Hiking in France 2: Andy Goldsworthy Sentinels

May 27, 2013

Andy Goldsworthy sentinel near Authon

Andy Goldsworthy sentinel near Authon

Andy Goldsworthy built three sentinels in this part of France, and we hiked to two of them — the Authon sentinel on Day 2 and the sentinel in the valley of Bes on Day 4.  All are accessible by road, but Jean-Pierre felt that hiking to them would give us a better feel for the land elements that inspired Goldsworthy.  The sentinels stand like guardians in the landscape.  Although there is no mortar in the stacked stones, they are solidly built — sturdy and steadfast.

Day 2 was perhaps the most challenging day of hiking for me.  We were on the trail from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Jean-Pierre had to make last-minute changes to our planned itinerary.  We were to have sheltered for the night in one of the Refuges d’Art (huts that housed a Goldsworthy sculpture), but the mountain road was too muddy, and it was impossible to get a vehicle up there with our heavy bags and camping supplies.  The adapted itinerary kept us hiking, sometimes off trail, and through more difficult terrain, for a longer-than-normal day.  At times I felt like a mountain goat!  My worst moment was slipping on a rock and stepping one foot into slimy, smelly swamp sludge.  There was also a scary traverse across scree, short, but Jean-Pierre escorted us safely across one by one.  I had a terrific workout, and the reward for the day’s efforts was seeing the first of Andy Goldsworthy’s sentinels.

Terrain Day 2

Terrain Day 2

The Vancon Valley

The Vancon Valley

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I found this shell fossil in a rock along the trail.  This part of France has many fossil sites.

I found this shell fossil in a rock along the trail. This part of France has many fossil sites.

Cherry blossoms near our lunchtime picnic spot

Cherry blossoms near our lunchtime picnic spot

Guide, Jean-Pierre

Guide, Jean-Pierre

First glimpse of the sentinel near Authon

First glimpse of the sentinel near Authon

This sentinel is situated in an open space at a curve in the road.

This sentinel is situated in an open space at a curve in the road.

The shape of the sentinel mimics a distant mountain peak.

The shape of the sentinel mimics a distant mountain peak.

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That's me with the sentinel!

That’s me with the sentinel!

Sunset at the sentinel

Sunset at the sentinel

On Day 4, after another day of hiking, we saw a second Goldsworthy sentinel in the valley of Bes.  This one was situated in a natural alcove in the looming rock.  It felt like a tiny beacon in a dominating landscape, and yet it felt protected, sheltered and cocooned.

First glimpse of the second sentinel

First glimpse of the second sentinel

The valley of Bes

The valley of Bes

Goldsworthy's sentinel, valley of Bes

Goldsworthy’s sentinel, valley of Bes

Again, the top of the sentinel echoed the shape of a distant peak.

Again, the top of the sentinel echoed the shape of a distant peak.

4 Responses to “Hiking in France 2: Andy Goldsworthy Sentinels”

  1. steviepreater Says:

    Looks fantastic!

  2. garden.poet Says:

    How utterly exquisite- sentinels and setting alike!


  3. […] saw nine Goldsworthy installations along the trail.  (You can read about that experience here and here and here.)  The $46 bus tour ticket to Storm King to see Goldsworthy’s walls was a much […]


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