Figeac town is about 20 minutes along a scenic slice of rural France.

It has a private stone patio, a fish pond, a huge pain ou four (old outdoors bread oven), walnut groves plus a pair of ancient water fountains, hence its name.

Distant view from way across the Cele valley (Solvitor Ambulande).

Magical morning view from the house across the Cele valley.

Lovely foliage, ample parking plus peace and quiet.

One time, an unsuspecting deer walked right up to a sketching Mrs Z as she sat on this valley-facing bench.

Trees abound.

Quality furniture is found throughout, the washrooms were wonderful and the upper bedroom is massive.

Staying in the countryside means great views throughout the day.

Owner Helen and her rep will take good care of you.

Helen provides guidebooks, maps, CDs and DVDs, all necessary spare parts for logistics plus a nice greeting basket.
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Old Jun 29th, 2020, 01:04 PM
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Not overly long! I'd say not long enough. Keep going zebec, but no pressure, no pressure.
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Old Jul 1st, 2020, 01:36 PM
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The above Travers d'Averon is dedicated to my high school French teacher, the late Mr. Harvey Bride:"And who would've thought a traveller, to France yet?"

Just some final thoughts here, mostly logistical advice, the potted version.

Lodgings:
We've already mentioned the Belcastel and Figeac places above. For Villefranche, we rented one of the 2 apartments available from the Pago B&B, site of a stylish old mushroom cannery. It was great value in a great location. Pierre and Thierry will take great care of you!
In Conques, we booked the spacious Triple or Family bedroom in Hotel Ste Foy. Wonderful views from the room. The staff did a great job there and their on-site restaurant makes it a very good choice. Very few 3-star hotels anywhere have as many scenic courtyards: there are three here.
In Paris, we rented a nice little house (yes a house) located within an old condo complex right between the Buzevenal and Avron metro stops in the Charonne district. This is an honest-to-goodness residential area, not as photogenic but probably more representative of how working folks really live here. Auchon, Picard and Carrefour supermarkets are all very nearby, as are the usual cafes and boulangeries. *Greg Hosotte's 'Next to You' massage studio is literally next door (get the irony in the title?) and is perfect for treating sore muscles after walking about the city---see the fantastic gicle image there! Our Paris rental was owned by Michel and his adult son Francois. Happy to provide contact details.

Various & sundry:

Visitors to Villefranche may want to inquire about organ concerts in the local church. We caught a performance by an organ-panpipe duo there. *Also, be sure to lunch at the St. Joseph Lycee 'Restaurant d'Application', a restaurant industry training college wherein 17 yr. olds prepare lunches then serve them. Well worth a visit. Reserve ahead.
Visitors to the Cele valley note that it is also known as The Black Triangle, an area of rural France known for good stargazing. And wildlife. Nocturnal viewers might be lucky enough to spot genets and pine martens.

Weird pre-trip occurrence: days prior to our departure for France, the TV show 'Escape to the Continent' replayed a 6 year old episode featuring the Aveyron: Laguepie, Jouqueviel and Castanet.

Market towns nearby that got rave reviews from foodies but we didn't have the time for: Caussade, Carmaux and Rodez.

C'est tous. Thank you for viewing and reading. Hope that you enjoy your next trip.
I am done. The end.

"We're only at home when we're on the wing."

Les deux maudit anglais de Toronto.


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Old Jul 2nd, 2020, 02:58 AM
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This has been such a treat, zebec. In the last photo, it was nice to see the people who shared such great photos.

zebec, you have called this part 1. Are we to assume that you're working on part 2, even as we speak?

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