Photos from sunny France are here!

I’ve wanted to visit France for quite some time. The blend of high mountains close to Switzerland and the calm and quiet countryside of Provence was a big temptation for me. When an opportunity to visit France with Jiří Stránský presented itself, I immediately went for it.  Unbearable heat, great winding roads, awesome baguettes and some photography was waiting for us. Not everything came together as we had hoped, but even then we came back full of great experiences, red with sunburn and cards filled to the brim with photos. As always, you will find a collection of the best on the gallery. Hopefully some of that lavender-filled summer atmosphere will breathe on you from the photos. And if you want to know more about the trip, read on…

France photo gallery

Our trip was 1 week long – from Saturday 11.7 till Sunday 19.7. On Saturday morning, I got going towards Czech Switzerland, where I was to meet with Jirka Stránský. There, I switcher over to his bigger car and went on to pick up the rest of our little photo group. After a long nights trip through Germany, we finally got to Switzerland, where we drove to the top of Furkapass, one of Europes highest mountain passes. Since we’ve driven for almost 20 hours straight now, we brought out our sleeping bags and had a short 3 hour nap right there on the gravel car park under the starry sky in 2430m above sea level. After this short nap, it was time to get up and try and photograph the sunrise at a nearby glacier. Despite the clear skies, the view was amazing and well worth the early wakeup. The majestic glacier crawling down a valley high in the mountains, surrounded by sharp peaks, with great waterfall roaring at its front, falling towards the distant valley floor. The view was breathtaking…


The first big trek awaited us though, so we had to get going. We decided to start our trek from the city of Chamonix which was still 180Km ahead of us. After a short breakfast, we got back on the road and headed towards French border. We got to Chamonix around noon, prepared for the hike and realized the trail ahead was everything but easy. We were headed towards Lac Blanc, a pristine lake high in the Agilles Rouges mountains, opposite the Mont Blanc massif. The elevation was brutal – ascent from 1300m to 2450m, in 30°C with full load on our backs. After sleeping for 3 hours in the last 2 days. The final push towards the lake was a real test of resolve, but as the full view opened before us, we knew it was worth it. The view towards Mont Blanc in the setting sun was just amazing and something to remember. After the sun finally set, we once again took out our bags and slept under the stars in the fresh mountain air. Finally rested, we woke up to an overcast morning. The air was still and the reflection in the lake absolutely brilliant. After we took our photos and had our breakfast, we got back on the trail and headed back to the car. If going up was bad, going down was even worse. Knees hurting, blisters on the blisters of our blisters, hiking poles breaking when saving us from bashing our teeth against the rocks … just great 🙂 But we got back to the car in one peace, and after a short lunch got going again.

From Chamonix we went straight to Provence, towards a small city of Valensole, which is known for having one of the most beuatiful lavender fields in the world. Upon arriving in Provence, we had a bit of a surprise waiting for us. It turned out Provence is even more popular than we thought! All the way from the first lavender field, we saw tens of photographers and videographers clicking away at the purple flowers. We saw a guy with studio lights and a model, another one flying a drone, then a bus full of japanese tourists and lots of photographers just having a blast. Well, no point in being shy, it was time to blend in – everyone found ‘his’ row and then we just waited for the sunset. It was a good wait though – the smell of lavender was ever present, thousands of bees having a blast in the flowers, light breeze helping with the incredible heat … it was a nice afternoon. Francie_150714-110We spent the next few days doing the same – we drove around the countryside, looking for a nice lavender field, and when we found one, we just got out and started photographig. The days were extremely long and hot, with temperatures around 40°C and shade nowhere to be found. At times, we were losing our will to live. It was SO hot. The weather was not cooperating – clear skies, lots of haze, sunsets and sunrises without much drama … but even so, the views were still amazing. When the tempreatures finally reached our limit, we drove towards the Verdon gorge, where we spent a nice afternoon af the huge lake and finally had a chance to cool down a bit.

The next day, we drove off deep into the canyons of Verdon, to a small village Châlet de la Maline, from which we’ve descended to the base of the gorge. We were a bit surprised by the air in the gorge. While the air was arid and hot in the lavender fields, it was incredibly humid in the canyon. Combined with the high temperature, it meant we looked as if we had already taken had a swim in the river before even getting close to it. Then again, taking the tripod directly into the stream and wading through the cold water, searching for nice views to photograph was awesome. Unfortunately, turns out I suck at photographing canyons, so despite all the effort, didn’t bring back a single usable photo. After a good few hours spent photographing and swimming in the river, it was time to ascend back to the top of the canyon. I was not looking forward to that. The sun was shining on us the whole way, heating the rocks so that you couldn’t hold your hand on them, with the air still humid beyond belief … just aweful. Close to the summit we finally realized just what we got ourselves into – head started spinning, water reserves already long gone… when we finally got to the top of the canyon, even the 60 degree water tasted great. For sunset we drove even further in and photographed it from one of the highest points in the canyon. Unfortunately the haze was really strong and the photos we got that evening were not all that great. Still though, the view was stunning, so we could at least enjoy a nice sunset without the distraction of cameras.

Francie_150717-366-2Our trip through France was now in its second half and it was time to start moving back towards Switzerland border. The next morning, after photographing the sunrise in Verdon gorge we headed towards the town Gordes, and Senanque abbey, found in 1148. The town built on the side of a mountain, surrounding a benedictine abbey from the eight century with a huge castle is mesmerizing. Stone houses, terrace gardens, narrow streets, just amazing. After a bautiful evening, we got back on the road and headed towards Pralognan valley in the Valoise national park. This amazing valley is surrounded by high sharp peaks and filled with unbelievable amounts of different mountain flowers. Most of our group went on towards a lake high in the mountains. Since the next day we already had to get back to Czech Republic and I had to drive the whole way, I decided to stay down in the valley to save strength and instead found a nice place there with lots of lupins (and even more nettles)…

I got back full of great memories, impressions from the amazing French countryside and I can’t wait for my next photo trip. As always, you will find the ‘best of’ collection of photos from this trip in the French gallery. All the photos there are also available as prints, all you have to do is chose which one will complement your place the best. Enjoy the photos, and comment! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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