à la gare

January 24, 2013

1ground floor

Was glad to get a chance to see this station again. Avignon TGV is a 10 minute bus ride from the centre of town – just 3 euro for a return ticket – and it’s worth a visit even if train travel is not for you. The article by Jonathan Glancey gives a good insight into the design and construction of the 3 new build stations – Avignon, Valence and Aix en Provence – on the TGV-Med Service swooping down to Marseilles. Of course, stations are for travellers so need to function in terms of organization – visit the ladies and see how efficiently Madame manages it – as well as clarity of information and circulation.On a busy morning in early January. there was plenty of room, both standing and seating, for travellers after the holiday break and those travelling for business.

2long view

Some empty space offers the opportunity to appreciate the surfaces both horizontal and vertical. Attractive and practical – there’s plenty of natural light flooding through the curved apertures . . . .

3 short view

. . .  the landscape that greets the traveller is also sleek, organised, stylish and seamless. Lines of poplars are expertly topped to give a graphic visual quality interfaced with slower growing evergreen cypress.

4 poplars1

5 poplars

The main view from the station building to the route to the town shows the large classical gates forming a definition to the contemporary water course axis. The canals had just had their winter clean.

6canal winter

In summer, the water feature looks like this . . . . forms of typha and lilies bridge the decorative look created by large vases of Nerium oleanders.

canal summer

Some areas are more natural like this view to the east. The balance is just right.


roof line

The cathedral ceiling emphasises the linear feel. And the current photography exhibition is cleverly hung on the curved walls on the eye line of those using the stairs, elevators and first floor landing which access the platforms.


On the first floor, travellers can wait in the warm and the dry for their  trains. Admittedly, the timber deck type platform surface was covered in frost. Very slippery – the only problem that I experienced.


No misdirections in reference to the choice of poem – all plain sailing and very smooth, thank you SNCF (unlike recent trips on Eurostar!).

May they stumble, stage by stage
On an endless Pilgrimage
Dawn and dusk, mile after mile
At each and every step a stile
At each and every step withal
May they catch their feet and fall
At each and every fall they take
May a bone within them break
And may the bone that breaks within
Not be, for variations sake
Now rib, now thigh, now arm, now shin
but always, without fail, the NECK  Robert Graves  The Travellers’ Curse after Misdirection

being a tourist

August 25, 2012

Friday, in Béziers, means stalls along the Allées Paul –Riquet offering flowers and plants for inside and out. The 19 C theatre sits at the elevated north end – pretty.

If you purchase some stems, branches, pots then you can choose complimentary ribbon as part of the packaging.

On offer are plugs of vegetables ready for autumn planting such as brussels sprouts which have become rather ‘the thing’  . . . .

. . and varieties of salad attractively displayed. There’s another great market in Place David-d’Angers on Friday mornings but don’t spread it around!  Wandering around the narrow streets, decorative compositions offer themselves up for a shot . . .

. . . .   a roof revamp that looks like lace . . .

. . .  and something tiny watching the caged birds on the balcony opposite. A little out of focus but worthy  . . .

. . .   around Cathedrale St-Nazaire, there’s good use of Caisse de Versailles to denote spatial areas. Well scaled and not looking too much like plastic although they are of course. Town’s busying up so straight off to the beach at  Sérignan where the salt marsh is erupting into a vision of mauve . . .

. .  limonium and scirpus and something that looks like a yellow flowering samphire.

Beach and sea pretty perfect and just a short amusing piece by Pam Hughes.

I carry a bag

Brie, rillettes, saucisson sec,

I sing. You glower. Pam Hughes  Dieppe Shopping

parks are for people

June 25, 2012

In Béziers, clouds of scent waft off the Tilia argentea group standing  sentinel by the entrance to the park – Plateau des Poètes  – that runs on from the main axis, Allées Paul-Rique, through the smart part of town.  It’s thought that  the landscape designer Frederic Law Olmstead honed the phrase ‘Parks are for People’ but research doesn’t provide concrete proof. Anyway, it’s a good phase and Olmstead’s Central Park  works today just as well as when first designed and constructed years ago. Spending some time in this open green space in ‘edgy’ (as G describes it) Béziers, I was taken with the clear usefulness of the park shown by locals of all ages,  enjoying all aspects.  Aspects or elements that have become known expectations. So, there are garden rooms , which family groups can inhabit, in privacy . . .

. .  and monuments and memorials – both contemporary in style and the more traditional – showing quite different forms of craftsmanship and decoration, or the lack of it . . .

. . .   at the rear of monuments – the hidden side – all ages seem to feel more relaxed and willing to intermingle – the fronts being imposing deter human informality. Spacious lawn areas, if shaded sufficiently,  are confidently inhabited by large ethnic family groups  . . .

. .  football goes on around the plinths and busts of the poets. Plinths make a good goal post . . .

. . information is a necessity and horticultural expertise is expected as shown by the pruned juniper in the Japanese manner . . .  and newly planted bedding around some fairly ugly cactus.

Water is an expected element in a large public park as both good for reflections and to reflect upon  . . .

. . and to amaze in the magnificence of construction and impact.

An informal but also formal rill – good for toy boats perhaps – seems forgotten under the Cedar of Lebanon.

Scuptural forms always figure in public space. Atlas, being manly, and being a Titan, is a necessary component in the Fountaine de Ttitan designed by Injalert . .

. .    simple jostling around tusselling with others is all part of enjoying the freedom within the larger scale open space of an urban park. It’s also the place where others can be watched!  We watch others to learn after all . . .

. . . and what fun to roll down grassy slopes without a care in the world.

‘A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man’s life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars’.  Henry David Thoreau

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