Castillon du Gard is a small French village near Uzès in Provence. Somewhat off the main tourist route, it’s a nice place to take a lazy summer walk through the narrow medieval streets, staying on the shady side out of the crushing heat.
According to the tourist panels, much of the town was ruined during the religious wars of the 16th century. One thing that couldn’t be destroyed was the view of the Pont du Gard, a bridge over the Gardon river along a roman aqueduct from the first century AD. A monument to the expertise of the engineers of the epoch, the aqueduct carried water from a spring near Uzès to a roman colony at Nîmes, 50 km away. The bridge can be seen from the western ramparts of the town. Castillon du Gard has the distinction of being the only village in France from which the bridge can be seen, and that was the reason I came.
A zoomed section of the photo, centered and cropped on the bridge.
The residents of this house can see the Pont du Gard from their terrace. That must be inspiring.
The air along the path beside the ramparts was heavy with the pungent perfume of the fig trees.
I took a number of pictures and I managed to record the sound of the cicadas behind the old girls’ school,
but what impressed me the most were the sensations I wasn’t able to capture except with words: the soothing smell of bread, cookies and cakes outside the bakery, which was closed at mid-day, sun-baked blinds tightly shut against the blinding heat; the sharp, sweet smell of figs again in the courtyard garden around the corner and down the street, barely a hint of cool moist shadows behind the high stone walls;
the dank musty scent of books in a cardboard box by the side of a door farther down the way; the unmistakable smell of old people’s houses.
Everyone still makes such a big deal out of digital media, but they’re just talking about combining images, videos and sounds with words, like I’m doing here. What about the other senses? How long will it be before we can record and reproduce the often vivid smells and feelings of the places in our memories?