Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

‘It certainly had some scary moments.’  That was le Fils Aixcentric’s take on the Via Ferrata at Cavaillon , even though he’s tried them out in the Alps.  Meaning ‘iron way’, a Via Ferrata is a series of scrambles along the mountainside linked by metal ladders, hand-holds, bridges and ropes.

The Provencal one has two loops, one of which goes through a tunnel tight enough to necessitate taking a rucksack off.  According to le Fils Aixcentric, just the first parcours is suitable for children over 10, as they need to be a certain height in order to reach hand-holds and so on. Adults can use both. ‘It’s interesting with nice plants along the way; but certainly a physical and mental challenge’.  It’s free to use but there are charges for renting the safety harnesses and equipment that are needed.

Interestingly, it is the only one in Europe accessible on foot from a town centre, in this case the tourist office of Cavaillon.  Details and 3 min film here:


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It was a snowy February in 1888, when Vincent Van Gogh left Paris to settle in Arles: he hoped to enjoy an idyll of colourful nature in the south, but brought with him his fascination for Japanese culture and its distinctive artistic style.

He couldn’t afford sitters so used to paint his neighbours; and it is a drawing of a young girl from Arles that is going on sale tomorrow at Christies in New York. ‘La Mousmé is’, he wrote to his brother Theo, ‘a Japanese girl – Provencal in this case’.

It’s expected to fetch 7-10 million dollars.

Also for sale, ‘Scene de rue a Montmartre‘ which he painted before leaving Paris. It has been owned by the same family since 1920 so not seen in public for a hundred years.  It goes on sale at Sotheby’s on March 25th.  Thanks to Julia for this info.

Vincent van Gogh’s Scène de rue à Montmartre/Montmartre Street Scene (Impasse des Deux Frères et le Moulin à Poivre) (February-April 1887) Courtesy of Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio

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Work is progressing on the transformation of Marseille’s Villa Mediterranée to become a showcase for a reproduction of the Grotte Cosquer.

This is a cave of ancient art, 37m deep under the sea near the calanque de Morgiou, and reachable by intrepid divers who have to negotiate a pitch-black 175m tunnel. Film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IacB-F1k_E

The sea level has risen hugely since pre-historic people walked into this cave for shelter.  Melting ice across the continent deluged the area, bringing water into the cave and submerging 5km of shore and land in front of it.  There seem to have been 2 waves of inhabitants – the first have left 65 hand-prints (27,000 years old) and the second 177 drawings of animals (19,000 years old).  These include horses, bison and deer as well as ice-age creatures like seals and penguins.

Apparently the sea-level is still rising and will eventually submerge the cavern with its ancient drawings.

So it’s wonderful for posterity that this is being precisely and convincingly recreated by specialists involved at Lascaux and more recently in the Ardeche caves.  A centimetre-by-centimetre reconstruction will allow us all the opportunity to experience what the divers saw, from the safety of little open-top carriages which will move visitors around the ‘cave’.

Here’s an insight into progress so far: https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/102031-000-A/la-nouvelle-grotte-cosquer/

Expected date of opening – June 2022.

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‘Villa’ perhaps isn’t the best word to describe this bubble palace formerly owned by designer Pierre Cardin.  The terracotta-coloured complex was designed by Hungarian designer Antti Lovag back in the 70s.  Without a straight line on site, the building’s inspiration was prehistoric caves – with an added layer of luxury.

The buyer will get 10 bedrooms with bathrooms, terraces and pools, plus a 500-seat auditorium over looking the Mediterranean at Theoule-sur-Mer.  Price not disclosed but last time it was on the market, the asking price was 350m euros, one of Europe’s highest.  Thanks for Julia for this info,

pierre cardin’s 1970s ‘bubble palace’ in the south of france is for sale

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Paul Signac’s painting of the town.

There was lots of attention focused on Nice and Cannes when the new lockdown at weekends was announced, but it takes in 63 areas in total, including Saint-Paul de Vence.

Having just posted on this charming village, I thought  I should add this info – visit on weekdays only, or keep for a future treat.


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Missing Aix?

Here’s a nice poster to delight all true Aixcentrics and remind us of sunny days in town…

It’s by Vincent Maunier, costs 20€ and is available from Chez Novoid Plus ; http://www.novoidplus.com/shop/maison-objets-c-48.html

Alternatively, if you are missing Marseille, the shop ‘Marseille in the Box’ has lots of fun items.  Their container for your oil will bring back memories of visiting La Bonne Mere.


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Perfecting Your French

I have local teacher Karina Vitiello to thank for this recommendation – daily broadcasts from Radio France International.  Each lasts for about ten minutes and covers the key news items.  The broadcasters speak very clearly ‘en francais facile’, and provide a transcript in English.  What a good idea!

Karina offers French sessions online – they are normally in a centre ville café; her details are attached, along with the link for Radio France International.  Newsletter février 2021

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A quick couple of useful links for you or your visitors this summer, providing we can all travel again soon.

From ‘France’ magazine, so these details of ‘new openings’ are from across the country:


and, thehotelguru.com has listed some lovely places to stay in Provence:


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Plans are in place for the forthcoming annual Festival d’Aix which, fingers crossed, will take place in July.

Enjoying Parade(s), a free concert, part of Aix-en-juin.

A more recent innovation is the Aix-en-juin programme of operatic events which take place around town and are either a taster for those who can’t wait for the festival, or a useful introduction to the world of opera for others.  More finger-crossing – it is scheduled for 10th to 30th June and, this year, will be free. (more…)

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…as it always does.  It’s just the perfect backdrop for filming and ‘Les Ombres Rouges‘ is no exception.


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