Monday, March 23, 2009

WALLS, WINDOWS and DETAILS

I have put together a series of photos depicting the interesting and quirky details of village buildings in south west France. Ranging from windows only as wide as a hand, to beautiful street signs and from wooden beams to door knockers. Coming from a modern country like Australia with no buildings dating back further than the 18oo's, I found it fascinating to wander the ancient streets of France and imagine the lives lived during the history of these buildings, most dating from the 1300's.

These are streets and buildings still functioning today as towns, homes and businesses. Despite the ancient exterior appearance, inside is modern, clean and functional. Rooves are often fitted with TV aerials and satellite dishes but advertising of any sort is rare and finding a particular shop or business can be extraordinarily difficult as addresses are vague and signage almost non-existent.

Market days bring crowds and the streets are bustling but the rest of the week is quiet and perfect for photography. Everything closes for lunch and siesta between 12 and 2 or 3 or even 4 and the villages become ghost-like, with only the restaurants showing any signs of life at all. Pots of plants are everywhere and indicate that people do actually live inside. During winter there was not a lot of colourful plantings but come spring, doorsteps will be edged in pots of geraniums and window boxes will overflow with colour.

Luckily for the visitor, French people have kept their beautiful, old buildings and not demolished them in the name of progress. To their way of thinking it does not matter what a building looks like on the outside, it is what is inside that counts. Renovations are only carried out to stop complete collapse of the walls. So they remain living history; a rare and wonderful thing in this era of cheap and nasty architecture.

Long live the French village.