This is a curious tale indeed: that of two beautiful white horses from the Camargue who inspired not one, but two, Inntravellers to capture a timeless image – first on camera and then on canvas.
First I talked to Andy Perrin, who related this delightful tale of an Inntravel ‘Slow Moment’, captured on camera (above) while on holiday in Provence with his wife Sue:
“Arriving at Marseilles Airport for the start of our Inntravel exploration of the Carmargue and Western Provence, we headed south for our first port of call, the evocatively named Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. (Or “Stez-Mary-Dealer-Mare”, as the hire-car’s mangled Franglais sat-nav preferred to call it, before we turned it off.)
En route, conversation centred on our hopes for our all-too-brief two days in the Camargue, a region we had never visited before, but had heard and read so much about. In particular, we wondered aloud if we’d be lucky enough to see any of the famed white horses, which were pretty near the top of our wish-list for the entire trip.
It was early evening as we approached Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, enjoying the far-reaching views on both sides of the road across open fields and marshland, lagoons and reed-beds, and looking forward to dinner at the Hotel Les Arnelles. My wife Sue spotted them first – the briefest flicker of white among the dense green waving walls of green reeds, which had disappeared again before she even had time to shout “Horses!”
With virtually no traffic on the road, we stopped, U-turned, and headed back. And sure enough, about 100 metres from the road, a small herd of a dozen white horses were coming in and out of view, as they wandered towards us through the shallow marshland, their heads just visible in tantalising glimpses, as they alternately emerged and disappeared above and below the reeds.
Parking up, we were able to walk in a short way off the road before it became too wet, to just stand quietly and watch them approach. At about 30 metres away, they must have caught sight or scent of us, and the herd split up, with half of them, clearly wanting nothing to do with us, heading briskly away. Others stayed where they were, but the two in my photo – and subsequently in Sue Levitch’s gorgeous painting (below) – seemed far more inquisitive, and just kept on coming.
And there and then, within just a couple of hours of landing, we enjoyed the first of the many wonderful ‘Slow Moments’ this beautiful region offered up over the ensuing fortnight. The two horses stayed close for a good ten minutes, before splashing away to rejoin the others. This photo, in which the horses simply couldn’t have posed any better, is my favourite for its sense of intimacy and symmetry. But the image has undoubtedly been enhanced still further by the painting, which has captured the moment perfectly.”
Fast forward, then, to part two of our tale, when we received an email from Inntraveller Sue Levitch, who had come across Andy’s photograph while browsing our Cycling brochure.
Sue explains: “My husband and I have enjoyed several cycling holidays with Inntravel, and we always look forward to leafing through the new brochures when they arrive. They are always so attractive and beautifully presented, and, as an amateur artist always looking for new subjects to paint, I often gain inspiration from the photographs as well. I was really taken by the lovely image I saw of two horses in the Camargue. I felt it really captured the feeling of the freedom of the wild horses enjoying the warmth of the sun on their backs. After I’d completed the painting, I contacted Inntravel to see if they would mind me entering it into a local competition…”
After checking with Andy, who was delighted to hear that his picture had provided such inspiration, we of course encouraged Sue to go ahead. As you can see, the picture has now been elegantly framed, and this beautiful image has completed its intriguing journey from Camargue marshland to gallery wall, thanks to two creative souls, each with an eye for a ‘Slow Moment’.