P1080404Trying to explain what is “new” and “old” in France to somebody from the Americas is challenging. In a place where the first buildings still standing went up in 485 CE, something from 1663 is relatively new.P1060555

I never liked history because of having to memorize dates. It’s very strange, because I’m good with numbers and am likelier to remember somebody’s phone number or zip code than their name. I guess we also had to memorize a lot of names. Not enough emphasis on the stories!

I finally have a few key points under my belt, such as July 14, 1789: Bastille Day. These things never happen on a whim. The kindling is laid for years, and then when the fire is sparked, it takes off ferociously.

The U.S. was one year old.


The houses above were built in the period when things had been getting better to the extent that people lived longer and populations swelled. France had the biggest population in Europe. For a while it was boom times, then prices for food rose sharply.P1090682

This 1790 house was built in the early days of the revolution, not far from the 1780 house. Had the unrest reached this far into France profonde? To get here, you have to pass the mountainous Massif Central, until the band of plain where these houses lie. Beyond here, you hit mountains, where sheep outnumber people, and then Spain. P1090591

I constantly marvel and am thankful that these houses, with their not-square corners and not-plumb walls and not-level floors, have been inhabited and tended to, rather than torn down for something modern. P1090684

In the little streets, time stands still.P1090588P1090676P1090539

Despite the simple tools of the time, curves (the intentional ones!) grace the architecture.P1090548P1090546P1090544

Concrete and glass can be beautiful, but after a while, so many pure lines feel bland. Give me a nice stone wall that has seen some things.P1090545

Arched door, arched back.


I mentioned just last week, on the first day of spring, that the trees had a green haze that hinted at leaves, which I predicted would burst out all at once. Well, the switch flipped. The photos below are from almost the same spot. The one on the left was from a couple of weeks ago with the first buds, and the one on the right was taken yesterday.

Spring fever is contagious. My kid occasionally  often forgets to be a sullen teen, for example, yesterday, exclaiming at breakfast that the birds were singing. Indeed, a whole chorus of birds chirped and twittered in the background of a belted-out aria from Merle, our resident blackbird. Un merle is French for blackbird, and I think it’s a good name for such a singer. He often sits on the peak of our house and serenades us as we dine en terrace in the evenings, something we can finally do again.

I hope your spring day is as beautiful as mine.P1090510

26 thoughts on “Age Is Just a Number

  1. I love this post. I love the pictures – these are awesome. I love the stone and the imperfections. The imperfections to me just add to the beauty. Thank you. And so spot on – the challenge of what’s old and new. And thank you for my new word – Un Merle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for such a great post and pictures. My favorite is the arched cat as well as seeing spring “popping” out in the woodland. Having lived in a house that was built in 1840, young by French standards, as “newer” houses built between 1958 and 1972, and I can tell you I much prefer the 1840 house to either of the “new” ones. With all its imperfections – wavy glass in the windows – it was probably the most livable house I’ve ever lived in.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glorious photos. Love the texture of light and stone, weight and balance.
    In Normandy recently, I came across a church whose main section was wattle and daub, operational in 1066, just as local boy Guillaume le Conquérant was setting off across the Channel. Kind of puts modern life into perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A beautiful photo essay, especially appreciated against the recent news. I love the shapes but it is really the textures that speak to me. Just as the little moments in life often have more meaning than the major arcs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can never walk through any connerbation without marvelling at the skill and effort it took those forebears to construct the buildings. And I always look up …. so many of the fine details are above our heads on old and older and positively ancient buildings. Spring is in fine fettle over this side – literally bursting before our eyes. Today the garden has been tended and freshly moan by my upstairs neighbours and we are enjoying sitting in it eating and drinking and chatting, midst that unmistakable and joyous odour of fresh cut grass. Fortune indeed in the heart of a bustling city.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Beautiful architectural features! My parents came from the Netherlands, so when they referenced a town’s new and old church, the new church dated from the 1500s, a couple of hundred years after the old church.

    That’s not new!

    Here we’re at the stage where coats are still needed, but a toque might only be needed for a portion of the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Like Osyth, I too am amazed at the manpower/hours it must have taken too build these ancient structures and without the modern equipment and tools available today. I admire the old crooked walls and floors and all.

    Liked by 1 person

    OH THAT STONE………. those old doors………..THE DATES!!!!
    Nothing MORE BEAUTIFUL to ME than these photos HERE!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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