Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rebuilt ruins

The main street of Pont-en-Royans, just before you reach the Picard Bridge over the Bourne, used to be narrow and dangerous. The situation improved considerably, a few months ago, after the removal of a couple of derelict buildings that used to form a blind corner. Last November, I took this photo of one of these buildings, built against the steep slopes of one of the two mountains that form a backdrop to the village of Pont-en-Royans.

Yesterday, I took a photo of the remains of the rear end of the demolished building.

As you can see, the stonemasons are quite expert at restoring ruins, to make them look as good as new. Obviously, this is not a mere matter of aesthetics, designed to fool passers-by into imagining that there might be a nice little room and balcony to rent up there (if only you could access the structure in one way or another). No, they've patched up the ruins, consolidated them and smoothed them over with fresh mortar (like the façade of my house at Gamone) for a practical reason. The presence of those old walls prevents landslides and falling rocks. So, what you see there is an excellent example of environmental sustainability.

PS I'm tempted, one of these days, to start spreading a rumor that, on certain wintry evenings, a ghostly female can be seen at the window, with a lit candle, reciting the names of the Huguenot soldiers who were slain by Antoine de Sassenage during the 16th-century Wars of Religion and then thrown from the nearby walls into the Bourne. From a touristic viewpoint, that's what's missing in Pont-en-Royans: a few good ghosts.

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