Villefranche sur Mer

Villefranche sur Mer
it all starts with a beach

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Beautiful Cannes

I'm on the top floor of a 5-story walk-up...a little studio in Le Suquet, Cannes' old town (vielle ville). From the open french windows, a get a constant sea breeze and look over red-tiled rooftops to the port, the Film Festival Palace, the Croisette of Chanels and Guccis, and the curve of beach setting Cannes off from the deep blue Mediterranean.

It is my home now for seven weeks - a walk, bus, boat, or train to nearly everything I want to visit still. I add Paris to my wish list this morning...and Spain.

I break for an almond croissant, a pillowy confection from the patiserie on the corner, my first in France (stuck so on pain chocolate). "Oui, oui, bon bon," as my friend, Yvonne used to say. The last time I did any real time in France was with Yvonne, following a FIABCIconference in Montreux (Switzerland). We rented a car in Geneva, heading south through northern and coastal Italy, along the riviera, up through the Provence and through the chateau and wine regions into Paris. Ahhhhh, Paris. I think now about going again. Pourquoi pas?

I leave tomorrow for a week with the monks on isle St. Honorat, a 20-minute ferry from Cannes, returning the end of the month to another sweet little studio in Le Suquet, my home base for further exploration and discovery. Arles, Avignon, Aix en Provence, other places nearby. I don't know about communications on the little island or when I'll be back in touch, so bon journee mes amis.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Mougins is a clusterfuck of bad bus karma. I miss two busses, get on one going the wrong way, have one pass me by while I'm sitting at the bus stop (I end up walking 4-5 miles)...but worth the trip! Killer views over the panorama - Mediterranean to the Alps -  and a sweet villàge perché, filled with artists and galleries, restaurants and cafés, history and culture...and the MACM.

La Muséé Photographie mainly features photos of Picasso (the great) by his photographer friends, especially André Villers, whose donations to the city of Mougins made the museum possible. These virtuosos of the camera make Picasso come alive, both in his work and his family life.

The pièce de resistance is the MACM, Muséé d'Art Classique de Mougins -ancient roman, Greek, and Egyptian art to modern pieces in amazing juxtapositions. Four floors of paintings, sculptures, carvings, and more puts Mougins on the map and visitors up close and personal with the beauty of the ancient world and its influence on neoclassical, modern, and comtemporary art by artists like Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Dufy, Cézanne, Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Man Ray, Calder, Lichtenstein, Rubens, Klein, Degas, Dali, Warhol, and others. Interactive touch screens further enrich the experience.
A mighty army of artists live here!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Magnificent Monaco!!

what can one say about this beautiful, fabulous, sparkling place?
that it has EVERYTHING! -
glamour, a vielle ville, classic port, gorgeous structures...and parks...and gardens.
views...amazing views. food...excellent food.
a subterranean train station with posted schedules and lifts that work.
buses that run on time...and Ferraris and Lamborghinis - eye candy for the rest of us.
and art...did I mention the art?!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Art Lovers

“ArtLovers”, the current exhibit at the fabulous Grimaldi Forum (Monaco), is simply Brilliant! Bellissimo!! 
It's a labyrinth of fun and fabulous, disturbing and explosive art from the collection of Pinault, representing thirty-three artists and forty major works by artists like Maurizio Cattelan, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Rudolf Stingel, Damien Hirst, Giulio Paolini, Yan Pei-Ming, Zhang Huan, Sturtevant, Charles Ray, Bertrand Lavier, Jonathan Monk, Sherrie Levine...the list goes on. Sculptures, paintings, mixed media, film. More.

The grand opening and icon for the show is Jeff Koons' Hanging Heart (Red/Gold, 1994-2006, high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating)

It's a pathway into the diversity of explicit or intimate dialogues carried on between works of art, and their reinterpretations by artists, past and contemporary. And YOU, the viewer.

Takashi Murakami

Douglas Gordon

Piotr Uklanski

This show "... underlines the beautiful idea of the co-presence of several works in the heart of a single one, the fact that when one is in front of a work of art, it’s not the only work one is looking at, but several, and perhaps all the works of art ever done. What it expresses most of all is the fact that this relationship between art works is placed, in the vision of the artist and especially in the vision of the viewer, under the sign of pleasure, of the game and of the love of art."  Martin Bethenod (Curator), remarks recorded by Nathalie Varley.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Le Cannet - a pleasant surprise!

Following my morning trip to Marché Forville, I'm off to the Muséé Bonnard. The women at the bus station recommend it, advise to take bus #1 Cannett, which drops me off right across the street from the museum. And how lovely!

 Opened in 2011 to honor famed Cannet artist, Pierre Bonnard, the museum houses many Bonnard masterpieces, especially landscapes, inspired by his adopted town.

"During my morning walks, I amuse myself by defining various  concepts of landscapes - landscape, intimate landscape, decorative landscape, etc. But each day I take in different elements - the sky, the objects, everything is constantly changing.
One could end up drowning in it. But it enables us to live."
Pierre Bonnard, 1940.
Vue du Cannet, P. Bonnard

The current collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures (from museums and private collections) is a force, featuring Bonnard, Brancusi, Matisse, Picasso, Renior, Maillol, Van Dongen, Vuillard, and other masters, creating Les Belles Endormies (Sleeping Beauties). Caught in that magic suspension of time (sleeping, resting, dreaming), these femmes showcase the artistic talent of artistic greats in the late 1800's, early 1900's. By the fourth floor I'm thinking that the models have all fallen asleep...and I need  a coffee. Beautiful show!!                                                                                                                      La Nuit ou La Lune, 1922 Kees Van Dongen

 Elle est belle comme ceux qui n'ont pas souffret...
Seulement un peu ple d'avoir depuis cent ans
sommeille sans les arbres, sans voir le ciel.

" Je reve, donc je suis" 
(I dream, therefore I am) - 
August Strindburg

Femme Couchee, 1932
Pablo Picsso

Femme assoupie sur un lit ou l'indolent, 1899, Pierre Bonnard

(some art shots courtesy of the museum)

I wander the gardens and notice the church next door, heading around to the Eglise Sainte Philomene.

Later sauntering up a small street I find...surprise! A square overlooking the church the museum, and the entire Cannes coastline.

The old village is a surprise and a treat. After a chocolate glacé, I take 'Bonnard's promenade' and enter the artist's universe - a cultural stroll to 8 sites, all painted by Bonnard.

Ubiquitous to every French town is a war memorial to those lost in 1st and 2nd world wars. I stand at each, saddened by the "children of" - Cannet...Biot...Mougins...Vence...Nice...EVERY town -  killed by national violence.

 I watch children playing netless volleyball in a park, enjoy all the painted buildings 
(this is an artists' world). Overall, this town just feels PLEASANT. 
Lots of palms, hibiscus, and bamboo everywhere...feels like home.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A fabulous day in St. Tropez!!

We hop aboard the Trans Cote d'Azur in Cannes and in just over an hour (passing a beautiful coastline of hillside villas, mountains, fishing villages), arrive at the jet-setting town of fabulous fashion boutiques, expensive restaurants, yachties, artists, and celebrities. St. Tropez hosts nearly 6,000 residents...and up to 100,000 tourists per day! Brigitte Bardot put this charming village (and the bikini) on the map in the 1950's, and today's stars keep it there. 

Aside from great people-watching, St. Tropez is still a charming French port, discovered by artists, with cobbled back streets, markets, local shops ($5 paninis, with choice of drink), parks complete with games of boules and petanque. But restaurants like Senequier ($9 un café) and hotels like Byblos ($3kE pn) cater to the rich and famous in their own enchanted enclaves.

This summer's collection at Le Muséé de l'Annonciade, "The color in the light of the East: from Delacroix to Matisse", features Signac, Cross, Bonnard, Derain, Vlaminck, Delaunay, Picasso, Kandinsky, and of course Delacroix and Matisse. Fabulous!

We drop by one of the beaches, then hike up to l'Eglise Notre Dame. As the day lengthens and yachts come and go, the sky morphs even bluer, and on the boat trip back, we again zip by the famous Corniche D'Or, arriving back in Cannes before six...home sweet home :-)