The Durance River flows from the Luberon, through the wide flat valley near Lauris in Provence, France, before eventually joining the Rhône. It is fast and deep – but under control these days from engineering feats and hydroelectric schemes upstream.
It’s former power can be seen from the broad flood plain that it once carved out through the hills. Levees and pumping stations now protect neighbouring farmland from potentially higher winter and storm levels. Right now, in late March, the main channel looks dangerously turbulent and fast, but elsewhere it is relatively calm with vast pebble beds exposed along the bank-sides with trapped pools of shallow water. The watercourse has carried most of the stones from miles upstream so that their geological origins are varied, while other stones have probably been introduced with the levee construction.
Most of the pebble beds at this particular location are partially colonised by plants, with which I am entirely unfamiliar. The plant assemblages vary according to the size of stones and height above the water level. (I wasn’t able to get right down onto the pebbles for a closer look and had to rely on my camera zoom to get an impression of what was there). The hills in the distance form a backdrop to ancient trees and driftwood lined up along the southern flank of the Durance; while to the north a footpath passes along the top of the flood-bank that protects an agricultural area with vineyards, apple orchards, and horses grazing below the village and castle of Lauris perched on top of a rock escarpment.
This is the first set of images attempting to portray aspects of the Durance river and its banks photographed during a short visit this March.