Collobrières dans le Var
Change of scenery
Changement de décor
(click on the image to enlarge)
Moving to Provence is a challenge:
Most French people think that you are retiring. Well I am not, and given the
state of retirement finances in France and in Germany, I will probably never be
able to retire. I hope my customers and prospects don't think I am retired, and
they don't need to call upon me any more!
The people in the south suspect, that if you are not retired, you will not live here during the whole year. Probably thinking « no need to integrate these people », they won't be around most of the time.
Worse still: How do you move from a project of rather abstract photography
at La Défense to the postcard-landscapes of Provence, photographed a million
times before you get there? Or how do you write about your experience without
subconsciously plagiarising Marcel Pagnol or Peter Mayle?
I'll stick to photography and will not write about “our first year in
And in photography, I'll start like other photographers moving to foreign places:
I start by looking out of my window.
Not that this helps much in avoiding the postcard-trap, but you get an idea
about structure and light in your surroundings, and – living in the countryside
– it gives you an idea about the seasons and their particularities.
So let us start by looking to the left just outside my office-door. And in
the next posting, we look to the right.
You probably think that is a ridiculously narrow point of view, but you will
see how much tings change between October and now.
I am curious for your feed-back.
The above image was taken on 22 October, actually later than the following one that looks already much more autumnal.
13 October: Since we live in a valley parallel to the sea, at the foot of
the Massif des Maures, the sea does not temper temperature changes here, and it
becomes rather cold at night. In the early October mornings, the sun evaporates
the dew or even the frost on the vineyards.
Between 20 (above) and 25 November (below), all the vine leaves
In December and January, I must have looked elsewhere or simply have braved
the surprising cold. On clear nights, between early December and end of
February, temperatures fell below zero – on every clear night! I had hoped for
a mild winter, which it often was – during the day.
6 February: The vine is getting pruned rather severely, giving a rather more
graphic structure to the formerly straggly vineyards. Very nice!
11 March: The plum tree at the top of the vineyard is in blossom, a good
three weeks later than the trees closer to the sea or in north-south
23 April: The first timid leaves appear on the vine. The plum tree is
through its blossom and already covered in new leaves.
7 May: Only two weeks later, the vine has grown amazingly; new branches and
lots of leaves. The graphic structure is gradually disappearing.
22 June: The vineyard has become an unstructured sea of green, the oleander
is in full bloom again (as it was in October), and if the image were larger,
you could see a ton of yellow fruit on the plum tree at the top of the
Talk about the postcard-trap!
While I write this, I have just finished cleaning up a ton of such small
yellow plums – for the second day running – in front of my window in our
garden! In my home village we would have made Schnaps from them, but people in
the South are not into strong alcohol, and you don't find anyone distilling
fruit. We will have to stick to rosé wine.
Not that I complain about rosé! Our niece and her husband's family make a very nice one just across the hills, at the Château Ste. Marguerite
Next week: The view to the right of my window.