Gone fishing or why French villages seem deserted.

“Where is everyone?”  The peace and quiet of rural France, with its shuttered windows and empty streets, now makes perfect sense to me. This is a world where shopping is not held to be a pastime, but a necessity, whereas fishing is treated as a necessary source of relaxation and peaceful contentment. The perimeter of the Digue de Faymoreau is home to a Gallic version of the “garden shed”. Piles are sunk into the bottom of the lake on which are constructed pontoons, with walkways to the shore, on which each proud owner will construct a fishing cabin in his own particular style. The styles vary, but there is a certain neo Victorian elegance about many of them. Colour is from a muted palette that fits in well with the natural surroundings, with the occasional chromatic shock from a terracotta  corrugated iron roof. There is even a trend towards cementing real, “tiges de bottes”, terracotta tiles on top of the iron roof. There is a peaceful tranquility about this place. I have never attempted to fish, but in this environment it seems to take on a contemplative nature which attracts me. Many of the cabanes are equipped with  efficient, but extraordinarily unattractive, barbecues which are constructed from precast sections of breeze block. Apart from these monstrosities, which I hardly notice now, there is a total harmony with nature and the simple, man made constructions. Wild flowers and herbs line the edges of the encircling path. Each step producing a cloud of perfume from the wild mint and camomile. Fields run down to the water’s edge where horses quietly drink. The arrival of a person into this peace galvanises flotillas of ducks who are under the impression that all humans carry a quantity of bread with them, the sole purpose of which is to feed to ducks. These ducks are fearless of humans which is ironic as the Vendée is the largest producer of duck foie gras in France. Each cabane is stamped with an individuality reminiscent of English beach huts. I have been assured that they are nearly as difficult to acquire but without the insane price tag. Carefully constructed gangways are de rigueur. Some of these sport a drawbridge system which serves to insulate the fisherman from any intrusion from the shore, whilst others have solid metal doors set into wire cages. You get the feeling that these fishermen do not enjoy unsolicited interruption. House name plates abound as do weathervanes in the shape of fish. The Digue de Faymoreau was created to provide hydro electric power for the surrounding area, which it did until 1958. I have noticed that the dam end is definitely the most chic address for one’s cabane. Dark green, as in dark green wellies, is the preferred colour. The platforms here often have more than one structure, a dining area and the famous bbq. The pathway behind these smart cabanes is edged with a steep bank going up to a neighbouring field. These uppercrust tenants have terraced this slope to plant herb beds, create firewood storage and finally to surmount the whole with a smart, dark green sentry box, which undoubtedly houses a “loo with a view”.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in Digital photography, France, Landscapes, Photography holiday, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Gone fishing or why French villages seem deserted.

  1. oh wow love your photos…it’s awesome….so much to learn from you.

  2. ems97007 says:

    Beautifully composed photo with an evocative description of country life in Southern France. Thank you!

  3. ayjeebee says:

    You make me feel like going there!!

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