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Village Life in Southern France

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Village Life in Southern France


I am overwhelmingly impressed by the quietude and quaintness of village life in the South of France. I am in Anduze now- I don’t know if anyone has ever even heard of this place- and I feel as if I am in a world apart from the information that comes flying over my computer screen. News of this and blog posts of that . . . Andy is in the Philippines making jokes about vagina repair services, Ubertramp is in England doing some wild things with his website, and I am sitting in this nowhere land that is hemmed in by large granite cliffs that block out the world. I write on my website about what I am doing, but I fail to believe that anyone is out there beyond the cliffs to read it. I have found the peak of seclusion.

France.

This is the land of legend and lore. There is a landscape behind the fairy tales and Disney cartoons that adores the minds of the American child. This landscape is meant to simply represent the Far Away, it is suppose to be the neutral environment upon which anything can happen- this place is France. I jumped with a start the other day when I came to realize that most of my deep recollections of old stories and legends probably originated in France and Germany. . . when I think back to the bedtime stories that my parents would read to me, I realize that the images and landscapes that I took with me into sleep were from France. I walk through this narrow streets as if in a childhood dream. This is a land of magic, mystical forests, and ancient castles. Things happened here- everywhere. I want to climb every hill and ford every river to discover what lays on the other side- to find out what residues from times long gone still simmer.


Muslims selling vegetables in Anduze, France


Anduze is called the door of Cevennes, as it is the gateway to the southern mountains of France. The soaring cliffs demand that everything that goes into the mountains must come through this village first. To show the world how important this little town is, a long-gone mayor of the 17thcentury decided that he would bring something from China to display in the streets. The reasoning being that if a European village had something from China four hundred years ago then it must be important. So a little Chinese pagoda is now on display in the center of Anduze. It is still there, and Anduze is still thought to be important because of it.

The Chinese pagoda that was shipped from China in the 17th century to prove Anduze’s importance


I am really taken aback by this amazing little village. Everybody seems to know everyone else, the streets and buildings are as they were in medieval times, and there are stories which demand to be heard from every notch in the town. This place is living history.

The people in Anduze also look as ancient as the village itself. Their faces are misshapen to extremes: large cow eyes peer out of elongated, impossibly thin faces, fat heads give way to pointy ears and bald heads with scraggly locks of hair hanging oddly off the sides, and teeth adorn the mouths of but a few of the villages residents. The people here look as if they were taken out of medieval fairy tale . . . and they probably were.

Drawing by Mira from Wanderjahr Jill of a French man

Mira was amazed when she first began taking in the contorted faces of village France. “I use to think that the faces in impressionist paintings were exaggerations,” she said, “but these people have the same faces as in the paintings. The impressionists were not exaggerating, the people really do look like that.”

It is true, these small village French look as if they stepped out of the ages. I am amazed every time I step out into these streets.

Ancient market place in Anduze, France. The people sell their wares here as they did in the 13th century.


For more photos from around France go to: Photographs from France

Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Anduze, France
December 17, 2007


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Filed under: Europe, France, History

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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