Sunday, January 25, 2009

My European Trip 20 -- Aveyron

一座中世纪的老房子,老妈妈站在阳台朝我招手, “漂亮的姑娘,我要为你带上我最美的微笑。” 那微笑,纯净,宁和,充满着爱与善意。 那一刻,我突然觉得很幸福。
-- 题记


(When strolling in the old town of Villefranche, I was attracted by a medieval house and stopped to take pictures. Then an elder lady cheerily greeted me from the balcony, "little belle, I wear my best smile for you." Immediately I felt touched for the purity and affection behind her sincere smile, -- a smile brimming with love.)

When every village in Provence was filled with tourists in the summer, I chose Aveyron instead to breathe France. Note that it is NOT the famous Avignon at Provence, but Aveyron, -- though similar pronunciation. Tested many times, whenever I accurately spoke of "Aveyron", people -- both French and Non-French -- replied, "you say Avignon?" For non-French tourists, they probably only know Provence's Avignon, well-known for art and lavender. But for French locals, I guess, they might not believe a Chinese girl speaking no French could go to such a genuine rural area.

Aveyron, with Rodez at its center, is perhaps the least-known state (département) in France, one the biggest and most sparsely populated. "Even in the summer," local people say, "there was still more cows here than tourists."

(Goats, cows, and sheep are everywhere in Aveyron. At the end of the trip, many flavors of country life like freeze shots were embedded in my mind, becoming the memory of France.)

However it was such a rewarding and unforgettable trip, full of pleasant surprises.

This is La France profonde, the heartland, which Parisians seldom visit and cannot fathom, where there is some of the world's most stunning, geologically diverse countryside -- much of it unspoiled.
This sparsely populated, often-overlooked area in southern France embraces a gorgeous, varied landscape, medieval villages and incomparable food and lodging.

(A local-style dwelling at Sauveterre, Aveyron.)

(A guest house at Sauveterre. The bedroom gives you an illusion as if you were living in Van Gogh's BEDROOM.)

Averyron is a
département with the highest concentration of beautiful villages. Can you imagine there are ten villages in Aveyron which meet the 30-odd criteria required to be officially included among "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" (Most Beautiful Villages of France)?


I sincerely invite you to travel with me to Aveyron, a place with a rare relationship to time -- an intimate, uninterrupted connection to the past, a place created by people who didn't even have a word for the future. The only existing and important moment is NOW. Let's go to three "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France": Najac, Sauveterre, and Belcastel.

Next Stop: Najac

Photographed by Jennie Bai.

Copyright ©Jennie Bai. All Rights Reserved.

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