Cautionary note to readers: If your fear of insects is so great that you would be terrified by the sight of a grasshopper that is longer than a metre (roughly three feet), then read no further. For the rest of you, brave hearts, read on.
You might already know that Daglan has been committed for some time to being beautiful in general — so much so that some visitors think it was built all at once by a modern developer, with the task of creating a perfect-looking village. Particularly in bright sunshine, the white/yellow limestone of which most houses are made is stunning.
Increasingly, Daglan has been committed specifically to art, and to flowers. And now we have added, of all things, insects.
Let’s begin with art. The village has several resident artists — painters, sculptors, and artisans like the charming young woman who designs and makes jewellery — and we regularly have special art shows and exhibitions. To make the point, here’s a sign at one of the entrances to Daglan:
As for the flowers, well, — they’re everywhere, in individual gardens, along the roads and streets, down alley ways, in fact in just about any vacant space that contains soil. Here, for example, is a median strip down the centre of one of the roads leading into Daglan (from the direction of St. Pompon):
Here’s another small sampling — pots of flowers in and around the water fountain that stands in the centre of the village square, the Place de la Liberté:
Confirming Daglan’s status as a village that’s full of flowers — and which generally tries to improve the environment and encourage a high quality of life — is this sign showing the village as a winner in the Villes et Villages Fleuris competition, a national program created in 1959:
Cautionary note to tourists: Daglan’s commitment to flowers is very deep. So if you’re visiting, it’s best not to stand in a single spot for too long, in case one of the village workers attempts to fill one of your pockets with soil, and plant a flower in it.
And now for the latest additions to our village-scape, a number of fairly large insects.
We’ll start with this huge grasshopper, located on a corner across from Daglan’s tea room and restaurant, Le Thé Vert:
As you can see just below the grasshopper, there’s a small sign. It includes a photograph of Daglan students who were involved in creating the creature, and goes on to tell all.
It says that for almost three months, students involved in the school’s formal extracurricular activities program have been helping to make the insects. They were guided by Françoise Regouby, an instructor, with the support of Thiery Cabianca, who is Daglan’s deuxième adjoint (or second deputy on the village council).
As I understand it, the program has two main goals: to teach the children how to recycle materials like plastics and lampshades, and to allow them “to discover the morphology of different insects.” (Morphology? I know — I had to look it up. It means “the branch of biology dealing with the form and structure of organisms.” Phew.)
In any case, it’s all very cute and attractive (unless you’re afraid of bugs, I guess), and the insects are located all through Daglan now. For instance, here’s a ladybug that’s been attached to the stone wall of a neighbour’s garage:
Dragonflies are another popular insect in Daglan, and here’s a group of them floating among some bushes beside one of the roads leading out of the village:
Closer to our home is a group of dragonflies hanging around Le Lavoir, the spring where clothes-washing was done in times gone by. (One has even been attached to a metal grill in the spring itself, so that it appears to be skimming the surface of the water.) Here are the ones hanging from the wooden shelter above the spring:
Our tour of Daglan’s bugs wouldn’t be complete without a look at the largest of them all — a praying mantis. Here it is:
A final bit of French: I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had much formal education in French insect names. So checking out the various insect-related panels throughout Daglan has been instructive. And just for your benefit, here are four insect names in French: the ladybug is a coccinelle; the dragonflies are libellules; the grasshopper is a sauterelle (pretty logical, since sauter is the French verb for “to jump”); and finally, see if you can guess the English name for La Mante Religieuse. You got it!