Showing posts with label Presles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Presles. Show all posts

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Red cliffs in the winter sunset

At this time of the year, I don't usually drive across in the vicinity of Châtelus, on the other side of the Bourne. But I went across there a few days ago for the combined luncheon for the senior citizens of our three neighboring villages: Châtelus, Choranche and Presles. The food (prepared by a restaurant in the nearby village of Saint-Romans) was excellent, but I was dismayed to find that conversation was ruled out through the presence of a DJ who did his best to make everybody dance and sing. On the way home, I was able to take a lovely photo of the cliffs above Choranche in the direction of Presles.

[Click to enlarge]

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Helicopter territory

All morning, a red and yellow helicopter has been hovering spasmodically in the vicinity of the Tina Dalle cliffs, above Choranche, which are a popular site for novice climbers.

Finally, I grabbed my camera and drove up there, to see what might be happening. Reaching Presles, I found the helicopter parked in an open field, while its uniformed occupants were seated out on the grass, engaged in serious discussions, with lots of gesticulations. They appear to be carrying out training exercises for pilots. Then they jumped in and took off towards the south, no doubt to refuel, since they reappeared in the skies of Choranche and Presles some ten minutes later.

Although the landscape was hazy, I took advantage of my excursion to take a few photos.

Seen from up there, my familiar and fabulous Cournouze [see the red-sunlit splash image at the top of this Antipodes blog] looks like a mediocre hunk of rock on top of a wooded cone.

All the topological details that are so familiar when seen my house at Gamone are reduced to tiny blobs, not easy to identify.

This sign, halfway down the slopes, designates crossroads where all the surrounding directions ("toutes aures") are visible.

On one side of this spot, the road between Choranche and Presles forms a hairpin bend.

The plateau of Presles is still far above us.

From this place, you have a splendid view of two mountains that are my close neighbors down in the valley. In the narrow gap between the Baret (left) and the Trois-Châteaux (right), just a few hundred meters away from Gamone, the Bourne flows down from Choranche to Pont-en-Royans. And the road, too, goes through that gap.

CORRECTION: The mayor of Choranche, Bernard Bourne, dropped in at Gamone yesterday afternoon to ask for my opinion concerning an ancient public pathway up on the crest above my house. He wanted to know, in particular, if I would be happy if the municipality were to privatize that old pathway (apparently this is a feasible operation), giving me half of the privatized surface above my property, and attributing the other half to my neighbor Gérard Magnat. In a forthcoming blog post, I'll explain why I prefer by far (not surprisingly) that this wonderful pathway remains part of the public heritage of Choranche.

Towards the end of my friendly discussion with Bernard, I happened to mention the noisy helicopter that had been hovering for hours, throughout the morning, around the magnificent Tina Dalle site. In his capacity as mayor, Bernard was able to tell me exactly what it was all about. The evening before yesterday, residents of that cliff-side zone of Presles had noticed an apparently-abandoned vehicle, and informed the gendarmes, who promptly called in the red-and-yellow mountain-security helicopter. They discovered the body of a 56-year-old guy at the bottom of the cliffs, on the territory of Choranche (vertical cliffs often serve as municipal boundaries), and the gendarmes soon concluded that they were faced with a suicide case. [Weirdly, this happened at almost the same time that other gendarmes and another helicopter crew were discovering the remains of a murdered 17-year-old jogger in the Ardèche town of Tournon, opposite the famous vineyards of Tain-l'Hermitage, less than an hour's drive from here.] Yesterday, above the vertiginous Tina Dalle boundary between Presles and Choranche, the helicopter was no doubt searching for evidential items that might have been discarded by the fellow or torn from his clothes during his rocky descent to death.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wintry view from behind the house

Normally, I wouldn't think of strolling up behind the house and taking a photo in the direction of the cliffs of Presles. If I did so this afternoon, it was because I happened to be up there taking photos of my donkeys, and I was intrigued by the thick layer of snow remaining on my roof (which proves that my thermal insulation is sound) combined with the relative absence of snow on the slopes beyond Gamone Creek, and the patches of blue sky smiling out from behind the clouds above the plateau of the Coulmes (alongside Presles).

This photo is interesting in that it demonstrates how, in a mountainous region, a field of vision can change abruptly from one spot to another. In the case of this scene, somebody down in front of my house, just a few meters away from where I was standing to take this photo, would fail to see that giant cliff up in the top left-hand corner.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Moshé's future companion

My donkey Moshé has been upset (disoriented ) by the recent disappearance of his old companion Mandrin.

It's a well-known fact that donkeys don't like to lead a solitary existence, so I immediately started looking around for an animal to keep him company. As of today, I'm happy to have found an ideal solution: a baby female donkey named Fanette who'll be available (that is, weaned) by the middle of October. This afternoon, Fanette's breeder, a young woman from Presles named Sylvie Rozand, introduced me to the beautiful little donkey.

In October, to get Fanette down to Gamone, Sylvie and I plan to walk down the slopes from Presles to Choranche. The road starts with a short but difficult section comprising a tunnel. Normally, donkeys refuse to enter tunnels, just as they refuse to cross streams. Sylvie has done this journey already. She tells me that Margot can be coaxed into entering this tunnel, while Nina and her daughter can be roped up behind and led along by Margot.

Fanette's father is a Provençal donkey owned by my Châtelus neighbor Jean-Marie Huillier (in fact, Sylvie's cousin), whose farm is located just across the Bourne from Gamone. By chance, I've been saying hello to this male donkey for ages, every time I drive across to Châtelus.

After leaving the donkeys, Sylvie invited me for a drink with her parents, in front of their old farmhouse in the village of Presles. My daughter Manya and I have known this couple for ages.

They're natives of Presles and traditional farmers, members of a race that has almost disappeared. Sylvie's companion happens to be a Welshman named William, whom I've not yet met. He's a professional shepherd, stationed for the moment in an Alpine context with a huge flock of sheep. In French, the operation that consists of a shepherd and his dogs leading their flock up to high-altitude pastures for the summer months is referred to as alpage. Then they all come down again to the valley as soon as the first snow appears.

This afternoon, I received an open invitation from William and Sylvie to drive up to spend a couple of days in their Alpine cabin, some three hours away from here by car. I hope I'll be able to accept this invitation, along with my dog Sophia. If so, a surprise awaits us. We'll be returning to Gamone with another companion, for Sophia: a pure-bred Border Collie pup.