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Now the summer has finally arrived, and before the schools break up, it’s the perfect time for a trip down to one of Marseille’s southerly beaches, Pointe Rouge. It’s sandy and sheltered and the life-guards are already in place. It was developed in the 60s, and the marina now hosts 1,800 boats.

It’s easily reached from the Vieux Port.  The navettes maritimes leave on the hour and cost just 5€ each way. It’s a thrilling journey through the harbour, out past Fort Saint-Jean, Mucem and the big car ferries and then down the coast. Takes 35-40 mins.

When I visited two year ago, we had lunch at O’Pedalo which was a well-known ‘pieds dans l’eau’ eaterie; but it  has been threatened with closure for some time now, under the Loi Litteral. This legislation was introduced to stop the development of private beach clubs in France in order to safeguard public access to the beaches. This has affected some establishments at Pointe Rouge like La Bonne Franquette which was closed down.  O’Pedalo didn’t look as though it was open when I visited a week ago but I’m not sure of their current status.  Maybe phone ahead if you want to visit?

But there are several simple restaurants lining the sands – they presumably are within the law in that they can be quickly dismantled at the end of the season.  They serve simple menus, salads and pizzas and various formules.

I have read that the beach at Pointe Rouge is absolutely heaving in the school holidays, so maybe now is a good time to hop on a boat down there for a pleasant lunch on the sand?

Perhaps you saw the engrossing film ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ in Aix back in 2014?

It was the story of the young man who bought some boxes of prints and negatives in a Chicago market and set out to find the photographer. This turned out to be an enigmatic lady who had worked as a nanny in the city for 40 years and spent her free time, Rolleiflex in hand, taking extraordinary photos of people and the street-life around her.  A bequest also financed a solitary round-world trip in 1960.  She was to take 100,000 pictures in all.

Now some of them will be on show  in Marseille, from 22nd June-8 July.

The organisers, Phocal, will also be showing the film and holding a weekend photography stage.

At Les Docks Village, space 200.

Daily 10-19hrs.

Ai Weiwei at MuCEM

This is a highly political show – highly personal too.  Much is about the artist’s relationship with his father whose ship from Shanghai back in 1929 docked right next to where MuCEM is today. Indeed it was France that inspired him to become a poet, a dangerous occupation back in China where he was later forced into internal exile for 20 years; which underlies the political theme of his son’s exhibition, that of the refugee.

Colored House 2015

Ai Weiwei has made items specifically for Marseille, in the first large-scale exhibition of his work in France.  In the first room, visitors see one-tonne cubes of Marseille soap, one inscribed with the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the other with a Chinese Declaration of the Rights of Women.  The centre-piece of the first room however is a recreation of a Chinese house from the Ming Dynasty, strikingly colourful in the cool white geometry of the gallery. But its covering in modern industrial paint is a comment on China’s modern rush to economic progress.

‘A small act is worth a million thoughts,’ Ai Weiwei

This theme carries through into the second room where the centre-piece is an installation of 61 chandeliers mounted on a traditional bottle rack. It evokes the type of lighting in international hotels in Chinese megacities, contrasted to the humble support of the bottle rack.  It’s dazzling.

‘Creativity is part of human nature.  It can only be untaught’, Ai Weiwei

The destruction of these blue and white dragon bowls symbolises the effects of the Cultural Revolution

Elsewhere in the room, there’s an installation of pots from 5000BC slopped with industrial paint (you may have seen these at the RA in London), plus a 2016 series of portraits of the artist made from lego.

‘A refugee could be anybody.  It could be you or me. The refugee is a crisis, a human crisis’, Ai Weiwei.

  • Info-boards in French and English
  • Exhibition opens tomorrow; but from 16:00 hrs today, it’s ‘portes ouvertes’, free entry, with DJs performing  on MuCEM’s wonderful terrace.
  • MuCEM closed on Tuesdays except during August when it is open every day….good!
  • Entry 9,5 euros for over 18s.  Free first Sunday of the month.

‘My conclusion is we are one humanity.  If anyone is being hurt, we are all being hurt. If anyone has joy, that’s our joy’, Ai Weiwei.

THE EXHIBITION RUNS UNTIL 12 NOVEMBER 2018

 

The Ballet Preljocaj is holding free public rehearsals of its forthcoming shows:

19th June, 18:00 for Helikopter

3rd July, 18:00 for Création 2018.

Contact the Pavillon Noir on 04 42 93 48 14 to reserve.

If you would like a preview of MuCEM’s summer show, ‘Ai Weiwei Fan-Tan’, head off down there on Tuesday 19th June when there is free entry 16-23:00hrs.

Plus…. Continue Reading »

The Institute for American Universities hosts lecture series, symposiums, and conferences each term with speakers from the IAU Faculty, Resident Fellows, Visiting Scholars, local community leaders, as well as experts in fields relevant to the current events of the region.

Joan of Arc is the subject of one of the lectures in the series

They have pulled together a series of talks, starting next week, which cover a wide variety of topics and sound intriguing and challenging in equal measures.  Public welcome!

 

Summer 2018 Lecture Series

IAU Main Hall
2bis rue du Bon Pasteur, Aix

“La Politique Environnementale de la France Après les Accords de Paris” (in French)
Dr. Sébastian Llorca
Aix-Marseille University
Tuesday, 19 June at 6:30pm

“Resilience at Home and Away: Strategies for Adapting and Excelling”
Dr. Sue Wasiolek
Duke University
Wednesday, 20 June at 6:30pm

Islamism in the Post-Arab-Spring Novel: Tunisia and Syria”
Dr. William Granara
Harvard University
Tuesday, 26 June at 6:30pm

“Stolen Justice: The United States Supreme Court and Equal Rights”
Lawrence Goldstone
Author
Wednesday, 27 June at 6:30pm

“The Secret History of Joan of Arc”
Nancy Goldstone
Author
Tuesday, 3 July at 6:30pm

“A Mediterranean Saint for Christians and Muslims: Saint George and al-Khidr”
Dr. Erica Ferg Muhaisen
University of Colorado Denver
Wednesday, 4 July at 6:30pm

“Political Loneliness and America’s Hidden Trump Supporter”
Dr. Jennifer Gaffney
Gettysburg College
Tuesday, 10 July at 6:30pm

Members of the Ballet Preljocaj will be performing on Friday evening at the Musée Granet during their Nocturne Dansée.  A good opportunity to check out the new Picasso-Picabia exhibition whilst enjoying some contemporary dance.  The museum will be open until 22:00, and the dancing will take place at 20 and 21:00hrs, each performance taking 35 minutes. Continue Reading »