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.

Old bridge over the River Orb

Hold on to your hat: the name of this bridge in French (and I am not making this up) is Pont Vieux. This is translated as Old Bridge. It’s either the world’s most dumbest name (implying the locals could not think of anything better) or the world’s most artistic name (using a humble self-explanatory moniker for a magnificent thing).

Anyway, dumb or artistic, it spans the River Orb in the South French city of Béziers,

This is a view of the bridge from high above, at the Cathédral Saint-Nazaire:

Michelin test facility in the sunlight

It’s been on my bucket list for a few years to take a photograph of this ancient tire test facility of the Michelin tire company, in Clermont-Ferrand. So you can imagine my happiness when I headed out to it with my camera in hand and was rewarded with wonderful sunlight at a perfect angle.

This snap has not been retouched in any way.

Now . . . this is the part when I then have a little think. I’ve seen some YouTube videos that show the insides of this place, essentially little buggies running back and forth up the hill 24×7. As a physicist myself I can’t really fathom why a test facility like this would be needed, because even with vacuum tubes it should be possible to build control circuitry that would mimic the loads on real tires. But . . . there you have it!

Clermont-Ferrand – 1

Here is the Auvergne city of Clermont-Ferrand, looking down from about halfway up the famous Puy de Dome volcano that sits just outside the city.

That black spot in the center is the city’s cathedral – and it’s black because Clermont-Ferrand is located right smack dab in the middle of a volcanic park, so all the stone is a rich black lava-based stone.

The amazing, mind-blowing Étang de Montady

While scoping out the area near Béziers in the south of France on Google Maps, my eyes spotted this interesting thing:

Was this a special French signal to extraterrestrials? Was this perhaps a secret French nuclear installation?  I had to check it out!

Well, as you can see from the snippet in Google Maps, not only can you check it out but in fact there is a small, one-lane farm road that lets you drive right through it!  Here’s what I saw, rows and rows of drainage ditches:

Indeed, there were a series of drainage ditches – all filled with water – that were feeding radially into a center point. I spotted a nearby hill – at the top of which, coincidentally, is a Roman archeological site called L’Oppidum d’Énsérune, and from that place you can really see how huge this place is:

I discovered a bit more on Wikipedia. Turns out that this site dates back to the thirteenth century! Originally this land was a swamp, and they created this pattern in order to drain the swamp.  I would have loved to walk into the center of the installation, but there were a number of “private property” signs – and, to be honest, I was a bit worried I might accidentally fall into some type of a sink hole, or perhaps into one of the “sixteen vertical shafts” that Wikipedia talks about – so I’ll leave that on my bucket list for a later date.

Forlorn tank in Kaysersberg

This snap is sad for a number of reasons. When I saw this tank, at this angle, in this light, looking longingly out into the fields where, in its youth, it was running about and shooting and deflecting bullets and driving over people, it somehow made me very sad. Not that these activities were good things; quite the opposite. But that this tank still had a wonderful condition but could not do what it was designed to do.

But now I am even more sad, because this is the Alsacian village of Kaysersberg where, just a few months later, the noted celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took his own life.

Arrogant storks

Sorry, there’s no other word to describe it. Stop in any rest area in the Alsace area of France, and you’ll be sure to see plenty of storks strutting around.

But, try to walk up to one. They won’t attack you. They won’t run away. Instead, they shrug their shoulders and turn their heads away, to send a “oh pleeeeeeeease” message: I am a stork, you idiot, haven’t you seen a stork before? Just go away, you jackass, and let me look for some tasty frogs to eat.


Even if you are not rich and famous, you’ve probably heard of the finest in French crystal, known as Baccarat Crystal.

Well, it gets its name not from the most famous company that manufactures it (Baccarat Crystal) but from the village of the same name.

The village is nestled deep, deep within the Vosges Mountains of Eastern France – and it’s quite a bit like Appalachia, in the United States. Yes, you can come here. No, nobody will try to stop you. But let’s just say, if you were to ask the French Gendarmes about the wisdom of your decision, they would probably encourage you to go somewhere else.

Here is a snap from the village:

And here is another snap:

And here is another snap:

French cow

Since the times of the Holy Roman Empire scholars have continued to ask whether it is possible to take a bad photograph of a good cow – and despite the best efforts of the finest religious scholars and philosophers, the answer is – always – time and time again – a resounding NO!

I took this snap in the south of France, Les Pays des Portes du Haut-Doubs, just a few kilometers from the border to the Jura region of Switzerland.

FAKE – Alsace drainage

As artistic a snap as I thought I could take of water pouring out of a drainage canal in Alsace, on its way to the Rhein river:

Just for the record: the photos I post are never in any way retouched or enhanced or changed – except for cropping. OK, and maybe a very simple color correction a la Google.

But in this series of blog posts entitled FAKE I publish some rather interesting images I have enhanced in some way. This picture was enhanced using a more severe color correction option offered by Google Photos.