We rarely see big spider webs as beautiful as this one. We've has been watching the progress of it's reconstruction ever since I inadvertently broke it when I walked past it - or rather through it - when I was in the garden. Ever since, I've walked round it, encouraging the dogs to do the same because it's such a shame to destroy such a beautiful structure.
In reality, we needn't have worried, because according to Wikipedia This is an Orb Weaver spider (So called because of the wheel-shaped spiral webs they build.) and these spiders are said to eat their webs each night along with many of the small insects stuck to it. They then spin a shiny brand new web in the morning. These wonderful webs are built by the larger females who usually lie head down on the web waiting for prey to get entangled in it. The insect is then captured and wrapped in silk.
The spider isn't aggressive and will only bite if provoked but the venom isn't dangerous to humans. The much smaller male is obliged to approach the female very cautiously in order to mate as he risks being eaten by her.
There is more information about this spider and some amazing photographs (Especially the close-ups.) in Nic's Spiders
I was curious to find out a bit more about the geometry of the construction of the web as I remembered that the spider's web is a forex trading term - a golden section indicator which looks like a spiders web and is used as a key to stock market behaviour. (Presumably Peak Oil means that someone somewhere now has to do redo the whole thing!) I started a foray into economics and geometry then spotted this phrase : The epeira spider spins its web into a logarithmic spiral. ... which is composed of three bones in Golden Section to one another and takes the spiral shape of... Which led me to this this link (After a lot of barking up the golden mean tree) on the Geometry of the Epeira's Web Isn't the internet an amazing tool ? Imagine how much time and effort it would have taken to get this information from books !
It's fascinating to learn more about the world of wild creatures but first you have to identify them ! So my thanks to Kathy and Karunia in The France Forum who helped me find out that this is the common European garden spider Araneus diadematus and it's name in French is Epeire Diademe.