No way out in Mons

This time there is no way out, my friend! And nobody’s gonna argue on this. See it for yourself in Mons, Var, France.

No way out in Mons
No Way Out! Mons village in Var, France, Leica M (Typ 240), Summilux-M 50mm, f1.4 ASPH, 1/1000 sec., f6.8, ISO 200

From One Village to Another, and Another

My endeavour to discover and photograph villages in South of France continues this week as we headed to the Var for a series of villages. Leaving early in the morning gives enough time to walk around and grasp the spirit of each place. Photography is fantastic for showing what really interested you or struck your eye. Your personal interpretation of a place. For a same location, what you photograph can be completely different than what someone else would photograph. I believe photographs should always be real and truly representative of the place you visit. After all, if you share photos of a place for the sake of documenting the location, they have to be true, you have to be honest with your viewers and readers. At least that's what I think and always try to do. Oh, I will always make sure things look their best in a photograph, but I will never create anything that's not there in the first place. My philosophy is: you can remove things that are unnecessary, but you can never add things.

So it's been a very hot day yesterday with temperatures reaching over 30 degrees in some places. That's fine on the shore, near water, but in the backcountry it's another story, especially when there is no wind at all. Very typical for this area where risk of fire is very high in the summer. Hauling camera gear doesn't help when the heat is peaking for hours between 11am and 3pm.

We stopped first in Montauroux (From exit 39 on A8, keep going on D37 until you reach Montauroux). I had been to the newest part of Montauroux, but not the old village. So I'm glad we could go there and discover something very different. On our way through the valley we noticed that the water level on Lac Saint-Cassiens was pretty high. One of my colleagues said he had not seen that in many years. That's good news, meaning it rained a lot over the past several weeks. The water reserve is good but the soil is also more humid and forest fire less of a menace at this time of the year. Anything could happen, but the risks are lower for now. Good!

Our next stop was in Callian (From Montauroux, keep going on D37 and merge on D56 until you reach Callian). It's bigger than I thought and I found it very interesting to visit. It's a beautiful village, very peaceful, located at 580 m above sea level. We really took our time there, walking some streets at least twice, even had lunch at the central place in front of the church. I tried to find information to share with you about Callian, but unfortunately there is not much available on the web. So I have no clue about the history of the place. Still, we had a great time there and most people we talked to were very kind and easy going. We even had a worker coming to us for directions to where we could make some great pictures. Pretty cool.

And then we left for Mons (From Callian, keep going on D37 and merge on D56 until you reach Mons). I haven't heard of this place before, completely new to me. It's located at about 810 meters above sea level, and offers a great view on Îles de Lérins, Les Maures and, occasionally, even on Corsica! And there is a lot of history in the area. During the second century. the Romans built an aqueduct from some sources of river Siagnole to Fréjus. The segment going through Mons is still in operation today. Mons is well known for its numerous caves and is a great destination for canyoning, fishing,, etc. Life in Mons was very rough many centuries ago and the population was almost decimated on several occasions by tragedies like pest, famine, earthquakes, and rigorous winters. I only found out about all this today and really feel I should go back and try to explore the aqueduct. I'll report here after a second visit to Mons. In the meantime if you'd like to see some shots from wikipedia, try this link. I'm always fascinated by all these things from the past and the rich history in France.

The last village we visited was Seillans (From Mons, take D563 and merge on D53 until you reach Seillans). This is by far the most "touristic" village among those visited today. My colleagues found it to be badly maintained, showing signs of advanced degradation, i.e. huge cracks in the foundations, vertically curved walls and abandoned buildings. I admit there was also a lot of pet defecations on all the narrow street (the smell can't lie), but still I had a good experience there, and managed to get some unusual shots from the visit. I particularly liked the fountain on Place du Thouron. For some reasons I felt I didn't know much about the place history which is probably very rich. But not much can be found on the web either. See for yourself, if you want(in french). I'll have to dig a bit more on this.

What’s In The Bag

  • Leica M (Typ 240) + spare batteries x 2
  • Summilux-M 50mm, f1.4 ASPH
  • Summicron-M 75mm, f1.2 ASPH
  • Olympus VF-2 Electronic View Finder
  • Sony RX100 + spare batteries x2
  • 64GB Sandisk Extreme Pro SD cards x 3
  • Lens cloth & brush
  • Glasses
  • Apple iPhone 5
  • Leatherman Flair multitools
  • Fenix PD22 flashlight

Note that I didn’t use the 75mm lens. And I really regretted I didn’t have a water bottle in the bag. Temperature reached 30 degrees and thirst appeared early in the afternoon. Hopefully one of my colleagues had a spare bottle for me. Water is very important, I’m going to make sure I have a bottle on every trip.

The photo I’m sharing with you is the one that puzzled me the most for this trip in Var. Very special and funny. You can find the whole picture set on my website at

Good Light!


© 2014 Normand Primeau Fine Art Photography. All rights reserved.