Happy summer solstice! We’ve progressed from a long, wet spring to a somewhat less wet, warmer season. The summer solstice is days away, and I’ve been out exploring a few corners of the region.

A trip to the beach
First stop: Gruissan, on the Mediterranean coast south of Narbonne. This area is all about life next to the sea. There’s an ancient fishing village, with small picturesque cabanes de pêcheurs (fishermen’s huts), some now used for holiday rentals, plus tantalizing fresh fish stands. Just around the bend are the salt flats where salt is still produced in the old way, by hand. There are long, beautiful beaches with cabins on stilts (1,300 of them!). All along the water’s edge you can find places to pick up fresh oysters and other seafood. And if all that isn’t enough, there’s a round medieval tower named for the pirate Barbarossa.

We strolled around the site of the old fishermen’s huts at Étang de l’Ayrolle:

Gone Fishin’
“Gone Fishin’ ”

Photo Set 1
On the left, “Primary Geometry” is a Mondrian-like view of a fishing boat. On the right, “Poissons de Denis” offers fresh fish and seafood in a colorful stand.


Fish Skeleton
“Fish Skeleton” : Notice the metal artwork poking out of the water at the right.


A drive in the mountains
I also live close to the mountains, with several regional parks to the north. On several driving tours with friends, I’ve visited the source of the river that runs through my town (the Cesse), explored villages clinging to hillsides, crossed a few medieval bridges, shopped for local crafts, and hiked a deep, rocky canyon.

Photo Set 3
On the left, one of my typographic prints, made using a sweet photograph of a bench of wrought-iron hearts. On the right, “Turning Blue” is the old handle of a wooden shutter. Both photographs were made in Olargues.
Photo Set 4
On the left, “Door Number Two” appears to be so rarely used that it has become part of the stone around it. On the right, “Watching the World” is one of two chairs sheltered in the rocky entrance to a house. Both photographs were made in Lespinassière, whose citizens seem to like green.


A visit to church
There’s a rare and exquisite seven-sided church in a town just west of here. The Sainte-Marie church of Rieux-Minervois, dating from the 12th century, is unusual for its heptagonal layout, and the number seven is represented throughout the small church. The exquisite carvings are by the Master of Cabestany, whose name is lost to history, but whose work is recognizable by the artist’s depth of skill, unique features, and consistent productivity throughout the Occitanie region. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work soon!

Photo Set 2
The heptagonal church of Sainte-Marie in Rieux-Minervois. Beneath its Romanesque arch, that narrow entrance door is lucky if it’s seven feet high. On the right, a carving of two lions by the Master of Cabestany.


Parting shot
The sign is in a Spanish-French tapas café, and it reads: “Stop putting your problems on Facebook and come to the bar like everyone else.” Makes sense to me! And speaking of technology and social media, you won’t see another post from me until mid-July, when I return from vacation. See you then!

Come to the Bar

2 thoughts on “Explorations”

    1. Ch“ere Deb, France misses you, as do I. I hope you’re considering another trip, when we can go off together in search of more exquisite corners. Thanks for writing today!


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