photo by Jo Anne Marquardt

Off the autoroutes, driving through the French countryside, one is bound to encounter a tree-lined road with branches and leaves creating a tunnel effect with an overhead canopy. Whether you’re travelling by car or meandering on a footpath, it’s impossible not feel like you’re in a hidden the ethereal passageway. Gazing toward the farthest point, you almost feel like you’re travelling into infinity. The fat knotty trunks– with their spotted puzzle-like bark– line up to mark the route.

Branches, large and small, crisscross and twist overhead in a haphazard tangled web. Fluttery leaves take on a multitude of colours depending on how the filtered light strikes them. Drifting along underneath, sunlight creeps in to create dramatic patterns of light and dark on the roadway.

Some of these trees are old and have taken much time to grow into their thick, mature formations. Some may have been pruned to grow in a trained manner. Usually a variety of sycamore, or plane tree, they sturdily withstand the inclement weather. Mulberry trees often grace the main place in a small village. Birch trees form screens along rural fields. Whatever the species, these trees are magnificent, offering us their sentinel like glory, if we pay attention.

Tree-lined routes will vary in width from narrow walking paths, to graveled country lanes, to small paved rural roads, to super smooth highways. They exist pretty much in all regions of France. It’s always a pleasure to be travelling on one of these tree-lined canopied roads, feeling a bit carefree, on the way to who knows where. Take time to marvel at and appreciate the trees.

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