Friday, October 18, 2013

The lost village of Sadde



"Why don't we try that way instead of going directly to Avène?" I suggested, pointing straight ahead. A tiny flicker of surprise rolled over Remi's eyebrow. He is the suggester, the spot finder and an incredibly talented one at that. I am more of the "Can we head back now?" variety I have to admit. A lazy adventurer. But Remi is the real thing and there is never too far, too wide or too long to go.


So up the road we started and the further the car crawled, the steeper the hill, the blinder the turns and the worse the condition of the road. If I didn't have supreme confidence in his driving (and I do, this is a man who has driven down Africa from north to south), I would have peered continuously over the cliff's edge but instead I kept gazing forward, eager to see where the trail would lead. 


The sign had indicated a distance of two kilometers and yet that small journey seemed a world away. "Who would live here?" we both wondered. We pulled to a stop in front of a smattering of homes, each more neglected and sadder than the next. Appropriate, as the village is called Sadde. It is what had piqued my curiosity in the first place. And then to arrive in the middle of what is already the middle of nowhere and find it abandoned...well, it was a mystery. What had happened here?


Perhaps it was the ambiance, perhaps it was tom-foolery of the light but I had trouble finding my focus.


So many locked doors and shutters closed tight.


Paint left to chip and iron to rust.


A breeze chased and found me, trembling tough flowers and vines overhead.


It sent a deep chill through my bones. All of this loss...left me feeling sadder than Sadde.


"Heather, come on up here," Remi called to me quietly. I picked my way up a sloping stone staircase and took a sharp intake of breath.


"Nu-uh." I couldn't believe it for there, hidden amidst the ruins was a gorgeously renovated home, replete with a kidney shaped swimming pool suspended over the hills. It had been impossible to detect from the front but my, what a secret hideaway.


We laughed and began to see the village in a different light, especially eyeing (as we are want to do) un bergerie or sheepfold. Hmmm...we would keep the original elements of the sliding iron...


...and wooden doors but fill them in with steel-mullioned windows on the inside, add a sleeping loft, a fireplace and voila! The perfect vacation hut...


...with 360° of mountain tops for a view. Ah, not looking so triste after all, now is it? 


Appearances are tricky and this particular discovery was enough to make this adventurer, lazy or no, feel a warm glow of the heart. 



Have a wonderful weekend!

40 comments:

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

Mystery and isolation with breathtaking views make a powerful cocktail for the soul. Bisous xxx

Gina said...

What a find! Beautiful photographs to boot. ox, Gina

Francine Gardner said...

A beautifully told story, with the perfect touch of mystery.

robin said...

At first I thought this was a scary Halloween story - the first doorway had what looked like teeth above it, and it looked like blood on another door (and giant spider legs in front of another doorway?). But, ahh, the town was not abandoned after all - yes, you could swoop in and install your own kidney shaped pool! It seems like the adventure opportunities in Provence are endless - hooray for you and for us as we get to keep following you via these beautiful posts!

Laoch of Chicago said...

Wow, neat!

I Dream Of said...

The drive may have required me to take a Xanax, but it looks like the pay off is was worth it! I love that there was more than what originally met the eye. Glad you took this little adventure!! Happy weekend - hope there are more rewarding journeys in store!!XO

Lorrie said...

At first I thought some tragedy had caused the village to be abandoned. What joy to see color and brightness of the pool! Appearances can certainly be deceiving. Going off the beaten track leads to all kinds of adventure.

Suze said...

A kidney-shaped pool and a heart-shaped leaf to reward your efforts, Heather. Can I just say I absolutely love that you channeled the curious, exploring spirit that Remi is more typically open to? I think this is the beginning of something for you, girl. :)

Loree said...

That first photo drew me in and now I want to see more of Sadde. What a place to escape to! I sure would love it there. So, are any of the houses for sale ? ;)

Karen said...

Isn't it fun to find a new place????

Joan McKniff said...

Sad, Sadde, Sadie.....a letter here and there but all the differences in the world.

But how could they find, recognize, and reconstruct such beauty and then add a white resin pool chair? Ouch!

puppyfur said...

Many years ago, when we first started visiting France, we saw what we thought were "ghost villages" everywhere- shuttered up tightly in summer or winter, not a soul around. We have since learned so much! I'm truly glad that Sadde is not so sad.

Judi of Little House said...

Talk about "not judging a book by its cover!" I guess this whole story is kind of like life, who knows what might be just around the corner! Kristin from French Word-A-Day was just discussing lintels today and ta da, there you have a wonderful picture of one in the third photo - hope she's reading your blog today! She'll be urging you on to buy the mas and make it your own 'very private' hut!
Judi Miller

Teresa Maria said...

What a delightful discovery and what a wonderful thing that someone had renovated one of the houses. Let's hope that will mark the beginning of some sort of a revival for the village. We happened to drive by an abandoned village in Luguria, Italy, in April. You might be interested to have a look at my post about it here: http://amateursventuresonlife.blogspot.fi/2013/09/ligurian-ghost-village.html

Rowan said...

What a wonderful story full of mystery and suspense! Like Robin, I thought the rusty chain and nails looked like blood. Ominous! Then that house with pool hidden away behind closed doors and windows. Living like Robinson Crusoe. They wouldn't have any trouble with noisy neighbours! I like to sometimes look up on Google maps to see where the towns are that you mention, if i haven't heard of them before. You can see quite plainly the kidney shaped pool, that you photographed!
Thanks as ever, Heather!
Cheers,
Deborah from Melbourne.

silkannthreades said...

I loved your previous post but was too slow making my comments so they weren't accepted. Made me sad so I am going to be quicker on this post :) I was so lost in the poignancy of the photos that I was, like you, delightfully surprised with the discovery of life in the village. And, as for your ideas about what you could do with the old property; well, I scarcely expected you to return to Arles. I was almost convinced there would be another photo showing you and Remi embarking upon renovations :) p.s. I know you have explained to me why sometimes your older posts won't accept my comments, but please know that if you don't see a comment from me, I am still reading and following. I am just being a little slower than usual.

Unknown said...

I love the stories and photographs of your explorations. The pool reminds me of one in a photograph you posted over the summer, where from the top of the property one could see hardly anything but the front of the accompanying house because the hill on which it was situated fell away so fast. What treasures you two find... Appreciatively, Leslie in Portland, Oregon

Mumbai said...

It's your female instinct, Heather, which lead you always to hidden, mystery and gorgeous places. But sometimes we need a guide which logical thinking and not to get lost in our dream world. The heart shaped leaf in the last photo aroused my attention. It is an appropriate finale for a wonderful day.

Judith Ross said...

Gorgeous photos.... but the mystery. What happened to the people who lived in the village? And I wonder about the people in the new house. It's a getaway for sure, but it also seems lonely, located near the abandoned village. Is this what gentrification looks like in Provence?

Leslie in Little Rock said...

An oasis in the desert! I love going on these adventures with you all. Armchair traveling at it's best.

simpleimages2 said...

Heather, you prove again that the art of travel,whether nearby countryside or further away, is about pleasant surprises in the seeming lair of dragons, that ruins hide the charms.
Remi is an "adventurer who feels a warm glow of the heart."
I love your simple touch of the fall (en) leaf.

By the way when does lavender bloom?

mademoisella coquine. said...

What an adventure! When I read, "The blinder the turns" I knew exactly what you were talking about. Some of the two-way streets in those small towns really should not be. They're terrifying! Just a pile of stones that is a building to hug as you make your turn hoping no one is on the other side! It scares me every time.

That Hollywood Hills-style house must have been such a surprise! How out of place, especially after seeing the condition of the neighboring homes! Do you think those run-down homes are occupied? I'm curious...

I'm glad Remi encouraged you to explore because that mountain view is indeed not sad at all. : )

Heather Robinson said...

Sister! It is not Halloween yet!! hehehehe

Heather Robinson said...

Oooh, I wouldn't be so sure about that! He always wants to go one more place, see one more thing--I am content with less!

Heather Robinson said...

Yes! I did see some old faded signs...Interested? There are a few rentals too...

Heather Robinson said...

It is Karen. Always rewarding in one way or another.

Heather Robinson said...

I know, Joan! Especially as the renovation obviously wasn't a cheap slapdash affair...

Heather Robinson said...

Me too but I STILL see many "ghost villages" and like it that way!!

Heather Robinson said...

Judi, you aren't the only one who saw the chance similarities in our posting! I wrote Kristin "Great minds" as in think a like. ;)

Heather Robinson said...

Such an amazing post!!! Thank you....

Heather Robinson said...

G, there is never any pressure to leave comments although I always appreciate knowing your thoughts. And noooormally, your comments should always go to my dashboard for approval, even if they are left a year after the initial post! Harumph.
And yes, the renovations were completed...but only in our minds. :)

Heather Robinson said...

I think Remi is far better than I at finding the magic spots and if you tell him he has "feminine instinct" you are going to get into trouble, Mumbai!!! ;à

Heather Robinson said...

Oh I love that you look up places from here on Google Maps!! I never would have thought to try that! And I wondered if that house is a mobster's hideout or something...possible, non?

Heather Robinson said...

No, THIS is what gentrification looks like in Provence: http://www.ouloger.com/jordane The cliché of a "pavillon" or villa with pool and bbq...

Heather Robinson said...

Merci Leslie!

Heather Robinson said...

It is at its height in late June/ early July and is harvested shortly after. Well worth a trip to see and I can tell you where to go where they won't be crowds! :)

And no bones about it Edgar, I miss long distance travelling SO much but we try to make do with what we can...

Heather Robinson said...

You DO know what I am talking about but it was worse! Imagine a ONE lane road and one side is mountain and the other is a sheer drop off a cliff and the turns are SO blind that you have to honk before you go around them in hopes that there is nobody else or if there is that they will hear you...I know that I could never go back to visit again because of that drive. *shudders*

And it looked like there was one rental house that had been updated recently, another one not so much and the rest...? But then again, I totally missed the "fancy" house from the front so who knows?

Tabitha said...

It's all so incredibly beautiful where you live, I am planning my great escape for my "old age" the only annoying thing is that hubs is 10 years younger than me, so for that reason we will be here for much longer than I would like.

Mumbai said...

I should have read it better twice. There was something in my mind that you insisted to go that way. Sorry, Heather and Remi.

Heather Robinson said...

Oh no! Don't be sorry! I was just teasing you a little bit. :)