Your search for France found 36 posts. Select title from list or scroll down to see posts.
 
Sort:  Newest firstNewest   Oldest firstOldest   A to Z   Z to A
 
Jul 19, 2004, Mon
Jul 19, 2004
  TMB, France, Chamonix, Aiguille du Midi  
Jul 20, 2004, Tue
The start of the TMB      France, Hike, The Alps, TMB  
Jul 20, 2004
  France, Hike, The Alps, TMB  
Jul 21, 2004, Wed
TMB: Miage to La Balme      France, Hike, The Alps, TMB  
Jul 21, 2004
  France, Hike, The Alps, TMB  
Jul 22, 2004, Thu
TMB      France, Hike, The Alps, TMB  
Jul 22, 2004
  France, Hike, The Alps, TMB  
Jul 29, 2004, Thu
Paris      France, Paris  
Jul 29, 2004
  France, Paris  
Jul 29, 2004, Thu
Paris      France, Paris  
Jul 29, 2004
  France, Paris  
Jul 30, 2004, Fri
Paris      Paris, France  
Jul 30, 2004
  Paris, France  
Aug 1, 2004, Sun
Paris      France, Paris  
Aug 1, 2004
  France, Paris  
Jul 31, 2009, Fri
Jul 31, 2009
  Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, France  
Aug 1, 2009, Sat
Aug 1, 2009
  Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, France  
Sep 24, 2017, Sun
Au revoir      France  
Sep 24, 2017
  France  
Sep 25, 2017, Mon
Nice night      Nice, France  
Sep 25, 2017
  Nice, France  
Sep 26, 2017, Tue
Nice to Corsica      Nice, France, Corsica, Bastia  
Sep 26, 2017
  Nice, France, Corsica, Bastia  
Sep 27, 2017, Wed
Bastia      Corsica, Bastia, France  
Sep 27, 2017
  Corsica, Bastia, France  
Sep 28, 2017, Thu
The train to Ajaccio      Corsica, Ajaccio, France  
Sep 28, 2017
  Corsica, Ajaccio, France  
Sep 29, 2017, Fri
Ajaccio      France, Corsica, Ajaccio  
Sep 29, 2017
  France, Corsica, Ajaccio  
Sep 30, 2017, Sat
Torra di a Parata      France, Corsica, Ajaccio  
Sep 30, 2017
  France, Corsica, Ajaccio  
Oct 1, 2017, Sun
Chemin des Cretes      France, Corsica, Ajaccio  
Oct 1, 2017
  France, Corsica, Ajaccio  
Oct 2, 2017, Mon
Oct 2, 2017
  France, Corsica, Algajola, US Politics, Porto  
Oct 3, 2017, Tue
L'Ile-Rousse      L'Ile Rousse, France, Corsica, Algajola  
Oct 3, 2017
  L'Ile Rousse, France, Corsica, Algajola  
Oct 4, 2017, Wed
Corsican hill towns      France, Corsica  
Oct 4, 2017
  France, Corsica  
Oct 5, 2017, Thu
Oct 5, 2017
  Hike, Serriera, Porto, France, Corsica, Cars  
Oct 6, 2017, Fri
Oct 6, 2017
  France, Corsica, Cars, Zonza  
Oct 7, 2017, Sat
Col de Bavella      Hike, Zonza, France, Corsica, Cars  
Oct 7, 2017
  Hike, Zonza, France, Corsica, Cars  
Oct 8, 2017, Sun
Zonza and the GR20      Zonza, France, Corsica  
Oct 8, 2017
  Zonza, France, Corsica  
Oct 9, 2017, Mon
Oct 9, 2017
  France, Corsica, Bonifacio  
Oct 10, 2017, Tue
Oct 10, 2017
  France, Corsica, Bonifacio  
Oct 11, 2017, Wed
Oct 11, 2017
  France, Corsica, Bonifacio  
Oct 12, 2017, Thu
Oct 12, 2017
  France, Ajaccio, Toulon  
Oct 13, 2017, Fri
Toulon petit dejeuner      Toulon, Lyon, France  
Oct 13, 2017
  Toulon, Lyon, France  
Oct 14, 2017, Sat
Streets and traboules of Lyon      Lyon, France  
Oct 14, 2017
  Lyon, France  
Oct 15, 2017, Sun
Contemporary art at the MAC      France, Art, Lyon  
Oct 15, 2017
  France, Art, Lyon  
Oct 16, 2017, Mon
Musee des Beaux Arts      France, Art, Lyon  
Oct 16, 2017
  France, Art, Lyon  
Oct 16, 2017, Mon
Lyon at Night      France, Lyon  
Oct 16, 2017
  France, Lyon  
Oct 17, 2017, Tue
Lyon's Notre-Dame      Lyon, France  
Oct 17, 2017
  Lyon, France  
Oct 3, 2018, Wed
Another thing to see      France  
Oct 3, 2018
  France  
 
 
 

Aiguille du Midi

 
July 19, 2004   TMB, France, Chamonix, Aiguille du Midi
 
 

While in Chamonix Linda and I take the cable cars up to the Aiguille du Midi.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Cables up to the Aiguille du Midi      
Let your eyes follow the cables up to the top where that tiny pointy thing is the destination.
 
Cables up to the Aiguille du Midi      
Let your eyes follow the cables up to the top where that tiny pointy thing is the destination.
 
Cables up to the Aiguille du Midi      
Let your eyes follow the cables up to the top where that tiny pointy thing is the destination.
 
Aiguille du Midi      
 
Aiguille du Midi      
 
Aiguille du Midi      
 
Chamonix valley      
 
Chamonix valley      
 
Chamonix valley      
 
Chamonix valley      
 
Chamonix valley      
 
Chamonix valley      
 
Aiguille du Midi      
 
Aiguille du Midi      
 
Aiguille du Midi      
 
Linda at top      
 
Linda at top      
 
Linda at top      
 
Aiguille du Midi      
The lower section of the Aiguille du Midi is in the foreground and far below is Chamonix, at the bottom of the valley.
 
Aiguille du Midi      
The lower section of the Aiguille du Midi is in the foreground and far below is Chamonix, at the bottom of the valley.
 
Aiguille du Midi      
The lower section of the Aiguille du Midi is in the foreground and far below is Chamonix, at the bottom of the valley.
https://jamesgaston.ca/1521
 
 

The start of the TMB

 
July 20, 2004   France, Hike, The Alps, TMB
 
 

Our first day on the trail is spent hiking to Miage.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Linda and Emily near Miage      
 
Linda and Emily near Miage      
 
Linda and Emily near Miage      
 
Miage view      
 
Miage view      
 
Miage view      
 
Refugio Miage, France      
 
Refugio Miage, France      
 
Refugio Miage, France      
 
View from Miage      
 
View from Miage      
 
View from Miage      
 
Refugio Miage, France      
The places we stayed along the Tour du Mont Blanc hike varied, from very nice to crummy. Refugio Miage was the latter.
 
Refugio Miage, France      
The places we stayed along the Tour du Mont Blanc hike varied, from very nice to crummy. Refugio Miage was the latter.
 
Refugio Miage, France      
The places we stayed along the Tour du Mont Blanc hike varied, from very nice to crummy. Refugio Miage was the latter.
 
TMD day one: destination Miage      
Emily, Linda, and Regina, our three hiking companions.
 
TMD day one: destination Miage      
Emily, Linda, and Regina, our three hiking companions.
 
TMD day one: destination Miage      
Emily, Linda, and Regina, our three hiking companions.
https://jamesgaston.ca/1522
 
 

TMB: Miage to La Balme

 
July 21, 2004   France, Hike, The Alps, TMB
 
 

Today we left Miage to hike to the nicer La Balme.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Refugio Miage, France      
 
Refugio Miage, France      
 
Refugio Miage, France      
 
Emily & Tor, Ref. Miage      
 
Emily & Tor, Ref. Miage      
 
Emily & Tor, Ref. Miage      
 
Refuge Miage      
 
Refuge Miage      
 
Refuge Miage      
 
Tour du Mont Blanc      
 
Tour du Mont Blanc      
 
Tour du Mont Blanc      
 
From Miage to La Balme      
 
From Miage to La Balme      
 
From Miage to La Balme      
 
Linda & Emily heading to La Balme      
 
Linda & Emily heading to La Balme      
 
Linda & Emily heading to La Balme      
 
View from La Balme      
 
View from La Balme      
 
View from La Balme      
 
Tour du Mont Blanc      
 
Tour du Mont Blanc      
 
Tour du Mont Blanc      
https://jamesgaston.ca/1523
 
 

TMB

 
July 22, 2004   France, Hike, The Alps, TMB
 
 

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
La Balme      
 
La Balme      
 
La Balme      
 
Regina, Paul, Emily, and Linda      
 
Regina, Paul, Emily, and Linda      
 
Regina, Paul, Emily, and Linda      
 
La Balme      
 
La Balme      
 
La Balme      
 
The hiking group taking a rest      
 
The hiking group taking a rest      
 
The hiking group taking a rest      
 
Regina @ La Balme      
With Emily and Linda on the stairs.
 
Regina @ La Balme      
With Emily and Linda on the stairs.
 
Regina @ La Balme      
With Emily and Linda on the stairs.
 
La Balme      
 
La Balme      
 
La Balme      
 
Goodbye to La Balme      
Ref La Balme, in the foreground, offered a room of bunk beds plus a good dinner. Nice views from the patio, too.
 
Goodbye to La Balme      
Ref La Balme, in the foreground, offered a room of bunk beds plus a good dinner. Nice views from the patio, too.
 
Goodbye to La Balme      
Ref La Balme, in the foreground, offered a room of bunk beds plus a good dinner. Nice views from the patio, too.
https://jamesgaston.ca/1524
 
 

Paris

 
July 29, 2004   France, Paris
 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
The Louvre      
 
The Louvre      
 
The Louvre      
 
Regina, Linda, & Emily @ Sephora Paris      
 
Regina, Linda, & Emily @ Sephora Paris      
 
Regina, Linda, & Emily @ Sephora Paris      
 

 
https://jamesgaston.ca/1530
 
 

Paris

 
July 29, 2004   France, Paris
 
 

After hiking most of the TMB we ended up in Paris where we did a little sight seeing and shopping.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
The Louvre      
 
The Louvre      
 
The Louvre      
 
Regina, Linda, & Emily @ Sephora Paris      
 
Regina, Linda, & Emily @ Sephora Paris      
 
Regina, Linda, & Emily @ Sephora Paris      
https://jamesgaston.ca/1544
 
 

Paris

 
July 30, 2004   Paris, France
 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Centre Georges Pompidou      
 
Centre Georges Pompidou      
 
Centre Georges Pompidou      
 
The Seine      
 
The Seine      
 
The Seine      
 
Paris      
 
Paris      
 
Paris      
 

 
https://jamesgaston.ca/1531
 
 

Paris

 
August 1, 2004   France, Paris
 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Paris      
 
Paris      
 
Paris      
 
Museum D'Orsay      
 
Museum D'Orsay      
 
Museum D'Orsay      
 

 
https://jamesgaston.ca/1532
 
 

Aiguille du Midi

 
July 31, 2009   Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, France
 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Aiguille du Midi plan      
It's 2009 and we've returned to Chamonix to hike the Haute Route to Zermatt. Gives me a second opportunity to take the cable car to the top and, if weather permits, the tiny cable car all the way to Helbronner in Italy.
 
Aiguille du Midi plan      
It's 2009 and we've returned to Chamonix to hike the Haute Route to Zermatt. Gives me a second opportunity to take the cable car to the top and, if weather permits, the tiny cable car all the way to Helbronner in Italy.
 
Aiguille du Midi plan      
It's 2009 and we've returned to Chamonix to hike the Haute Route to Zermatt. Gives me a second opportunity to take the cable car to the top and, if weather permits, the tiny cable car all the way to Helbronner in Italy.
 
View from hotel room      
 
View from hotel room      
 
View from hotel room      
 
View from the hotel room      
 
View from the hotel room      
 
View from the hotel room      
 
Chamonix      
A river flows through the charming town.
 
Chamonix      
A river flows through the charming town.
 
Chamonix      
A river flows through the charming town.
 

 
https://jamesgaston.ca/1537
 
 

Aiguille du Midi

 
August 1, 2009   Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, France
 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Chamonix valley from cable car      
Even looking through the cable car's scratched and reflective glass it's a great view.
 
Chamonix valley from cable car      
Even looking through the cable car's scratched and reflective glass it's a great view.
 
Chamonix valley from cable car      
Even looking through the cable car's scratched and reflective glass it's a great view.
 
Gingie and me      
Since the weather was perfect (the cable car doesn't run in bad weather) we rode the tiny 4-person car across the glacier from Aiguille du midi to Helbronner. It's f-ing spectacular.
 
Gingie and me      
Since the weather was perfect (the cable car doesn't run in bad weather) we rode the tiny 4-person car across the glacier from Aiguille du midi to Helbronner. It's f-ing spectacular.
 
Gingie and me      
Since the weather was perfect (the cable car doesn't run in bad weather) we rode the tiny 4-person car across the glacier from Aiguille du midi to Helbronner. It's f-ing spectacular.
 
Our cabin mates      
 
Our cabin mates      
 
Our cabin mates      
 

 
https://jamesgaston.ca/1536
 
 

Au revoir

 
September 24, 2017   France
 
 

We are on our way to France.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
YVR      
 
YVR      
 
YVR      
https://jamesgaston.ca/797
 
 

Nice night

 
September 25, 2017   Nice, France
 
 
France

We're in Nice. It is a lovely town with a spacious seaside promenade, charming narrow streets, and tempting sidewalk cafes. Staying a while would be fun but we've a ferry to catch tomorrow.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Nice at night      
 
Nice at night      
 
Nice at night      
 
Paul on Promenade des Anglais      
 
Paul on Promenade des Anglais      
 
Paul on Promenade des Anglais      
 
Notre Dame de Nice      
 
Notre Dame de Nice      
 
Notre Dame de Nice      
 
Notre Dame de Nice      
 
Notre Dame de Nice      
 
Notre Dame de Nice      
 
Fountain in Nice      
 
Fountain in Nice      
 
Fountain in Nice      
https://jamesgaston.ca/739
 
 

Nice to Corsica

 
September 26, 2017   Nice, France, Corsica, Bastia
 
 

Another travel day today, though at least it didn't involve any flying. Instead we took the awkwardly-named but otherwise fine Mega Express 4 ferry from Nice to the island of Corsica where we disembarked at the town of Bastia.

There are a number of ferries connecting the island to continental France and Italy. The ferries vary in how fast they can go. I think this ferry is considered to be fairly fast, it makes the trip in less than 6 hours. The ferry from Ajaccio to Toulon will be an 11 hour overnight sailing.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Nice to Bastia ferry route      
 
Nice to Bastia ferry route      
 
Nice to Bastia ferry route      
 
Nice harbour from ferry      
 
Nice harbour from ferry      
 
Nice harbour from ferry      
 
Paul saying goodbye to Nice      

And hello to Corsica ...
 
Paul saying goodbye to Nice      

And hello to Corsica ...
 
Paul saying goodbye to Nice      

And hello to Corsica ...
 
Corsica & Ile de la Giraglia      
This tiny island is situated off the northern tip of Corsica. It doesn't appear to have much more on it than a light house.
 
Corsica & Ile de la Giraglia      
This tiny island is situated off the northern tip of Corsica. It doesn't appear to have much more on it than a light house.
 
Corsica & Ile de la Giraglia      
This tiny island is situated off the northern tip of Corsica. It doesn't appear to have much more on it than a light house.
 
Pilot boat for Bastia harbour      
As we approached Bastia this small boat raced up to our huge Mega Express 4 ferry. The pilot boat looked like it was going to hit us. Instead the small boat pulled along side and a pilot jumped from it onto our fast-moving ferry.
 
Pilot boat for Bastia harbour      
As we approached Bastia this small boat raced up to our huge Mega Express 4 ferry. The pilot boat looked like it was going to hit us. Instead the small boat pulled along side and a pilot jumped from it onto our fast-moving ferry.
 
Pilot boat for Bastia harbour      
As we approached Bastia this small boat raced up to our huge Mega Express 4 ferry. The pilot boat looked like it was going to hit us. Instead the small boat pulled along side and a pilot jumped from it onto our fast-moving ferry.
 
Bastia      
It was totally sucky for photos as we are facing west into the sun so the sky is blown out and the town is hazy.
 
Bastia      
It was totally sucky for photos as we are facing west into the sun so the sky is blown out and the town is hazy.
 
Bastia      
It was totally sucky for photos as we are facing west into the sun so the sky is blown out and the town is hazy.
 
Harbour      

To get a sense of the size of the ferry this shot shows a similar ferry (same ferry company, Corsica Sardinia Elba Ferries) parked in Bastia's harbour.

Tomorrow we begin exploring Corsica. Fortunately the weather gods are smiling on us.

 
Harbour      

To get a sense of the size of the ferry this shot shows a similar ferry (same ferry company, Corsica Sardinia Elba Ferries) parked in Bastia's harbour.

Tomorrow we begin exploring Corsica. Fortunately the weather gods are smiling on us.

 
Harbour      

To get a sense of the size of the ferry this shot shows a similar ferry (same ferry company, Corsica Sardinia Elba Ferries) parked in Bastia's harbour.

Tomorrow we begin exploring Corsica. Fortunately the weather gods are smiling on us.

 
Ferry docked in Bastia      
 
Ferry docked in Bastia      
 
Ferry docked in Bastia      
https://jamesgaston.ca/740
 
 

Bastia

 
September 27, 2017   Corsica, Bastia, France
 
 

Bastia is a hilly Corsican town, squeezed between the Mediterranean and the Serra di Pignu, a 960 m (3,150 ft) mountain. Bastia has a charming and walk-able old town (assuming you don't mind stairs), with many blocks of fashionable stores and cafes. Though Ajaccio gets more attention in the guidebooks I preferred Bastia. It is just as charming plus it feels less touristy.

Two highlights were the Vieux Port and the Terra Nova neighborhood. The Vieux Port or old harbor is chock-a-block with boats. It is ringed by cafes. The Eglise St-Jean Baptiste towers overhead.

The Terra Nova neighborhood features a citadel, the Cathedrale Ste-Marie, and great views of the city and the blue sea. The citadel was built to satisfy the city's Genoese masters many centuries ago.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Staircase to the citadel      
 
Staircase to the citadel      
 
Staircase to the citadel      
 
Vieux Port      
 
Vieux Port      
 
Vieux Port      
 
Bastia Citadel      
 
Bastia Citadel      
 
Bastia Citadel      
 
Stopping for a snack      
 
Stopping for a snack      
 
Stopping for a snack      
 
Bastia street      
 
Bastia street      
 
Bastia street      
 
Bastia      
 
Bastia      
 
Bastia      
 
Old port of Bastia      
 
Old port of Bastia      
 
Old port of Bastia      
 
Lighthouses at entrance of Vieux Port      
 
Lighthouses at entrance of Vieux Port      
 
Lighthouses at entrance of Vieux Port      
 
Jellyfish in the Vieux Port      
 
Jellyfish in the Vieux Port      
 
Jellyfish in the Vieux Port      
https://jamesgaston.ca/758
 
 

The train to Ajaccio

 
September 28, 2017   Corsica, Ajaccio, France
 
 
Train

Today we caught the train to Ajaccio. The narrow-gauge train, officially called the Chemins de Fer de la Corse, connects Bastia to Ajaccio and Calvi (along with many points in between, of course). It's quite a scenic train trip as it winds through the mountainous center of Corsica.

The photos from the train suffer a bit because the train was moving and the windows were dirty and scratched. There is only so much that a high shutter speed and polarizer can fix.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Narrow-gauge train, Gara di Bastia      
 
Narrow-gauge train, Gara di Bastia      
 
Narrow-gauge train, Gara di Bastia      
 
Narrow-gauge train, Gara di Bastia      
 
Narrow-gauge train, Gara di Bastia      
 
Narrow-gauge train, Gara di Bastia      
 
Corsica as seen from train      
 
Corsica as seen from train      
 
Corsica as seen from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
View from train      
 
Typical train station      
 
Typical train station      
 
Typical train station      
 
Church in Ajaccio, next to our apt      
Our train ride ended in Ajaccio. We then walked about a km from the train station to our apartment, a roomy one bedroom, conveniently and scenically located in the middle of the old Genovese quarter. Its only downside was being on what appears to be Ajaccio's busiest sidewalk-cafe street. It's chock-a-block with restaurants and bars and it's busy until the wee hours. The noise was ok, it's part of being in town, but the cigarette smoke was annoying.
 
Church in Ajaccio, next to our apt      
Our train ride ended in Ajaccio. We then walked about a km from the train station to our apartment, a roomy one bedroom, conveniently and scenically located in the middle of the old Genovese quarter. Its only downside was being on what appears to be Ajaccio's busiest sidewalk-cafe street. It's chock-a-block with restaurants and bars and it's busy until the wee hours. The noise was ok, it's part of being in town, but the cigarette smoke was annoying.
 
Church in Ajaccio, next to our apt      
Our train ride ended in Ajaccio. We then walked about a km from the train station to our apartment, a roomy one bedroom, conveniently and scenically located in the middle of the old Genovese quarter. Its only downside was being on what appears to be Ajaccio's busiest sidewalk-cafe street. It's chock-a-block with restaurants and bars and it's busy until the wee hours. The noise was ok, it's part of being in town, but the cigarette smoke was annoying.
https://jamesgaston.ca/741
 
 

Ajaccio

 
September 29, 2017   France, Corsica, Ajaccio
 
 

Today was a day to explore Ajaccio. After espresso and pastries from the patisserie across the street - I quickly became partial to ambrucciata - we walked along the waterfront, hit the farmers market, ate some charcuterie, and took in some 16th and 17th century art at the museum. Ajaccio is easy getting around, everything is within a few blocks from our apartment, and the sidewalks are overflowing with cafes.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
View from apartment      
Just across the street is a patisserie for espresso and pastries, and two doors to the left is the Eglise St-Jean Baptiste.
 
View from apartment      
Just across the street is a patisserie for espresso and pastries, and two doors to the left is the Eglise St-Jean Baptiste.
 
View from apartment      
Just across the street is a patisserie for espresso and pastries, and two doors to the left is the Eglise St-Jean Baptiste.
 
Ambrucciata, mmmm!      
 
Ambrucciata, mmmm!      
 
Ambrucciata, mmmm!      
 
Ajaccio beach      
 
Ajaccio beach      
 
Ajaccio beach      
 
Charcuterie, a Corsican speciality      
 
Charcuterie, a Corsican speciality      
 
Charcuterie, a Corsican speciality      
 
Olives, olives, olives      
 
Olives, olives, olives      
 
Olives, olives, olives      
 
Palais Fesch Musee de Beaux Arts      
 
Palais Fesch Musee de Beaux Arts      
 
Palais Fesch Musee de Beaux Arts      
 
Allegory of the church of Rome      
 
Allegory of the church of Rome      
 
Allegory of the church of Rome      
 
Two ladies looking out the window      
 
Two ladies looking out the window      
 
Two ladies looking out the window      
 
Paul taking a break      
 
Paul taking a break      
 
Paul taking a break      
https://jamesgaston.ca/759
 
 

Torra di a Parata

 
September 30, 2017   France, Corsica, Ajaccio
 
 

About a half-hour north of Ajaccio is the Tower of Parata, or Torra di a Parata in Corsican. It is an old stone structure sitting on top of a rocky hill. The tower, one of a series, was built around 1550 by the Republic of Genoa to defend against attacks by Barbary pirates.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
The tower and the Sanguinares      
The hill-top tower overlooks the archipelago of the Sanguinares which is composed of four volcanic islands. The largest island has an old lighthouse on its top. None of the islands are inhabited.
 
The tower and the Sanguinares      
The hill-top tower overlooks the archipelago of the Sanguinares which is composed of four volcanic islands. The largest island has an old lighthouse on its top. None of the islands are inhabited.
 
The tower and the Sanguinares      
The hill-top tower overlooks the archipelago of the Sanguinares which is composed of four volcanic islands. The largest island has an old lighthouse on its top. None of the islands are inhabited.
 
Torra di a Parata      

In the far right you can just make out the outskirts of Ajaccio.

If I'd been clever I'd have positioned something in the photo for size relevance, like a person or an umbrella, but in light of that omission I'll say the tower is 12 m (39 ft) in height, so about 3 stories, and it has a diameter of 7.3 m (24 ft) at the roof.

 
Torra di a Parata      

In the far right you can just make out the outskirts of Ajaccio.

If I'd been clever I'd have positioned something in the photo for size relevance, like a person or an umbrella, but in light of that omission I'll say the tower is 12 m (39 ft) in height, so about 3 stories, and it has a diameter of 7.3 m (24 ft) at the roof.

 
Torra di a Parata      

In the far right you can just make out the outskirts of Ajaccio.

If I'd been clever I'd have positioned something in the photo for size relevance, like a person or an umbrella, but in light of that omission I'll say the tower is 12 m (39 ft) in height, so about 3 stories, and it has a diameter of 7.3 m (24 ft) at the roof.

 
Looking northeast from the tower      
 
Looking northeast from the tower      
 
Looking northeast from the tower      
 
Panorama of 5 shots from the tower      
 
Panorama of 5 shots from the tower      
 
Panorama of 5 shots from the tower      
https://jamesgaston.ca/761
 
 

Chemin des Cretes

 
October 1, 2017   France, Corsica, Ajaccio
 
 

While it isn't exactly the GR20 (the 180km trail stretching the length of Corsica from Calenzana to Conca), the Chemin des Cretes, or Path of the Ridges, provided a scenic hike in the green foothills above Ajaccio with glimpses of the city, its beaches, and the gulf of Ajaccio.

Stretching from Calenzana in the north of Corsica to Conca in the south is the famous GR20, a challenging 180 km trail. It takes at least two weeks and involves, among other challenges, ladders and ropes and rocky scrambles. I'm sure it's a wonderful trek but sadly we didn't do it. Instead, today we did the much much shorter Chemin des Cretes (Path of the Ridges) that starts about a half-hours walk from our central-Ajaccio apartment.

The best-known way to explore its interior is the challenging 180km GR20 one of the most famous walking trails in Europe. It stretches from Calenzana in the north to Conca in the south and is considered one of the most difficult long-distance treks on the continent (there are exposed scrambles, and at some points ladders and steel ropes to assist walkers). The whole thing takes at least two weeks, and involves staying in refuges or camping along the way.

Ajaccio itself is flanked by green foothills covered in an aromatic carpet of vegetation and herbs. Beyond them, a rocky ridgeline dramatically pierces the sky and below are beaches of golden sand.

As I headed up through suburban streets to the trailhead of my chosen route, the Chemin des Crtes (Path of the Ridges), I passed statue after statue of Ajaccio's most famous son Napoleon Bonaparte. Given the hero worship of this leader, the fighting spirit of its eco-activists begins to make sense. The route begins opposite the Bois des Anglais, a patch of woodland left over from the island's short stint as a British colony over 200 years ago. At less than 10km it's a much easier prospect than the more famous trail, but as it cuts along the peaks above the coast it offers stunning views for very little effort, and you can finish up with a very civilised drink in a bar in the seaside village of Vignola.

Who could blame them? With the full extent of the gulf of Ajaccio revealed, and the Iles Sanguinaires creeping out onto the horizon, my gaze, too, was fixed out on this tiny rocky archipelago, that breaks off from the mainland at Pointe de la Parata. They're called the Isles of Blood because of the reddish colour they reflect into the sea.

You can get a good look at the islands' wind- and spray-scoured shapes on another, shorter, walk here. Take the number 5 bus from Ajaccio to the start of the waymarked path (in the car park) and it's a 40-minute round trip to the end of the Pointe de la Parata peninsula. Come in the early evening to avoid the tour buses and watch the light play as the sun sets.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Ajaccio as seen from Chemin des Cretes      
 
Ajaccio as seen from Chemin des Cretes      
 
Ajaccio as seen from Chemin des Cretes      
 
Golfe d'Ajaccio from Chemin des Cretes      
 
Golfe d'Ajaccio from Chemin des Cretes      
 
Golfe d'Ajaccio from Chemin des Cretes      
 
Ajaccio cathedral      
Just behind our apartment is the Ajaccio cathedral. Officially the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Ajaccio, it was built between 1577 and 1593 and is credited to Italian architect Giacomo della Porta.
 
Ajaccio cathedral      
Just behind our apartment is the Ajaccio cathedral. Officially the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Ajaccio, it was built between 1577 and 1593 and is credited to Italian architect Giacomo della Porta.
 
Ajaccio cathedral      
Just behind our apartment is the Ajaccio cathedral. Officially the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Ajaccio, it was built between 1577 and 1593 and is credited to Italian architect Giacomo della Porta.
 
Place Marechal Foch      
 
Place Marechal Foch      
 
Place Marechal Foch      
https://jamesgaston.ca/762
 
 

The drive to Algajola

 
October 2, 2017   France, Corsica, Algajola, US Politics, Porto
 
 
So far, all signs are that it was just a guy, just one more American killer who got his hands on some collection of weapons designed for the sole purpose of killing people, and who then killed people. We know that if it was a Muslim with a foreign name, we would be in full panic mode and all we would be hearing about is the ever-greater dangers of terrorism. Indeed, the killings in France, on Sunday, which were surely terrorism, have already begun to attract that kind of attention from the right wing here. But when it happens here, what we're told by the entire power structure of American life - both houses of Congress, the White House, and now the Supreme Court, locked and loaded to sustain the absurd and radical pro-gun ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller - is that there is nothing at all to be done, save to pray. Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker

Algajola

This morning we picked up a car, a small white Citroen, at the Ajaccio airport. We then headed north, to spend a few days in a beach-front hotel in the small seaside town of Algajola.

We picked the scenic route, via Piana and Porto. It is a twisty, two-lane road the whole way, except where it narrows to one lane. It took us through pink-granite canyons along narrow roads carved into rocky mountainsides, with scenery ranging from merely beautiful to spectacular. The only problem with photographing it was finding a place to park, the road being barely two cars wide in places, with a wall of rock on one side and a steep drop on the other side.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Piana to Porto      
The first time we drove this road. Very little traffic, just a few tourists like us. We didn't know that we'd drive it three more times, and always with heavier traffic. But it's so beautiful it's worth it.
 
Piana to Porto      
The first time we drove this road. Very little traffic, just a few tourists like us. We didn't know that we'd drive it three more times, and always with heavier traffic. But it's so beautiful it's worth it.
 
Piana to Porto      
The first time we drove this road. Very little traffic, just a few tourists like us. We didn't know that we'd drive it three more times, and always with heavier traffic. But it's so beautiful it's worth it.
 
Piana to Porto panorama      
A panorama from the previous photo plus a few more. Creating a panorama such as this has to wait until I'm back home. Well, unless I use the iPhone which has a perfectly nice panorama function.
 
Piana to Porto panorama      
A panorama from the previous photo plus a few more. Creating a panorama such as this has to wait until I'm back home. Well, unless I use the iPhone which has a perfectly nice panorama function.
 
Piana to Porto panorama      
A panorama from the previous photo plus a few more. Creating a panorama such as this has to wait until I'm back home. Well, unless I use the iPhone which has a perfectly nice panorama function.
 
Piana to Porto      
 
Piana to Porto      
 
Piana to Porto      
 
Piana to Porto panorama      
Another panorama composed from the previous photo plus a few more.
 
Piana to Porto panorama      
Another panorama composed from the previous photo plus a few more.
 
Piana to Porto panorama      
Another panorama composed from the previous photo plus a few more.
 
Piana to Porto      
 
Piana to Porto      
 
Piana to Porto      
 
Porto      
 
Porto      
 
Porto      
 
Northwest Corsica      
 
Northwest Corsica      
 
Northwest Corsica      
 
Northwest Corsica      
 
Northwest Corsica      
 
Northwest Corsica      
 
Algajola beach      
As the sun began to set we arrived in Algajola, in northwest Corsica.
 
Algajola beach      
As the sun began to set we arrived in Algajola, in northwest Corsica.
 
Algajola beach      
As the sun began to set we arrived in Algajola, in northwest Corsica.
https://jamesgaston.ca/742
 
 

L'Ile-Rousse

 
October 3, 2017   L'Ile Rousse, France, Corsica, Algajola
 
 

In addition to walking along the beach and watching the wind surfers here in Algajola we explored the nearby town of L'Ile-Rousse, a slightly larger (but still small) town. Just off shore, but connected by a narrow causeway, is a lighthouse-topped island called Ile de la Pietra.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Algajola      
 
Algajola      
 
Algajola      
 
Lighthouse on Ile de la Pietra      
 
Lighthouse on Ile de la Pietra      
 
Lighthouse on Ile de la Pietra      
 
Corsica coast as seen from Ile de la Pietra      
 
Corsica coast as seen from Ile de la Pietra      
 
Corsica coast as seen from Ile de la Pietra      
https://jamesgaston.ca/764
 
 

Corsican hill towns

 
October 4, 2017   France, Corsica
 
 

Today we toured four hill towns: Aregno, Sant Antonino, Pigna, and Corbara. We spent most of our time in Sant Antonino. All are old settlements with rough stone streets, narrow passageways, and lots of steps. The granite homes and pathways are made of the same material as the hills so they seem to all blend together. And all feature great views of neighboring towns, the surrounding valleys, and the coastal communities far below.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Aregno      
 
Aregno      
 
Aregno      
 
Sant Antonino      
 
Sant Antonino      
 
Sant Antonino      
 
View to Mediterranean      
 
View to Mediterranean      
 
View to Mediterranean      
 
Sant Antonino      
 
Sant Antonino      
 
Sant Antonino      
 
Sant Antonino      
 
Sant Antonino      
 
Sant Antonino      
 
Pigna      
 
Pigna      
 
Pigna      
https://jamesgaston.ca/765
 
 

Two hikes and a road race

 
October 5, 2017   Hike, Serriera, Porto, France, Corsica, Cars
 
 

We decided to leave Algajola a day early, to get in some hiking in the Porto - Piana area. So we got back in the Citreon and retraced our path from a couple days earlier. Our goal was Serriera, a village about 10 minutes outside of Porto. After a while we arrived. On checking into our simple but roomy hotel we learned from the friendly proprietor that the road to Porto was closing in half an hour! Turns out the road was being used by the Tour de Corse. It would reopen at 19:00, she said. Since she spoke no English and we know little French the conversation took place courtesy of google translate which we used by taking turns typing into a computer. This worked quite well actually.

Of course we'd no idea what the Tour is, a bicycle race? A foot race? A car race? Turns out, well, more on that later.

We jumped back into the car and headed south to get past Porto and then onto the trailhead. The road either side of Porto, a road we'd driven days earlier, is both painfully beautiful and white-knuckle scary: it's carved into the side of a wall of granite and in places it is barely one car wide.

Within five minutes we were stuck in a traffic jam. Cars, trucks, buses, and motorbikes took turns squeezing past each other on this ridiculously narrow road, with granite hanging over us and a sheer drop to the sea below. On the bright side it was great for picture taking: while Paul sat in the Citroen's driver's seat I walked around and shot photos.

Eventually we made it to Porto where we discovered the Historical Tour de Corse is a car race. So that mystery was cleared. It also explained the cars we'd seen earlier, all decked out in numbers and stickers.

The hike was great: it overlooks the Calanche de Piana with its pink granite forest broken by views of the turquoise Mediterranean. Much of the hike follows an old stone path, what was likely an old road connecting villages.

Corsica looks to be a hikers dream as the mountainous island is covered with trails. We see many people decked out in full hiking gear. The Corsican trails are well marked plus every one I've looked for I've found in OpenStreetMaps using the CityMaps2Go app.

After the hike we headed to Piana for lunch then followed that up with another hike. We had to kill time till the road re-opened. We hiked about half of the Capu Rossu trail, which heads west out to a promontory with, again, great views of pink granite mountains, scrubby green forests, and that crystal clear Mediterranean sea.

Soon we were back in Porto where we hung out with the Tour racers and waited for the road to reopen, which it did promptly at 19:00. The drive back involved another traffic jam as cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, and Tour support vehicles squeezed by each other to get to their destinations. At this point we thought we were through with the boy racers. We weren't, though.

It was a long day with a lot of beautiful scenery topped with a taste of an old Steve McQueen movie. We were glad to get back to our charming hotel, drink a beer, and call it a night.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Hope no one needs ambulance      
This narrow road is carved into a cliff. Beyond the short guard rail on the right is a cliff side that drops toward the sea.
 
Hope no one needs ambulance      
This narrow road is carved into a cliff. Beyond the short guard rail on the right is a cliff side that drops toward the sea.
 
Hope no one needs ambulance      
This narrow road is carved into a cliff. Beyond the short guard rail on the right is a cliff side that drops toward the sea.
 
Golfe de Porto      
 
Golfe de Porto      
 
Golfe de Porto      
 
Golfe de Porto      
 
Golfe de Porto      
 
Golfe de Porto      
 
A bit of beach      
 
A bit of beach      
 
A bit of beach      
 
Road as seen from hike      
 
Road as seen from hike      
 
Road as seen from hike      
 
Paul on Calanche hike      
Corsica is beautiful, and the Porto area is my favorite beautiful place in Corsica.
 
Paul on Calanche hike      
Corsica is beautiful, and the Porto area is my favorite beautiful place in Corsica.
 
Paul on Calanche hike      
Corsica is beautiful, and the Porto area is my favorite beautiful place in Corsica.
 
A forest of pink granite      
 
A forest of pink granite      
 
A forest of pink granite      
 
Hike to Capu Rossu      
 
Hike to Capu Rossu      
 
Hike to Capu Rossu      
 
View from Capu Rossu hike      
After the hike we headed back to Porto.
 
View from Capu Rossu hike      
After the hike we headed back to Porto.
 
View from Capu Rossu hike      
After the hike we headed back to Porto.
 
Finish line for this segment      
 
Finish line for this segment      
 
Finish line for this segment      
 
A cool blue car      
 
A cool blue car      
 
A cool blue car      
 
Drivers waiting race results      
 
Drivers waiting race results      
 
Drivers waiting race results      
 
Porto sunset      
 
Porto sunset      
 
Porto sunset      
 
Beach near our hotel      
 
Beach near our hotel      
 
Beach near our hotel      
 
Traffic jam as we headed home      
 
Traffic jam as we headed home      
 
Traffic jam as we headed home      
 
A busy day comes to a close      
 
A busy day comes to a close      
 
A busy day comes to a close      
https://jamesgaston.ca/766
 
 

Sharing the road to Zonza

 
October 6, 2017   France, Corsica, Cars, Zonza
 
 
Zonza

We left Serriera for Zonza (pronounced 'tzonz') to do some hiking around the Col de Bavella, which is in the south center of the island. So another day on the road. Fortunately in Corsica the road doesn't mean boring superhighway, it means a two-laner, hugging a mountainside, and squeezing through tiny villages where the buildings are so close you can almost reach out and touch them. The flip side to this lack of superhighways is that what appears to be a short distance on a map will actually take a long while.

Driving in Corsica also involves frequent encounters with wildlife: cows, pigs, donkeys, big-horn sheep, we've shared the road with all of these creatures. My favorites to date have been the herds of big-horn sheep and the donkey that was chasing a cat.

And if you're driving in Corsica this week you're also sharing the road with participants in the Tour de Corse. Zonza, it turns out, is another checkpoint in the road race, so while we travelled today we were frequently passed by speeding Porsches and Alfas and all manner of other vehicles, each covered in stickers and manned by a suited-up driver and navigator. A bit boy racer, a bit dangerous, but I like it, it feels oh so European.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
A racer passing us in the corner (Tour de Corse)      
 
A racer passing us in the corner (Tour de Corse)      
 
A racer passing us in the corner (Tour de Corse)      
 
Where's that cat?      
 
Where's that cat?      
 
Where's that cat?      
 
Passing in a corner (Tour de Corse)      
 
Passing in a corner (Tour de Corse)      
 
Passing in a corner (Tour de Corse)      
 
What's for dinner?      
 
What's for dinner?      
 
What's for dinner?      
 
Cool blue car on the Tour de Corse