Les Couleurs de Printemps ~ A French Spring

Red Tulips against peeling white paint on a brick wall

Tulips at the Winery, Beaune, Bourgogne. 03/04/2011

“Les hirondelles sont là!” ~ “The swallows are here!” The phonecall from my friend’s brother heralded the official beginning of spring in France: the arrival of the swallows was proof of the season – as though any further proof were needed. Buds were sprouting on the trees, cherry-, apple- and plum-trees were covered in blossoms, and hardy bulbs were blooming in every city park and private garden.

There is something magical about the transition between seasons in a temperate climate. The air is alive with possibilities as new colours transform the landscape. It is one of the things I have missed most, living in the tropics where we joke about having three seasons: “Hot, hot, and hotter!” Growing up, I always loved feeling the change in air quality and watching the transition of colours as the seasons turned. And, after a seemingly endless Canadian winter buried in snow, spring, and it’s association with crocus, skipping ropes and Easter eggs, was particularly special. Spring is both a real time and a metaphoric symbol of growth, renewal, new life, and hope.

Three plastic chairs on a green lawn, Hostellerie Saint-Martin, Perignat-les-Sarlieve

Green Lawns Waiting for Summer Garden Parties, Hostellerie Saint-Martin, Pérignat-lès-Sarliève, Auvergne, 30/03/2011

Country Lane-les-Sarlieve

Wet Country Lane, Pérignat-lès-Sarliève, Auvergne, 30/03/2011

Yellow Forsythia Blooms

Forsythia Means Spring! Pérignat-lès-Sarliève, Auvergne, 30/03/2011

This stay in France during March and April was the first spring I’ve experienced for many years. Although the weather was changeable (often wet with chillingly cold winds; typical spring weather, really), I relished the rich scent of the warming soil, the sharp perfume of tulips, jonquils and other bulb flowers, and the subtle colours of new grass and emerging buds. Everywhere we went, the smells, colours and sounds of spring were all around.

Closeup: Green leaf buds

Buds, Pérignat-lès-Sarliève, Auvergne, 30/03/2011

Man Walking his Dog through the Wet French Countryside

Man Walking his Dog, Pérignat-lès-Sarliève, 30/03/2011

Apple Blossom

New Apple Blossom ~ Gnarly Old Tree, Pérignat-lès-Sarliève, 30/03/2011

Wild Violets on the Forest Floor

Violets on the Forest Floor, Pérignat-lès-Sarliève, 30/03/2011

Landscape: Wet spring countryside

Fluffy White and Grey Clouds Over the French Countryside, Pérignat-lès-Sarliève, 30/03/2011

Two large shaggy black horses

Wet and Muddy in their Winter Coats ~ Shaggy Black Horses, Pérignat-lès-Sarliève, 30/03/2011

Jonquils in a Street Garden

Jonquils in the Street, Beaune, Bourgogne (Burgundy), 02/04/2011

Short Sleeves and Blossoms, Beaune, Bourgogne (Burgundy), 02/04/2011

Red Tulips and White Daffodils in the Street

Tulips and Daffodils in the Street, Beaune, Bourgogne (Burgundy), 03/04/2011

Yellow and Red Tulip

Tulips the Colours of Sunshine, Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne, 05/04/2011

Large white crucifix

Large Crucifix ~ Christian Symbol of Rebirth ~ Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne, 05/04/2011

Hanging Orange flowers, Vichy

The Other Springs: Orange Flowers Outside the Vichy Spring Water Rooms, Vichy, Auvergne, 06/04/2011

Green Heart-shaped leaves

Fresh Greens, Montségure, Ariège, 21/04/2011

Spring flowers around a round fountain

Fountain Flowers, Toulouse, 24/04/2011

Spring flowers against red and white brickwork

Colours and Textures ~ Saint Sernin Cathedral, Toulouse, 24/04/2011

Golden Poppies

Golden Poppies, Toulouse, 24/04/2011

France in the springtime: a true sensory delight!


The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven
 All’s right with the world!
~ Robert Browning


Enjoy the season.





  • Signe Westerberg - May 5, 2011 - 11:41 pm

    I forget that in Bangkok you miss the subtleties of the changing seasons, I expect you have a prevalence of flowers but rarely the contrasts of which you speak. The things we take for granted as we rush through our busy lives, enjoy the magic of (spring) or in our case Autumn, with the crisp air, the coloured leaves and the excuse to curl up with a good book on the lounge or tucked warmly into bed. Finally my favourite time of year, a reason to dress well, not be sticky and to enjoy a good meal with friends… all without the beads of perspiration associated with our summer. Oh and listen to Lance whine as he mourns the loss of summer, and reminds me how much he hates winter…hmmm our differences make us stronger I hopeReplyCancel

    • Ursula - May 6, 2011 - 4:43 am

      Funny, isn’t it? Even in Sydney I missed the “seasons” I was used to, and would drive to Canberra for spring smells and autumn colours. Sydney seems to lurch into summer with very little notice! 🙂ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *