Neighbourhood: Les Cevennes

Text by Piers Faccini
Photography by Jacques Bertolini

I moved with my wife to the Cevennes in southern France in 2003. Up until then I’d lived almost all my life in the centre of London. I’d always dreamt of living in the countryside, of tasting rural life. Being a painter I was drawn to the quality of light in the south of France.

Driving around the south in our VW combo on our way to Spain in 2003, we came upon the Cevennes region quite by chance and we fell in love with it straightaway. Somehow we knew we’d found the place to put down roots and have a family.

The Cevennes are a wonderful mix of almost desert-like rocky plains, which as one climbs further north away from the Mediterranean, grow gradually into the beginnings of mountains. Green oaks blend with olive trees and in springtime the arid rocky paths are a mass of wild spring flowers such as Cistus, Phlomis and Lavender. It’s a sight to behold and one that I never grow tired of.

One of the other things that drew us to the Cevennes was the interesting mix of people down here. The Cevennes was the go-to spot for a whole drop-out generation of French intellectuals in the early seventies—it is even known as a terre d’exile, a place of exile. Throughout its history, people have come here to take refuge from persecution, most notably the minority Protestant population in Catholic-dominated France.

Many of us who have come from all over the world to this region are artists, poets, writers, composers, designers, freelance workers as well as a whole host of eccentrics and hippies. This land remains a landing post and a refuge for nomadic artists and free thinkers such as myself to work and raise our families. I spend a lot of time on the road, traveling from country to country and I love the contrast that living here gives me. After gigs in the great cities of the world like New York, Paris, Rome or Montreal I can come home and reconnect with the earth and live in rhythm with the changing seasons.

From N˚5: Arrival.