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Left, right, left, right, onwards!

Posted on May 8th, 2017

Emmanuel Macron was victorious in the French Presidentielles last night by a margin of 2:1 over far right candidate Marine Le Pen. My department of the Vaucluse voted 53.5% for Macron, but he won 71.4% of the votes in our commune of Lacoste. It was welcome news in the face of gains by the extreme right represented elsewhere by Donald Trump, Theresa May, Malcolm Turnbull and the appalling Binyamin Netanyahu. If you don’t think they are extremists then take a closer look at their policies on refugees, healthcare, privatisation, the environment and taxation. And pay special attention to who supports them, who benefits, where the money comes from and the influence of the religious right. It has been fun reading the right-wing British Brexit…

Flamants de la camargue

Posted on May 7th, 2017

Late winter is when the flamingoes of the Camargue wetlands are at their finest. Thousands assemble near the coastal town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer,  growing brilliant red/pink plumage to attract breeding mates. These are flamants roses or pink flamingoes, who conduct an elaborate mating ballet with necks entwined and low grumbling. Eggs are laid in April/May at the Lake of Fangassier, the only flamingo breeding site in France. Around 10,000 birds live here all year, but the population swells to over 40,000 in summer. It’s a pleasant two-hour drive from here and well worth the effort.

The ex-votos of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Posted on May 4th, 2017

The small town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer lies on the coast, next to the marshes of the Camargue. It is famous for the legend of the three Marys, saints Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary of Clopas, first witnesses to the empty tomb of Jesus. It is thought they sailed together from Alexandria, landing at what is now Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The town is also the destination for Roma gypsy pilgrims who arrive each year at the end of May for the festival of their patron Saint Sarah, who is supposed to have come with the three Marys as their dark-skinned Egyptian servant. The church at the centre of town dates back to the 9th century and contains a pagan altar from 4BCE. On display within the church…