#1270. Doors and windows in Montpellier

By pascaljappy | Travel Photography

Mar 07

An innocent photo walk in a lovely town in the South of France turns into a treasure hunt for exotic windows and garage doors 🙂

A colour photograph of a street in Montpellier, France, lined with elegant buildings.
In Montpellier

For those unfamiliar with Montpellier (France, not Vermont) it is an elegant city located close to the Mediterranean coast and home to a vast number of elegant stone buildings and manucured gardens.

It is a modern town, as modern as they come in France, but one with deep roots and a tremendous academic heritage, particularly in the field of medicine. It’s medical school still hosts some of the Europe’s best research labs and courses.

It’s also my birth place 🙂 though I never lived there until Uni, and without a doubt my favourite town in France.

Weighing options

But this post is not about elegance, heritage, architecture or prestigious academic achievement.

Immediately surrounding the rich center lies a flourish of less posh neighbourhoods teeming with life and interesting streets.

While we French aren’t allow to photograph humans, we are still (so far) allowed to photograph the what humans make. And what started like a quick digestive walk in those areas, ended up revealing a treasure trove of photographic opportunity. I had to cut it short, having work to do. But this could have lasted a whole day.


A first, no particular pattern was visible in the various houses lining the small streets that saw me digesting a spicy burrito. But two soon emerged.

As gentrified as it has become, the area can still be … touchy … at night. So, barred doors and windows are the rule far more than the exception.

And, as in all old towns confronted with modern traffic, parking space is at a premium. So many garage owners have displayed some sort of warning to neighbours, asking them not to park in front of their doors. A sort of registration-based peeing on their parking territory, if you will.


As always, exhuberant variety makes me jump up and dow in appreciation. This display of creative chest-pounding was the theme of my afternoon, as the range of displays would have made my semiotician dad all topsy turvy 😉


This last – puzzling – one is a convenient segway into the other category of today’s post: barred doors and windows.

Here again, there was no uniformity to complain about and what I found even more interesting than the variety of bar shapes and motifs was the little decorations and arrangements present the bars.

A sort of reminder of the human brain’s love of contact and beauty, even in the face of aggression. Or simply of neglect, in other windows. Interesting in both cases.


That’s it. This post has no other purpose than to share the photos from an hour of walking about in an interesting area. This was refreshing for me. I tend to photograph differences between whatever place I’m visiting and my own neck of the woods. It’s what I live for, photographically. But this was right next door to my home and still very inspirational.

Now let’s just hope there isn’t another unfathomable law making photographs of registration plates on garage doors illegal. It wouldn’t surprise me, but here’s to hoping the obviously admirative nature of this post spares me the lash.


How about you? Did you like this? Care to share what doors and garages look like in your area? Or any other typical specificity 🙂


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  • Des McSweeney says:

    is there any way back from this ridiculous “no photographing humans” nonsense do you think? Every time I read about it the shock is immense… and in such a liberal and artistic country as yours. So sad hey…

    • pascaljappy says:

      Des, I have no idea. At the moment, treating everyone as a victim of some heinous crime seems to be the local political modus operandi. Populism has many faces, sadly. It’s infuriating, when our country’s artistic heritage is built on the very things we have now forbidden. Go figure …

      • jean pierre guaron says:

        Maybe we need to follow Da Vinci’s example. And paint their pictures, instead of using cameras to produce the images.

        • pascaljappy says:

          Oh dear, that would take a long time 😉

        • Kristian Wannebo says:

          … reminds me of a cartoon from the previous century at the beginning of portrait photography.

          At a marketplace in Stockholm “quick-fix” painters made portraits of passers by for a fee.
          The cartoon shows a young couple looking appreciatively at their fresh portrait. Says the man:
          – If the market for this starts growing we can forget all about photography.

          • pascaljappy says:

            😉 😉 😉

          • jean pierre guaron says:

            Ha ha!
            Steve Jobs would never have forgiven you for that! Killing his market before he’d even invented cellphones!

          • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

            LOL – there’s a retro movement afoot here, Kristian – street artists offering to do your portrait in 5 minutes! Some of them are pretty good at it, too!

            • Kristian Wannebo says:

              Progress, progress, Jean Pierre!
              From just cutting silhouettes…
              Perhaps strictly black and white (no greys) is the future for photography?

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Nice post, Pascal… your affection for Montpellier clearly shows 🙂
    I like a lot the « vibe » of the photo with the red jar on the ground…

  • jean pierre guaron says:

    Ha ha – I knew even befoe I opened this post that you would be the author, Pascal.

    And, as I scanned all your photos, I was struck by how similar things are here.

    Because I’m allergic to bee stings, I CANNOT allow people to block my gate & crossover – if I’m stung I have to get straight to the nearest hospital, at once. But people are forever parking on it.

    One idiot committed 5 breaches of the parking/driving rules. The rangers only “did” him for four of them, and sent him a bill for $800. He’s probably never been seen in this street again, ever since!

    Another one said she couldn’t see the gate when she parked there. What? A gate 3 metres wide, 3 metres high, in broad daylight? I told he maybe she should be driving motor vehicles, if she was having that much trouble with her eyes.

    Interesting that you’ve found a way to “photograph number plates” – just shoot the ones on the gate, and not the ones on a motor vehicle!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you, Jean-Pierre. I admire your commitment to photographing bees (they are lovely creatures), knowing you are fatally allergic to them!

      800$, no there’s sting that guy won’t forget anytime soon 😆

  • Sean says:

    Love it Pascal because it is, as you allude to, close to “… home …” and it is “… inspirational …”. I ‘enjoy’ doing the same ‘pleasurable’ thing. Enough said.

  • Lad Sessions says:

    Pascal, I’m just getting around to things ignored while we were in NZ, and I enjoyed this post a lot. The photos are admirable, the subject-matter intriguing, and you’ve doubtless stimulated a number of similar (or dissimilar) forays by others

    I started reflecting on how you came to find a theme on your walk. I find that I set out in the forest with no particular subject in mind, but then my eye is caught by something early on–and then there’s another, and another! It’s as if themes themselves suggest, then insist, on my attention. Of course there are memories of previous interests, but new ones are kindled again and again. Walking “aimlessly” allows one to be receptive for whatever offers itself. Aims are born from aimlessness.

    Anyway, thanks for all this.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you, Lad. I’m glad you found the post and photographs appealing. It would be great indeed if they had inspired others to do the same at home!

      Walking is also my default modus operandi. My guess is the effect is two-fold. First of all, all bilateral movement is said to connect both sides of the brain, and probably triggers creativity. And secondly, moving about presents us with more opportunities. The “aimlessness probably adds a lot of mindfulness to the equation, whereas hunting engages something in our brain that narrows down our focus. At least, that’s what I think 😉

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