Showing posts with label Choranche. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Choranche. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Individuals whose stupidity has made me suffer enormously

The worst of all are Geneviève Moreau, mayor of Choranche, and Laurent Drouot, deputy-mayor : a truly diabolical pair. Their crime has consisted of trying to persuade their electors that they know something about computing and the Internet, whereas their ignorance is vast. And their attitude towards me has been insulting ever since our first encounter. This madness has been going on for years. Drouot (a professional fireman at Romans) even sent me an email, on February 13, in which he said I was mentally unsound !


I have told Moreau and Drouot on countless occasions that they should simply disappear from our lovely village. But the idiots are still there in the mairie of Choranche. They're a permanent calamity. What can be done?

Idiots of this kind do not need the kind of rapid Internet service that Emmanuel Macron would like to install as soon as possible, everythere throughout France. Unless they receive serious training in the technical aspects of using real computers (such as the iMac) rather than phone gadgets, they wouldn’t know what to do with a good Internet service. Unless this training enabled them to understand that web sites have to be built, rather than just picked up magically by manipulating services such as the Israeli WordPress tool, there would be no point in offering them rapid Internet. What we really need is some kind of structural change that would make it impossible for tiny villages in places such as Choranche and Châtelus to elect nasty idiots such as Moreau, Drouot and Antoine Molina. It’s France herself, rather than the Internet (which works wonderfully well for me), that needs to be changed drastically.

Last but not least : Alarming problems have always existed between me and my neighbors Ageron/Riboulet at Gamone...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Des amis d'autrefois

Geneviève Moreau est la mairesse de Choranche, et Laurent Drouot est son adjoint. Or, pour des raisons que je tente sans succès de comprendre, ces deux individus n'ont jamais voulu faire appel à moi pour que je leur explique comment réaliser un site web sur le camping municipal de notre village. Au lieu d'accepter mon offre, ils persistent à m'insulter. Drouot m'avait même envoyé l'email suivant :
 

On voit que cet homme n'aime ni le concitoyen William ni son Mac.

J'ai des kilos de documents qui montrent leur mauvaise foi à mon égard. Je parlerais même d'une sorte de haine viscérale. Je ne vois pas pourquoi ils seraient des xénophobes, mais c'est un terme horrible qui me vient souvent à l'esprit.

Une fois, quand j'avais tenté d'expliquer à la mairesse que son adjoint avait fait appel à un service israélien parfaitement honorable, Wix, cette dame m'avait répondu sèchement et bêtement que j'étais probablement antisémite ! C'était une insulte incompréhensible à l'égard d'un grand amateur de la religion juive et de l'hébreu moderne. (Mon fils François pourrait affirmer ce que je viens de dire.) J'ai même fait paraître un roman en anglais sur cette culture : All the Earth is Mine, publié chez moi par Gamone Press.


Dans un premier temps, j’avais cru naïvement que les lois de notre République ne permettraient pas à deux élus d’insulter fréquemment un citoyen respectable de mon âge. Hélas, j’avais tort. Ils ont parfaitement le droit, paraît-il, de cracher tout le venin puant qu'ils souhaitent vomir. Si je comprends bien, seule une offense physique infligée par ces deux énergumènes me permettrait de poser des plaintes contre eux. Voilà donc pourquoi j’ai fini par penser que la seule approche possible consisterait à signaler ici, en toute simplicité, leurs bêtises. Dont acte.

Tout ça, c'est de la folie d'individus intelligents mais désagréables à mon égard. Des individus dont les comportements absurdes confirment qu'ils ne méritent pas de rester des élus de la Nation. Plus rien à dire.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rôle de l'ordinateur dans la nouvelle France

Je suis persuadé que, dans la nouvelle France qu'imagine Emmanuel Macron, l'informatique et l'Internet vont jouer forcément un rôle important. Plus particulièrement, pour ce qui me concerne comme citoyen de Choranche, je trouve que les responsables d'une commune doivent respecter l'informatique et l'Internet. Si les élus ne maîtrisent pas du tout ces technologies, ils doivent alors faire appel à quelqu'un qui les connait effectivement, parfaitement. Ne pas le faire serait, à mes yeux, une faute impardonnable. Ce qui est pire : tenter de donner aux citoyens l'idée mensongère que les élus de la commune maîtrisent ces nouvelles technologies. Les preuves de leur ignorance seront vite évidentes. Limpides comme l'eau de la Bourne.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Y a quelque chose qui cloche là-dedans

Mettez-vous dans la position d’un touriste qui souhaiterait utiliser Google pour savoir s’il existe un camping dans la commune de Châtelus en Isère.


Oui, il y en a :


Le site est en trois langues : français, anglais, néerlandais.
Il y a de jolies images de campeurs, un plan pour indiquer l'endroit
puis la liste des tarifs :

Nuitée adulte.................................... 3,25 €
Nuitée enfant (10 à 18 ans)...................... 1,50 €
(taxe incluse : 0,22 € par nuitée)
Emplacement tente + véhicule..................... 3,50 €
Emplacement caravane + véhicule.................. 3,80 €
Emplacement camping-car.......................... 4,50 €
Emplacement cyclotouristes/randonneurs........... 2,00 €
Véhicule supplémentaire.......................... 1,20 €
Electricité (branchement)........................ 3,50 €
Douche chaude et animaux....................... gratuits

 Il y a également les coordonnées des responsables du camping,
avec leurs numéros de téléphone et une adresse e-mail :

 Daniel et Michèle BERGER
170 Combe Bernard
38680 CHÂTELUS
France


tél 0677929186 (à partir de la France)
ou 33-677929186 (à partir de l'étranger)

e-mail daniel.berger07@orange.fr

numéro SIRET 40487903300011

On voit même que l'auteur de ce site web est un Choranchois :
William Skyvington

Maintenant, quittez Châtelus et mettez-vous dans la position d’un touriste qui souhaiterait savoir s’il existe un camping dans la commune d'en face, Choranche en Isère.


Oui, il y en a, même plusieurs campings,
dont un camping municipal :


Mais ce site réagit bizarrement quand on tente de cliquer sur les images.

Curieusement, on retrouve un lien vers le camping privé de Châtelus
créé par Skyvington :


Il n'y a aucun joli petit site web comme celui de Châtelus... et l'on se demande pourquoi le développeur Skyvington n'aurait pas proposé à la mairie de Choranche qu'il présente leur camping municipal sur l'Internet.
   
  Qu'est-ce qui se passe ?

Il va de soi que mon blog accepte des commentaires.

Voici l'explication :

Un site web est comme un iceberg dont on ne voit que la partie visible.
On ne voit jamais la partie cachée de cet iceberg, qu'on appelle

le code

rédigé en HTML + CSS.

 L'utilisateur lambda d'un site web n'a pas accès à ce code.
Autrement dit, cet utilisateur ordinaire est totalement incapable
de voir comment le développeur du site gère les mots clés.
Il s'agit là d'un aspect ordinaire du développement de sites que
des individus sans une formation adéquate ne peuvent pas comprendre.
Voilà pourquoi les gens de la mairie de Choranche
ne pourront jamais promouvoir correctement sur l'Internet
le camping municipal de notre commune, car ils ne maîtrisent pas
le développement de sites web en HTML + CSS.
Un point, c'est tout.
J'essaie de leur expliquer ça depuis des années,
mais ils refusent de me croire.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Trompeurs

Je me permets d’introduire un sens particulier du mot « trompeur ». Dans le contexte qui m’intéresse actuellement, un trompeur est une personne qui se permet de s’exprimer sur des sujets qu’elle ne peut absolument pas comprendre. Un trompeur de ce type n’est ni bon ni méchant, ni particulièrement intelligent ni spécialement ignorant… C'est tout simplement un menteur ordinaire qui parle dans un domaine où il ferait mieux de se taire. Il n’est pas question de le réprimander. Au contraire, ça ne sert à rien de tenter de lui expliquer qu’il se trompe, car il ne connait pas suffisamment bien le domaine en question pour comprendre qu’il se trompe.

• A quoi bon parler d’erreurs en informatique à un interlocuteur non-informaticien ? Il ne va pas comprendre vos explications.

• A quoi bon parler d’une subtilité dans la langue anglaise à quelqu’un qui n’a pas une grande expérience dans de telles subtilités ? Vos remarques vont passer au-dessus de sa tête. Pire, il va penser que vous seriez un snob qui ose insulter les braves gens qui tentent de maîtriser cette langue pénible.

 • A quoi bon parler de l’impossibilité mathématique de créer un blog profond en WordPress, ou un site passionnant en WIX, à quelqu’un qui n’est pas en mesure d’apprécier les idées mêmes de “blog profond” ou “site intéressant” ? Votre interlocuteur vous accusera d’être méchant.

Quand on décide de converser avec quelqu’un sur n’importe quel sujet (en dehors de la politique, la psychologie, les religions, etc), mieux vaut s’assurer préalablement que votre interlocuteur saura de quoi vous parlez… sinon il risque de devenir furax, car il pensera éventuellement que vous tentez de le prendre pour un imbécile ou un con. Il ne comprendra pas que vous essayez tout simplement de lui suggérer qu’il ferait mieux de se limiter aux sujets qu’il maîtrise…

Enfin, la seule personne que trompe réellement le trompeur dont je parle est… lui-même !

ADDENDUM   Mes paroles sont désagréables en ce sens que je passe mon temps à critiquer autrui : les individus que j’appelle des trompeurs. Je sais tout de même bien ce que c’est d’être moi-même un trompeur franchement idiot. Il n’y a pas si longtemps, j’ai invectivé un ami parce qu’il avait évoqué « le fruit » d’un vieux mur à Choranche.

Bâtisse des moines vignerons au Clos de Salomon, Choranche

Ne voyant aucun arbre fruitier à côté de la bâtisse, j’ai demandé à mon ami (Georges M.) de quoi il parlait. Quand il a eu le gentilesse de m’expliquer que le soi-disant fruit d’un mur est l’angle de pente d’une façade, j’étais encore plus furax, et je lui ai dit qu’il n’avait pas le droit d’employer un tel terme d’architecture auprès d’un individu né en Australie, qui n'avait commencé à apprendre le français que tardivement. Bref, j’étais un con qui prenait mon ami pour un snob, tout simplement parce qu’il avait osé employer un terme qui devait normalement appartenir à mon vocabulaire. Par la suite, je n’étais pas du tout fier de moi-même. Enfin, j’espère que mon ami m’a pardonné.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Base jumps can go wrong

Tineke Bot sent me a photo of land at Châtelus, taken from their house in Choranche.

                                                                         [photo by Tineke Bot]

Click the photo to enlarge it slightly.

A base jumper had taken off from the cliff above Rochemuse : Tineke's property, located behind the photographer. He was blown onto the top of a tree in Châtelus. A rescue helicopter arrived on the spot. It was a complicated and risky affair, and it took many people several hours. The fellow's life was at stake, as he could have slipped to his death at any instant. Happily, the base-jumper finally managed to get down safely out of the tree by his own means. All's well that ends well.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Base jumping at Choranche

I have the impression that the following YouTube videos are composed of base-jumps from a site in Presles located above the Rochemuse estate in Choranche. Often you glimpse a small lake: the electricity dam located between Châtelus and Choranche.


Je serais content de recevoir des informations précises
sur ces vidéos de la part de spécialistes locaux.

+

Max Moret tombé à Choranche le 30 avril 2011

Monday, September 19, 2016

Google respects the private lives of cows

Google's famous Street View gadget has been reprimanded, from time to time, for displaying roadside individuals who are easily identifiable. A jealous husband might discover, say, that his wife was photographed in a conversation with a male neighbor further down the road. And that might create problems. So, people's faces are blurred, to make them as unrecognizable as possible. In most cases, this technique works well.

Google seems to have decided that the same process should be applied to dairy cows, so that no jealous bull would ever see red.


Fitzroy, who often roams around the neighborhood to visit his lady friends, told me that he would feel more at ease if Google were to extend their privacy blurs to cover, not only cows, dogs and cats, but the entire range of four-legged creatures. I suspect that, from time to time, my dog might be boring into attractive young wild boars, and he doesn't want this news to spread around Choranche and Pont-en-Royans.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Me and my car

Just over a year ago, in July 2015, I stumbled in the steep staircase at my house in Gamone and had a nasty fall, bumping my head. Doctors have told me that I could have easily killed myself. I'm convinced that the only creature who knows exactly what happened is my dear dog Fitzroy, but he has never told me. Today, in the house, Fitzroy remains constantly a yard or so away from me. Whenever I move up or down the staircase, Fitzroy accompanies me immediately. When I open the bathroom window, Fitzroy immediately places himself between me and the opening, with such determination that I once imagined incorrectly that I might have actually fallen from this window.

Since then, I've never got back to driving on the road. Theoretically, I'm still quite capable of driving. I once demonstrated this capability to my son, on the lawn of his house in Plouha. Above all, I have good eyesight and, since the accident, I've never touched a drop of alcohol.


These days, whenever I need to drive into town, I call upon my friend Martine. She's an expert driver, who looks upon my Kangoo as an excellent vehicle for picking up a fortnight's groceries. Martine has even suggested that she might assist me in getting back into action as a driver. But I'm not at all convinced that I need to do so. I'll soon be 76 years old, and the narrow roads in the vicinity of my house at Choranche are not reassuring. On the contrary, they can be dangerous. So, why bother getting back to the wheel? In spite of all my likely progress, I would be a permanent public danger.

Yesterday, my neighbor Gérard phoned to say hello. He was astounded when I told him (to explain why I haven't visited him over the last year) that I no longer drive my Kangoo. He told me, literally, that abandoning the wheel was surely the worst thing that could possibly happen in the existence of a citizen of Choranche. (To better understand his point of view, you need to be familiar with the steep and narrow winding road that leads up to Gérard's house, which is nevertheless just a few hundred yards away from Gamone.) The news that I had given was as if I had just told Gérard that I was stricken with a major health problem. And he sympathized with me, even to the extent of suddenly referring with pain to his recent personal loss of his mother and two sisters.

To drive or not to drive. That is the question. And I'm more or less convinced that the ideal answer is... Martine.

NOTE A few days ago, the local doctor in Pont-en-Royans (an intelligent Rumanian lady with whom I communicate most often in English) told me that I would recover some facial nerves that were damaged in the fall if I were speak out loud as often as possible. This is not a simple task for a solitary individual who doesn't often use the telephone. So, I've decided to read out loud (in front of my dog Fitzroy) the French-language movie script on which I've been working: Adieu, Abelone based upon The Notebook of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Rilke. If I work at this task long enough, I might even end up obtaining a role in the future movie.

UPDATE: Click here for another exciting approach to restoring any damaged brain functions.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Medieval meat

Maybe I’m exaggerating when I refer to these huge pieces of freshly-shot wild boar as medieval meat.


You’ll have to excuse me. My head is in the historical clouds. I’ve been preoccupied for several weeks now by my work on the next book to be published by my Gamone Press.


It’s not so much the meat itself—which has been cooking slowly for the last few hours, in white wine, in my marvelous French-made SEB slow cooker (“crock-pot”)— that is medieval, but rather the means by which I obtained it. In a pure feudal spirit, one of the hunters who had killed the animal, on the outskirts of Gamone, dropped in yesterday with a big white plastic bag holding the pieces of wild boar. In contemporary terms, this spontaneous gesture is the way in which the hunting community (often denigrated by rural newcomers) expresses thanks to the land-owners on whose properties they’ve been operating.

To tell the truth, it took me some time to become accustomed to all the agitation and noise of hunters on the slopes opposite Gamone. I suppose I imagined naively that I might get hit by a stray bullet. These days, on the contrary, I’m fond of these wild weekends, which must be thought of as expressions of ancient traditions in the valley of the Bourne. Besides, Fitzroy and I are well-placed—on our Gamone balcony—to see and appreciate what’s going on. This afternoon, for example, two hunters were wandering around with their dogs in the tall grass on the slopes. Suddenly, the fixed gaze of my dog led my regard towards the presence of a big roe deer, sprinting down towards Gamone Creek, just a few meters below the hunters and their dogs… who were clearly unaware of the deer’s presence.

For Fitzroy, too, there’s the pleasure of gnawing into a wild boar bone.






Getting back to my future book, I’m often tempted to say that living in a place such as Gamone without seeking to find out a little about the previous occupants strikes me as mindless, indeed immoral. I didn’t invent Gamone. I only “own” the place in a short-lived legal sense: the time to write a book, you might say. To use a quaint Victorian term, Fitzroy and I are lodgers at Gamone.

My historical research unearths many surprises, some of which are pleasant with a touch of sadness. Today, if somebody in this corner of the world were to evoke the name of the Macaire family, they could only be thinking, normally, of my aging neighbor Paul Macaire and his dear wife. You have to delve into local history to learn that members of this family once attained great world heights… but outside of France. These illustrious Macaire individuals belonged to a celebrated category of French religious expatriates: the Huguenots. Funnily enough, insofar as these Huguenots disappeared from the local scene, the French are not particularly aware of their existence and of the gigantic role they played on the world scene. I would bet that, if you were to carry out random street interviews in nearby Pont-en-Royans (once 100% Protestant), few people would have the vaguest idea of the meaning of the term Huguenot.

In this global context of forgetfulness and false ideas, I am keen to write my Gamone book during the all-too-short time that I remain a lodger here…

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Morning mists and an autumn chill in the air

In French, the word for mists is brume. So, the new calendar that was invented in the wake of the French Revolution of 1789 invented the lovely term Brumaire to designate the autumn month extending from the middle of October to the middle of November.


This morning, my surveillance camera was awoken by the first rays of light streaming down through the mists.


A few seconds later, the romantic charm of the misty morning was shattered by the arrival of an unexpected vehicle, which made such a noise that my dog Fitzroy seemed to fear that we were being attacked by an army tank.


What the hell was that? I suddenly remembered that my neighbor had told me that they were planning on starting the construction, this November, of an outdoor swimming pool! Why not? At a lifestyle level, nothing could be more pleasant than lounging in the sunshine of Choranche on the edge of a pool of clear Alpine water, while a barbecue on the lawn exudes a mouth-watering aroma of grilled sausages. Chilled beer? Or would you maybe prefer a glass of icy Sauvignon?

We often tend to forget that Choranche is just a stone’s throw to the north of Provence. From a sunshine viewpoint, however, you need to be a champion stone-thrower to cover the distance.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A drone flew over Gamone

Using drone images obtained by Hakim, I attempted to learn enough about the Final Cut software to put together the following short video:


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Eternal France

The sun is shining upon Gamone. Yesterday, on the slopes of Choranche, I donned my beekeeper’s clothes and attended the second hands-on session of the local association. I have no images, for the simple reason that our white astronaut uniforms and leather gloves make it difficult to take photos. But it was a thrill to ease apart the wooden frames and to discover that the bees of Choranche had been making hay (honey, rather) while our sun was shining. What fabulous little well-organized stealthy beasts! I’m immensely dismayed by the fear of crushing a single one of them (an inevitable accident) when replacing a frame.

This sunny Sunday afternoon, on TV, I’m watching the Paris-Roubaix cycling race. All’s quiet on the Western Front.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Celebrated Dutch painter of Pont-en-Royans

Bob ten Hoope [1920-2014]

One of the most interesting individuals I encountered when I came to live in Choranche in 1994 was the Dutch painter Bob ten Hoope, who had decided to set up his home in Pont-en-Royans back in 1954. In the beginning, I was impressed by his sketches of men playing cards in a local café.



But I soon learned that this was a small domain of his work, which encompassed large oil paintings of nudes and many local landscapes.


It was through her friendship with Bob ten Hoope that the sculptor Tineke Bot discovered this region, and decided to settle down in Choranche.

                        — photo by Roger Latton [2013]

The last time I saw Bob, maybe a decade ago, he had set up his easel and painting material on the Rouillard Bridge, just down the road from my place. He was already afflicted with arthritis in his hands, making it extremely difficult for him to carry on painting. Finally, he decided to move back up to his native land.



And that is where he died, last Saturday, 18 January 2014.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gamone panorama

My English cousin Roger Latton (on my paternal Pickering line) came to visit me last summer, with his wife Sue. An excellent photographer, he has just sent me this splendid panoramic image of the Bourne Valley at the level of Gamone, taken from the Croix de Toutes Aures (a spot just above my property):

Click to enlarge
On the left, there’s a corner of the cliffs of Presles. In the middle, the Cournouze promontory is crowned by clouds. On the right, the Bourne Valley is closed by the twin mountains of the Barret and the Trois-Châteaux. This is surely the most spectacular photo of my corner of the world that I've ever seen. Bravo, cousin Roger!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Authenticity versus decoration

Following up on my previous blog post [display], I wish to tackle here the interesting questions of basic distinctions—both structural and purely visual—between an authentic old-fashioned wood-burning oven, on the one hand, and a trivially-decorated concrete shit-house, on the other. In a nutshell, it’s the same kind of distinction that exists between two vastly different kinds of bread that we encounter these days. Once upon a time, in France, loaves of bread were generally round or oblong.




Industrial sliced bread (of the kind I recently purchased for my Australian visitors at Xmas) then arrived on the scene… without making any kind of gigantic impact in France.


Notice the striking geometrical contrast between the lovely curves of old-fashioned bread and the harsh rectangularity of the plastic-enclosed industrial product. That’s exactly the distinction that concerns me between a nice old-style stone oven and the nasty flat rectangular shit-house shape that arises inevitably when you’re tempted to install your bread oven inside an external structure made out of so-called CMUs (concrete masonry units) of the kind used to erect modern housing.


Now, I’m not saying that everything of a flat rectangular kind is necessarily ugly in the bread oven domain. That would be a stupid evaluation of the historical situation, because countless ancient bread ovens were incorporated into farmhouses of a basically rectangular architecture. All I’m trying to say is that we should strive to steer clear, as far as possible, of the ugly shit-house shape derived from the use of CMUs.

In the catalogue of examples from the oven manufacturer, let’s start with the worst. Here’s what I would call a Mickey Mouse oven:


I have the impression that a pizza emerging from such a flimsy oven (if ever such an emergence were indeed possible) would have a curious flavor of lollipops. Such an oven might maybe produce cup cakes (?), but nothing more substantial.

This second example embarrasses me a lot, because I must admit that my Photoshop vision of a “dressed up” wood oven in my Gamone cellar was largely inspired by the following esthetic atrocity, which stinks of pretentious nouveaux riches design:


Fortunately, not everything is mildly nauseating in the manufacturer’s photo album. Here’s an oven that I would qualify as “heavy-handed, but not at all bad”:


And here’s a second example that I would qualify as “bad at the bottom, but quite good at the top”:


From a design viewpoint, the creator of a structure housing a wood-fuelled oven should do his utmost to move away from the flat verticality of the amorphous shit-house model, and he should make the structure attractive without any need for abominable decoration. In the context of this noble ambition, a fundamental factor is the nature and quality of the building materials. You can’t build the Parthenon using nothing more than CMUs and a painted plaster coating.

Great news!  Yesterday afternoon, I was thrilled to learn, by chance, that there’s a supply of superb construction stones just a few kilometres away from Gamone, in the village of Auberives-en-Royans. The stone costs next to nothing, but there’s a hitch. The purchaser has to sort through the huge pile of stone in order to to extract the actual fragments that he wishes to purchase. So, next spring, I foresee long hours spent in the Auberives quarry, with my Kangoo and my trailer in the background. Meanwhile, here’s a specimen of this wonderful limestone that I brought back from Auberives yesterday afternoon:


Insofar as one might fall in love with stone, I fell in love immediately, yesterday afternoon, with this magnificent limestone product. Admire its cream-hued density. The firm at Auberives, Fromant (my enemy, a few years ago, in the battle—which we won—to prevent quarrying next to Gamone), designates this stone as Rencurel (the next village up from Choranche). I learned with stupefaction that the small quarry in question belonged to my former friend Roger Zanella [deceased a few years ago and buried in the cemetery of Choranche], who was one of my primary contacts during my installation at Gamone. (I could talk for ages about my friendly contacts with Roger.) If indeed Roger’s limestone were soon to house my bread oven at Gamone, that would be (in my mind) a minor but magnificent miracle. In the case of Roger Zanella (a native of the Vercors, of the Bourne, and a celebrated hunter), all was authenticity. There was no place for decoration.

For my future wood-fuelled oven, I'll have to select and bring back to Gamone an adequate stock of this splendid Rencurel limestone. Then, starting next Spring, I'll erect patiently my Gamone bread oven—day by day, stone by stone—which will emerge slowly with all the sensuous pastel-hued roundness of a nicely-baked female from Auguste Renoir.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fire in Choranche

There are no longer many old buildings in the village of Choranche. So, it’s a pity to see one of them destroyed by fire.


The shabby Café du Centre was run for years by a charming lady, Paulette Chomette, who died earlier this year.


I had often thought that it would great for the life of the village if this old café were to be restored in one way or another. For the moment, I have no idea of the extent of structural damage to the interior of the building, but I guess it’s too late, sadly, to imagine that the old café might be brought back to life.

Here's an image of the café taken by Google Maps in May 2013:


Friday, October 25, 2013

Choranche pathways

In my blog post of 18 September 2013 entitled Country lanes [display], I indicated that the mayor of Choranche and his municipal councillors may have stirred up a hornet’s nest when they decided to open a public enquiry into the possibility of transferring the ownership of various public pathways into private hands… and, particularly, into the hands of the mayor himself (a cattle farmer) and some of his close councillors. Well, the "poor fellow" hit the jackpot! And everything is blowing up in his face… to the amusement of rural newcomers such as myself.

As I suggested in the above-mentioned blog post, I’m not experienced in grassroots political activism, and I’m simply too old to get involved in such stuff. Besides, it’s difficult for me to tolerate people whom I look upon as fools. My personality is not exactly that of a diplomat, and I soon get hot under the collar when I find myself in opposition with the opinions of other people. Let’s say that the Creator never intended that a lowly earthling such as me should get involved in any kind of politics. (In fact, God once suggested that I might be better off getting involved in the priesthood, until I told him to kindly fuck off, and allow me to make up my own mind about what I should do with my life.)

Let me get back (before being drawn into the higher realms of theology) to what I was about to say: namely, that I’m not in fact one of the revolutionary host who have been marching past our village hall with pitchforks in their hands, ready to storm the Bastille if ever our mayor refused to liberate the pathways of Choranche. But I approve wholeheartedly of all that they’re doing, with great skill and determination, and I’m lending a constant hand in the backdrops. In other words, I’m just as liable as any of them to be guillotined by the authorities, or maybe assassinated by furious peasants.


This afternoon,  down at the Rouillard Bridge, in glorious weather, I met up with six friendly fellow citizens of Choranche: Aimée and Bernard Duret (owners of a lovely guesthouse in the village), Henri-Jacques Sentis (former mayor of Choranche), Georges Marbach (internationally-renowned speleologist) and my close friends Tineke Bot and Serge Bellier. Our mission was to explore Greenery Lane: the pathway that was the subject of a document that has received enthusiastic reactions at all levels, from the community of municipalities alongside the Bourne, right up to the Vercors Regional Park. You see, although I quickly lose control of the situation when I try to speak with others, I remain a perfectly competent writer (often with the help of Christine and Emmanuelle), capable of winning friends and influencing people. And my simple paper on Greenery Lane (for which no personal credit is due) apparently rang a bell in the minds of many folk.

This afternoon’s mission was a total success. Not only did my friends discover all kinds of visual hints (under the expert guidance of Henri-Jacques) enabling them to detect the existence of the ancient weed-covered pathway as it winds up the slopes, but they started to clean it up, cutting away piles of branches and throwing boulders out of the way.

At one point, we ran into a couple of strands of barbed wire, blocking the pathway, dating from the time when my neighbor Gérard Magnat had cattle. Earlier in the day, I had phoned Gérard, who confirmed that we were free to cut through this barbed wire. So, in front of a bank of cameras (well, let’s say, at least one smartphone), I took a pair of wire-cutters out of my bag and cut through the barbed wire, saying: “I declare officially that Greenery Lane has been reopened.” The crowds cheered, and my donkey Moshé brayed. Champagne flowed… at least in our minds. It was a lovely afternoon. And Greenery Lane will soon become a magnificent pathway for romantic wanderers.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Collision with a cloud

I didn't hear the noise of the impact, but my photo proves that the catastrophe did in fact occur... this afternoon, at an undetermined moment.


A low-flying cloud apparently hit the hill just opposite Gamone, and then subsided into the Cirque de Choranche, where it is henceforth firmly entrenched. The cloud has descended upon a rural pathway, blocking it completely. The mayor has called upon emergency services, equipped with helicopters, to see if they can dislodge the cloud, which threatens citizens of the commune with its terrifying vaporousness.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Country lanes

Here in the Old World, the rural landscape has naturally inherited a vast assortment of ancient and less ancient man-made features. This is particularly true in the case of thoroughfares. In south-west England, for example, I've always had the impression that the main roads between big towns are often simply macadamized transformations of the old pathways used by horse-drawn vehicles. Passengers on the upper level of double-decker buses hurtling along such country roads are anguished by the experience of brushing up against overhanging branches of trees. On my few occasions of moving around in such settings in Britain, I've often had feelings of claustrophobia, and wondered what would happen if a driver were to find he had a flat tyre on a narrow road of this kind. The truth of the matter, I think, is that well-heeled Brits in this part of the world drive expensive vehicles that simply don't break down... As for the rest of humanity, they're no doubt smelly creatures from the mainland continent. So, as Shakespeare hinted, all's well that ends well.

Here in France, fortunately, narrow major roads of that British kind do not exist, since the state has systematically intervened to make sure that the public administration can knock down old buildings and acquire the necessary land surface to create thoroughfares of a decent width. And users of our rural roads include, of course, not merely local residents, tradesmen and tourists, but agricultural workers as well.

In the middle of summer, the mayor of Choranche (an agriculturalist) decided to set up an official enquiry into the idea of selling off some of the ancient public paths in Choranche. In the context of the enquiry, which culminated in a public meeting last Monday evening, residents of the commune (a hundred or so individuals) were surprised to discover that there had never been many significant requests to privatize parts of our public domain, apart from a few flagrant cases of tiny sections of paths that happened to pass uncomfortably close (for certain residents) to their houses... for the obvious reason that, once upon a time, householders were more than happy to have a track from their front door to the village.

In fact, the only noteworthy case of a lengthy segment of a public lane crossing a large area of privately-owned land concerns land owned by... the mayor himself! Insofar as it's thinkable that the mayor may have taken advantage of his elected role to tackle a purely personal problem (I hasten to point out that I totally refrain from expressing publicly my personal opinion on this matter), we might well be heading towards a situation in which the conclusions of the ongoing enquiry will be simply nullified by an administrative tribunal invoked by citizens who feel that the mayor has gone too far.

Aware that this official enquiry had been set up, I hastened to write a document aimed at protecting and indeed enhancing the public nature of the marvelous path that runs along the crest of the hill up behind Gamone. Known in olden times as Greenery Lane (le chemin du Vert), this ancient path—whose geographical contours remain perfectly detectable—was a segment of the principal itinerary between Pont-en-Royans and Presles. It came as no surprise to the mayor of Choranche to see me submit to the enquiry a document concerning Greenery Lane, because he knows that I've been trying for years to promote the idea of removing weeds from this track, setting up pathway signs, and encouraging hikers to discover this fabulous itinerary. Click here to download a PDF copy (with photos) of my 22-page French-language paper on Greenery Lane.

In fact, since I have to climb up the steep hill behind my house (donkey territory) to reach Greenery Lane, I don't wander up there very often. Over the last 20 years, my preferred pathway for almost daily walks—once with my dear departed Sophia, now with Fitzroy—is Gamone Lane, which is the non-macadamized extension, further up the slopes in the direction of Presles, of the roadway that leads up to my house and the neighboring Ageron property.

A fortnight ago, when I was wandering exceptionally up along Greenery Lane, I discovered an excellent viewpoint down onto my everyday Gamone Lane (the pathway crossing the slopes).


These ancient rural lanes are patrimonial treasures, which must continue to belong to all of us, both residents and visitors. The idea of privatizing and selling them off is utter heresy. Fortunately, there are now so many informed and patrimonially-sensitive citizens dwelling in this part of the world that the mayor's crazy intentions are surely doomed to fail.

There will be municipal elections in France early next year. Some of us who've attempted to do the electoral arithmetic for Choranche conclude sadly that the commune has a sufficient quantity of conservative old-timers to guarantee the reelection of the present mayor. Fair enough. Enlightened citizens—most often "foreigners" whose ancestors were born in faraway places beyond the tiny confines of Choranche—will continue to oppose any stupid attempt to sell off our country lanes.