We live at the edge of a broad, flat valley that stretches half the way to Toulon one way, and opens out to the sea at Fréjus the other way. (Chris is fairly certain that it was once a big lake, but can’t find any scientific discussion of this.) What is striking is the way that this flat sandy area, now largely covered in vineyards with clumps of umbrella pines, suddenly changes when you come to the Maures (pronounced ‘Moor’). Here, with extraordinary abruptness, ancient metamorphic and igneous rocks (related for those who are interested to the massifs of Cornwall and Brittany) rise up to give a rugged, tree-covered landscape.
Starting only three or so miles away from our house it’s a great place for walking as long as you don’t try to battle your way through the dense vegetation.
Partly because of the fire risk, it has remained largely unpopulated and so it’s easy to find yourself on your own in some very remote area.
In about a 30 minutes walk from our house it’s possible to cross under the motorway and only a few hundred metres further on find yourself in very attractive terrain.
There are also some dramatic rivers, which have attracted the attention of canoeists. It’s one of those delightful areas that are overlooked because people are intending to go elsewhere, in this case, probably St Tropez. Their loss is our gain.
Some rather depressing news this week was the sudden and rather theatrical decision of the French environment minister, the respected Nicholas Hulot, to resign in the course of a radio interview. His reason was that he found M. Macron’s government to be yielding far too much to lobbyists and despite fine words (“Make the Planet Great Again!”) to have pushed the environment well down the agenda. Certainly, environmental policy has come under enormous pressure from such powerful bodies as the nuclear industry, agriculture, the agrochemical industry and — a particular challenge in Hulot’s case — hunters. It will be interesting to see who he is replaced with and how genuine M. Macron’s commitment to the environment really is over the long term. We will watch events with interest and concern.