Archive for the ‘Book’ Category

Here is a great opportunity if you are a rat de bibliotheque as the French call book-worms (I love that one!).

There’s to be a book sale (more…)

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In 2007, John Maloof, a local historian in Chicago, came across some boxes  ofvivian_maier_vintage_prints_img_2910  photos and negatives depicting Chicago in the 60’s at an auction house. Unable to get a thorough look at their contents, he took a gamble and purchased the boxes for around $400.

He found nothing relevant for the history book he was writing so John put them to one side. After some time, he revisited the negatives and started to scan them. The images that caught his attention were historic in nature and he was intrigued as to the identity of the photographer.

She was Vivian Maier who had been a nanny in Chicago during the 50s and 60s.  In her spare time, she was out on the streets photographing people, buildings, signs, objects, unseen lives and landmark buildings long since demolished.  Her talent is clear but she was unknown in her lifetime.  She img_2595accumulated boxes of belongings as well as the photos and had to pay for storage – she had no home of her own.  When she defaulted on the payments, the contents were released to auction houses.  She died aged 83 in 2009, never knowing that she would become famous.

The documentary by John Maloof, ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ won awards and was Oscar nominated, and her pictures have been exhibited widely.  They can now been seen in l’Isle sur la Sorgue where the arts centre has a large display of photos and also a comfortable room where they are showing the documentary.


Vivian Maier captures her own reflection in a passing mirror

One room is dedicated to photos where Vivian caught her own image in unexpected ways.  Others show typical scenes of street-life usually featuring the ordinary people going about their daily lives.  It feels like another world.


Where:  Campredon Centre d’Art, 20 rue du Docteur Tallet, l’Isle sur la Sorgue.

When: until 19th Feb

Opening times: 10-12:30 and 14-17:30 Tues-Sun.

Logistics: just over an hour’s drive from Aix.  Large car-park just across the river from the arts centre.

Two warnings!   The Vivian Maier website appears to have been hacked.  Also this cold spell is not the ideal time to visit the town as the delightful cafés by the streams look like this….Hopefully there will soon be some warm weather to enjoy while visiting this very good exhibition.



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It’s always lovely to see the sunshine-yellow mimosa brightening the flower img_0032-001markets at the beginning of a new year.  All the green-and-red of Christmas is behind us and there are new things to look forward to, we hope! (more…)

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Figuring out the French

france-9781250096838For those of you who spend time in France and want to get to grips with this fascinating country, here’s a very comprehensive and readable book.  Historian Jonathan Fenby has just launched  FRANCE: A Modern History from the Revolution to the War with Terror ‘ which aims to be ‘the definitive guide to understanding how the wars and revolutions have shaped the history, society and culture of modern France’.

In 480 pages, Fenby recounts and analyses the sequence of events over 200 years, from the end of the First Revolution through two others, a return of Empire, three catastrophic wars with Germany, periods of stability and hope interspersed with years of uncertainty. 

It is an absorbing read, very detailed but with a strong narrative to help the reader through the complexities of French life.  And it isn’t just politics – cultural, social and commercial trends are included, all the strands which made up the zeitgeist at any time.  One of the benefits of reading a wide-ranging book like this is the privilege of distance and hindsight so readers can follow the development of situations, many of which are pertinent today.  Reading this book, it is striking how leaders so often repeat the mistakes of previous generations, and fail to listen to the concerns and grievances of the vast majority of the population.  Throughout French history, the difficulties of the working classes have been ignored, until they took it upon themselves to make themselves heard, with often bloody consequences. How we can learn from history.

The book is quite ‘dippable’ with anecdotes and pithy pen portraits of the key players.  I didn’t know for instance that the dustbins in Paris were introduced by local préfet and lawyer, Eugene-René Poubelle!

I think it would be a good gift for Francophiles, or an excellent point of referenceuk-version for the bookshelf.  The illustration above is the cover for the American edition just out.

The one on the right is the one you will get ordering via Amazon UK.  Cover price is £25 but it’s on offer right now at £19.99.


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musee-granetThis weekend, the shop in the Musée Granet is selling past catalogues and some books about 50% off.  It’s just a table-full but the discounts are good and I came away happy with 3!

Saturday and Sunday 12-18:00hrs.


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guide_12The 2016-2017 edition of Sésame is now available, free, from tourist offices – they certainly have copies in the OT in Aix. (more…)

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Arundhati Roy speaking in Aix

arundhatiThe annual Fete du Livre has, this year, Arundhati Roy as ‘invitée ‘honneur’. Dates and details of the programme have now been released:


A must if you are a fan of ‘The God of Small Things’ as she is just about to announce details of her second novel after 20 years.

Although it is listed on the OT website, they don’t have tickets.  You have to get them via the Cité du Livre.

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