Provence Spring 1974

Vineyard, Provence aix1974-483

We took a short break in the south of France at the start of the Easter holiday in 1974, travelling by train from London. Getting off the ferry in France we boarded a sleeper train which took us all the way to Aix-en-Provence, though rather more slowly than the current TGV service. I vaguely remember it trundling slowly and noisily around the now abandoned ‘Petite Ceinture’ in Paris in the evening and waking up the following morning as we approached Avignon.

Montagne Saint-Victoire aix1974-490

We took several coach tours from Aix, taking us to the Luberon, to the incredible fortress at Les Baux-de-Provence, Les Antiques at St Remy de Provence and to Arles, as well as taking the train to Marseille and exploring Aix and the countryside around. We tried to climb Cezanne’s favourite mountain, Mont Sainte-Victoire¬†, but had to abandon the attempt when clouds came down enveloping us. It didn’t help that I was suffering from a temporary paralysis which made it difficult to move my legs, an unfortunate side-effect of an antidiarrhetic drug.

Les Alyscamps, Arles aix1974-026

I photographed mainly in colour on the trip and was I think using cheap Ferrania/3M film bought in 50ft or 100ft tins to load cassettes, and home processed. They have lasted surprisingly well, rather better than the few rolls of black and white I also took which has suffered extensively from insect infestation, eating their way through the gelatine. I think I must have been fortunate in the processing kit I used, and some for later films produced rather less stable images.

Street, Provence, Spring, 1974 aix1974-304

My memory too has suffered over the 46 years since I made these pictures, and although some locations are clear from the images, others I am unsure or have no recollection of. So if you can confirm any please add this on rhw Flickr page.

I tried for quite a few to find similar images on the web, using both normal searches on Google and also its ‘search by image’. I could only confirm a couple of them in this way. What I did discover is that for some sites where I thought they might have been taken, Google images finds only pictures – and sometimes hundreds of them – taken from a very limited number of viewpoints, as if photographers are reluctant to explore the location and find new and different views. Rather as if the places were marked by little Kodak signs telling you to take your picture here – I think there are still a few in London.

Marseille aix1974-119

Too many of my pictures back in 1974 are perhaps rather like these, typical tourist images, and I’ve edited out some of these in the set I’ve put online, though others remain. None are great photographs, but many have some interest, at least for me and I hope for you.

Street, Provence, 1974 aix1974-048
Flick Album: South of France 1974

You can see the pictures larger on Flickr.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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