Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Oh dear family and friends, the trip just goes on...and posting helps me stay in touch with our wonderful experience, as I adjust to being home. During our stay in NICE (all caps to differentiate the ville with the description of it) we went back to the contemporary art museum and saw the work of Bernard Pages, whom we weren't familiar with and whose sculptures we really liked. What a treat for us. We also worked our way up one of the hills to the Chagall museum with its biblical paintings, lithographs, and more. That was a treat, also. I didn't expect to like his work as much as I did. We see so many of his famous images that we get ho-hum about them, but the work in the museum gave us so much more, the scale, the setting. The lithographs were hand colored and, again, works we hadn't seen before. So here are a few images to enjoy.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
NICE has a strong casino presence. One year, I was there for my birthday and our friends decided that I needed to play the slot machines for a birthday celebration. I did, all of 20 euro worth. It was fun, even though I didn't win a centime. This year, we didn't go to a casino, but enjoyed seeing the lights. Here is a view of one casino, and two images of the famous Negresco hotel. It's a beauty. The door man wears an old timey costume and the lobby is very plush with velvet seating, and crystal chandeliers. One night we had dinner at a restaurant called Restaurant d'Engleterre, which did not serve English food contrary to it's name. We had a nice French meal, which ended with fresh pineapple for dessert.
Monday, November 20, 2006
The plage is not made of sand, though there were a few small spots where beach sand had been brought in. The beach is made up of stones, not little pebbles, but stones. One needs a mat rather than a beach towel when sunbathing. The water was so warm while we were there, that people were swimming, even though it was November. I looked up at one of the palm trees and saw clusters of green things...what are THOSE! Oh mi, they're dates!! I guess I've never looked up at these trees before or, when we'd been to NICE before, they weren't there. Cool to see that.
The area around the Cours Saleya is known as old NICE, where the streets are narrow and winding. It's filled with shops, restaurants, people, lots of tourists, but it gives the sense of what it was like before the city got popular with the English at the beginning of the last century. The signs are in French and the old Nicoise language. We enjoy walking around in this area. At one bakery, we bought Tourte de Blette, a NICE specialty. It's made with blette (we have no idea what vegetable that is, but it's green and we had it in cream sauce with dinner one night) which is the sweet filling between two cookie like parts, dusted with powdered sugar. Yummy. You can also get socca, which is a crisp bread made with chick pea flour. In contrast to the old city, there are many different kinds of newer architecture and wide streetsl. Along the Quai d'Anglais, Chuck spotted these two houses. What a contrast they are to each other, as well as the veille ville of NICE!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Notice how sunny it is? We loved having the warm sunny weather of NICE. It was beginning to get grayer and chilly in Paris so we were ready for this, though our friends told us that it'd been cool there, also. Meaning, we came at the right time. If our friends hadn't warned us about the street being torn up, we'd have been very shocked. NICE is working on a Tram system and the main street has been a worksite, a chantier, for three years, with at least one more to go. Many businesses have closed, making the area look very bad, not to mention, bad for the economy. When it's finished, we want to go back because the plans, which we saw at the architectural center by the Cours Saleya, look wonderful. The Cours Saleya is where the Monday flea market is held. Chuck really enjoys going through this and always finds some little treasures. I like to sit up on the steps and look over it. At the far end, the building facing me, with the hill behind it, is where Matisse lived and painted before he moved up to Cimiez. Over the wall is the boardwalk and the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea.
I went over to the art supply store earlier today and "bumped" into a former student of mine, which was fun. I was happy to be able to share with someone who would know why I was excited about it, that I'd met the person who started Artist Trading Cards. I normally don't put my picture (or at least not a close up) or pictures of other people, unless random street stuff, but Vanci Stirnemann had said to take a picture to show people that we'd met. So here I am, thrilled to have met him. How it happened...one day, I was in the reception area of the Cite and decided to look at the directory hanging on the wall. Look, look, look, people listed by discipline not country or last name, composeur, musicien, peinteure, sculpteure, video artiste, etc. Then I just started looking at names, there it was, Vanci Stirnemann, I did a double, triple take, oh mi god, and he was in the atelier two doors down from us on the very same etage. I couldn't believe it. I went upstairs and walked down the hall, stood in front of the door labeled: Zurich, and there was his name on a piece of paper taped above the sign. He and his companion came to the open studio, where I gushed at him for a bit, apologized, explained how I'd been saying his name for several years while introducing students to ATCs, told him about the show I coordinated for the Art supply store windows, and all the trading going on. He was surprised by how it had all turned out, so much bigger than he'd ever imagined. We had a nice calm chat, after I calmed down. He came by for an evening, some wine and cheese and chat, before we left the Cite. It was one of the highlights, for me, of our trip.
Our train, a TGV (the fast train), left from the Gare de Lyon...which I stated clearly to the taxi driver. I became engrossed in a magazine for a few minutes, felt the cab turn right, looked up and, WHERE WAS HE GOING? NOT to the Gare de Lyon, as we were at Place de Republique! I stopped him with a loud GARE DE LYON - Not Gare du Nord. He said oh, ne pas lointain which was crap (or crotte) as it WAS far out of the way EURO-wise. Grrrrr, I was a bit put out to say the least. Chuck said I was very clear when I said where we were headed. So the cabbie speeds off in the right direction, but with all the one way streets it's a long distance. We weren't late as I planned for us to be there early to pick up our reserved tickets. It just made me mad. The cabbie was distracted talking on the cell phone the whole time. When we got to the station, I gave him a piece of my mind in French, which for all I know sounded like blah blah blah to him, but it made me feel better. We got our tickets, headed for the train and got on what we thought was our car, settled in, then had to unsettle and find the correct voiture, 5 cars further down, shlep, shlep, shlep, our stuff, and when we got to our reserved seats, the couple across from us (we were in one of those cute little face the other seats with a table between you set ups) had sprawled all over, taking up more than there share of the little table, and stretching their legs into our foot space. Chuck ended up with his legs between the legs of the guy across from him, and ditto for me. Quite uncomfortable both physically and socially! The train sped along the country side. The landscape flew by. Here are some views, with the trees all in a row, the power lines, a river (perhaps the Rhone or the Saone) and finally our first stop, all the way down to the south, east of Marseille, the first stop Toulon. It was an amazing distance to cover in 3 hours. The rest of the ride to Nice was almost as long, with stops at lots of places including Cannes (where the long legs got off) and Antibes. It was very picturesque, following the coast line for a bit, then going up into hills, then down to the coast again. I was too busy looking to take pictures. I felt very happy to be in the south.
The day before we left for the south of France, we attended FIAC, the huge international contemporary art expo. It was held in two locations, the Cour Carre of the Louvre and a good long walk away, through the Tuilleries, at the Grand Palais. The work at the Louvre location was mainly galleries carrying younger, less well known artists, for the most part, and much that we weren't drawn to, but the Grand Palais location had higher end work, again for the most part, and more well-known artists, like Louise Nevelson, Cy Twombly, and others. Work was actually sold at this event. While sitting around at the G.P. I witnessed a "guard" bringing a piece out into the light for potential buyers to see it better. The walk through the garden to the G.P. was pleasant, nice weather, lots of other people strolling, looking at the sculptural works on display, including a "submarine" in one of the fountains. Some of you might remember the piece that was in the entry lobby of the VMFA by this same Indian artist. We were happy that we were still in Paris when this event took place and were able to see lots of art work.
Hard to believe, but my adventure in France has ended, well at least in body, but not in mind or spirit. I'm going to do a bit of catching up with posting images, so let the adventure continue....
After we quit the atelier at the Cite Internationale des Arts, we spent a coupe of nights with our friends K & R, who live near Pere Lachaise cemetery. We stayed on comfy mattresses in Ks studio. It was nice to sleep amidst his sculpture works in progress. Here's a view of a corner of his studio and the aubergine au gratin that I had for dinner one night.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Wow, I'm on blogger in FRENCH! I can't seem to connect with WiFi on my petit' ordinateur. We went to the Quik for petit' dej this morning where the WiFi is free but, though my computer got the signal my Safari wasn't identifying what it needed to...oh well. So I'm at an internet cafe that has a QWERTY keyboard. We're back in Paris and feel like we've returned home, sort of, but are ready to be back chez nous. We met up with friends on Friday and tonight we're going to the Cite for a gathering at the studio we'd stayed in and now our friend is in. It's gray and drizzly today, but we don't care. We love being here. Our amazing trip is nearly over. When we return to Richmond, next week, I'll do my photo posting. Until then, know that we're smiling and thinking of you, really, we are. Bises (those kisses on the cheeks)
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I've been on the road, without computer access, but taking photos to share once we get back to PARIS. We were in NICE,where we enjoyed meeting up with friends, strolling along the sea, soaking up sun. The weather was quite warm. We took day trips to a couple villages (St. Paul, Grasse) and enoyed them a lot. Last Friday, we took the train to BEZIERS, getting to watch the landscape change as we covered a lot of territory heading west along the coast. In BEZIERS, we're staying with friends, enjoying seeing their little town and nearby places. Our friends drove us up into the mountains nearby - Lamalou, where there are thermal baths; Olargue, where there was a chestnut fete and we had lunch. By train, we went to COLLIOURE one day, down the coast near Spain. It's the town where the Fauvist art movement started. Matisse, Dufy, Derain, Picasso, Charles Rennie Macintosh and others, all came to enjoy the light in this seaside village. Yesterday, we took the train to TOULOUSE, which is relatively speaking, big. We saw a terrific art exhibition there. Two things we were happy about: it was sunny & mild, and the "social action" (train strike) started after our train left to return us to BEZIERS. Whew! AND the strike ends at 8h tomorrow (8 AM) so our return train to PARIS is not affected. Another whew! My French improves daily, we continue to enjoy food, ah bread,cheese,pastries, and wine, and discovering new places, and visiting old friends. More from Paris where I hope to use my laptop and post images. In the meantime, gros bisous from the south of France.