Belfort building

As artistic a snap as I thought I could take of a building in the French village of Belfort, in the region known as Bourgogne-Franche-Comté,

Yes, if Bourgogne sounds familiar then it probably is: it’s the original French word that is translated as Burgundy, and it’s where the French wine of the same name comes. Belfort itself is an interesting place with many historical sights and an often-flipped past; at times it belonged to Germany.

Alsacian sprinkler

OK, more formally known as a lateral move irrigation machine, these things are just amazing. They have an astonishing amount of electronics, including servo motors that move the wheels.

I took this snap in the winter, in Alsace. This seems to be a so-called two wheel model, since there are two wheels per assembly.

I tried to look up how much one of these babies cost (capital costs, not operating costs), and I was surprised to find a few things. First, the costs are usually reported per hectare or acre. Second, there is a huge range in the costs, from USD 300 per acre to USD 6’000 per acre, depending on the features and functionality.

Sunrise over the Alsacian refinery

As artistic a snap as I thought I could take of the sun rising above Germany’s Schwarzwald, shining down onto a refinery next to the Rhein River in Alsace,

Most times my photos are opportunistic – I see a sight I like and I take a snap. In this case I had the idea the sunrise might lead to a nice snap, so I arrived early with a thermos of hot tea, and waited for what I thought was the right moment.

It’s also at times like these when I think about what it must be like to own a multi-thousand-CHF digital camera with fancy lenses. If I had one, I am sure this shot could be 147 times better!

I don’t own one. I’ve got a little Canon point-and-shoot I bought for CHF 400 several years ago and is still top in its class today. I like the idea of having my camera with me – at all times – everywhere. I sacrifice quite a lot on photographic quality, but it is more than compensated by getting snaps of sights that I spontaneously see and appeal to me.

An optical illusion in Béziers

If you think there is something a bit amiss with this facade, you’d be right:

In fact, I naively walked by until I saw a couple of tourists taking a picture, so I backed up and realized: there are no balconies on that face at all!  In fact, it is a flat building, and what you see is just a very clever painting with perspective.

It’s a tribute to an artist who was born here, Jean-Antoine Injalbert. Funny thing, though, lest you jump to any conclusions: the artist was a famous French sculptor:

Béziers bridge for boats

As artistic a snap as I thought I could take of the Canal du Midi, which at this point crosses the River Orb in an aquaduct. Yes – that’s right! – that is not a bridge for cars or people but a bridge for boats!

This snap was taken in Béziers, with the famous Cathédral Saint-Naive high on a hill in the background:

Recovering the language of Alsace

Continuing the series, just as I showed the efforts by the French to re-ignite the southern French language of Langue d’Oc, here’s a snap of what’s happening in Alsace, on the border with Germany, where the language of Alsacienne has been falling into obscurity:

I don’t know the statistics, but speaking from experience I have interacted with a large number of people who speak Alsacienne. It’s a bit tricky for me to understand, it seems to be a mixture of French and German – but I can generally follow along and get the gist of what people are saying. Interestingly, in most cases when I’ve interacted with someone speaking Alsacienne and they realize I am struggling, they jump back to French rather than German – so my guess is that French rather than German is the stronger element.

Béziers Centre Historique

The last post showed a snap of the Centre Ville of the southern French city of Béziers, and here is a snap of a typical street in the Centre Historique,

This is a relatively broad street in the Centre Historique. I was amazed to find a very large number of streets that are perhaps no more than 2 meters wide. Perhaps this was done for defensive reasons, since the city is in the south and would have seen many battles and even the Crusades.

Béziers building

Nothing special or historic or anything of that nature. I just liked how the building looked in the sunlight:

There are a number of southern French cities layed out similar to this one, with a large rectangle in the center, often used for a market, then tiny one lane roads on each side where traffic is unidirectional.