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The new Frank Gehry designed tower opens to the public on Saturday 26 June.

Long-time Aixcentric followers will have read about the development of the old SNCF railway sheds and shunting yards into LUMA Arles, a stylish arts centre, funded by Swiss industrialist and art-lover Maja Hoffman.

Hopefully the photo below will give you an idea of the scale of the ‘Parc des Ateliers’ site:  the large building with the blue-grey roof was a factory for making engines, and has been open for a couple of years for exhibitions.  Then there are various industrial buildings which were being converted when we visited, and past them (to the left of the photo), the new tower designed by US Architect Frank Gehry.   The whole 20-acre site will be a centre for studios, workshops, research, exhibitions, and link into the annual ‘Les Rencontres d’Arles’ photography show which takes over every square inch of space in the old town each summer, barring pandemics.

Reservations are necessary.

Full details are here: https://mailchi.mp/ae2aa955220b/j-8806802?e=22370d79db

The pandemic has certainly done wonders for online shopping – we certainly benefited from home deliveries – but isn’t it great that real shops are open again, and well done to all the Aix shops who have managed to weather such an unprecedented storm.

One of the prettiest shops in Aix is Rose et Marius, the fragrance-specialist which is just steps from the Place des Precheurs.

Its creator Magali writes: I wanted to share with you great news … ROSE ET MARIUS, Maison of Haute Parfumerie from Aix en Provence has been selected by the French president Emmanuel Macron to represent our Department at Elysée palace the 3&4th of July. Please find below the link of the Rose Wine fragrance candle hand made in France that will represent Provence : https://www.roseetmarius.com/en/bougie-grand-modele/3351-casteu-red-scented-candle-with-rose-wine-3760107480606.html

On Sunday, MSC Seaside set off for Sicily with an experimental group of 339 passengers instead of the usual 5000.

All being well, cruise ship holidays can resume in France on 30 June (Italy restarted in May), and the first boats leave Marseille on 4 July.  MSC say that they are strictly observing all protocols for passenger safety.

The dockside shops and ‘petit train’ operators must be heaving sighs of relief.


Art in Aix Gardens

The coming weekend sees the welcome return of Les Flaneries d’Art, the annual two-day programme of artists, craftspeople, musicians and actors performing in gardens in centre ville.  This year there are 19 performers in 6 gardens which open specially for this event.

A excellent opportunity for a peek behind all those high walls and locked gates!

Programme link here: https://www.aix-en-oeuvres.com/flaneries-2021/

Laura Owens & Vincent van Gogh

from 19 June to 31 October 2021

Opening next weekend, the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles will present an exhibition bringing together new works by the American artist Laura Owens with seven paintings by Van Gogh, most made in and around Arles.

Van Gogh hardly needs an introduction but here’s what the gallery writes about Laura Owens:

“Owens is one of the most celebrated American artists working today. For twenty-five years she has asked probing questions about the parameters of painting. She has expanded painting’s possibilities by breaking through the boundaries between painting and other fields of visual and material culture such as embroidery, design, children’s illustrations and digital drawing. In this exhibition, Owens’s works will host and respond to Van Gogh’s paintings. Owens spent most of 2020 living in and around Arles, and her new work comes out of meticulous research into the history of the city and of Van Gogh’s connections here”.

The seven Van Gogh paintings to be shown at the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles include loans from museums with which Owens has a deep connection. Hospital at Saint-Rémy (1889) comes from the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the city where she lives when not in Arles. Other key loans include The Fields, painted in Auvers-sur-Oise shortly before Van Gogh died.

“Laura Owens has often addressed the spaces where she has exhibited. For this exhibition she has created a vast painting, in the form of a unique hand-painted and silkscreened wallpaper installation, which will cover the entire walls of the rooms where the Van Gogh works will be exhibited.

Van Gogh’s interest in setting up an artists’ community in Arles is echoed in Owens’s career-long efforts to create spaces for other artists to exhibit. In collaboration with Maja Hoffmann and LUMA Arles, Laura Owens has also started a parallel project in Arles. She has turned an apartment building, located in the town centre, into a studio and living quarters for artists who will spend short residencies there; this space will slowly be filled with their, and her art.”

Details: http://www.fondation-vincentvangogh-arles.org/en/expositions/laura-owens-vincent-van-gogh/

Vincent van Gogh, Hospital at Saint-Rémy,
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, October 1889
Oil on canvas, 92.2 × 73.4 cm (36.3 × 28.9 in)
Gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation
Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles
© The Armand Hammer Collection


Two new exhibitions to mark on your calendar, both in nearby vineyards. 

At Rognes, the Chateau Bonisson is showing the work of two artists, Nicolas Chardon and Michel Verdux, under the heading ‘Cercles et Carres’.


The Le Dorze family from Bourgogne acquired the 10-hectare domaine in 2017 and have created an art centre, comprising 4 rooms dedicated to contemporary work.  ‘Cercles et Carres’ opens on Wed 16th June and runs until 26th September.  Free guided tours are available by reservation on Wed, Sat and Sundays.  Take the opportunity too for wine tasting and stocking up on their olive oil and honey.

Nicolas Chardon & Michel Verjux

Meanwhile, over at Puyloubier,  preparations are advanced for the forthcoming exhibition of the work of Alexandra Pitz (sculptures) and Manuela Donatini (collages) at the Domaine le Loup Bleu.

Alexandra is a Berliner living in Provence.  Her background is in set-design and costume creation for the theatre, opera and ballet.  She took up sculpture in 2013.  Her intriguing work at this show harnesses natural materials into melodic compositions.

There are two vernissage days 26th and 27th June, 10-19:00 and the show will stay open until 15th August.  The domaine proprietor is Sylvie Dubois who works with the ‘Art-et-vin’ organisation, a really useful resource for finding out what’s on over the summer.  Here’s her website: https://www.le-loup-bleu.com/

Thanks to Jules for his recommendation of these creative spirits!

…have come from the work being done to renovate the burnt-out brasserie in Aix’s Cours Mirabeau. Continue Reading »

Hotel Caumont in Aix is participating

The Bouches du Rhone tourist office has just launched a voucher scheme to help the local tourist industry; Tickets My Provence.

These vouchers can offset your bills at restaurants, museums, festivals and so on, whether you are a local or are on holiday.

To profit from 100 euros of vouchers:

  1.  Look at the list of partners on the website
  2. Enter your mobile number
  3. You will receive 100€ in ‘bons d’achats’ ie. 10 tickets of 10€, valid for a week
  4. For each 30€, you give a ticket of 10€ so you just pay 20€.

The scheme runs until the end of 2021.

Details and interactive map of participating organisations: https://www.myprovence.fr/tickets?utm_source=My+Provence&utm_campaign=d80328d05f-vacances-responsables-01-06-2021-tickets&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c72cda0555-d80328d05f-192001881&ct=t(vacances-responsables-01-06-2021-tickets)

For its fourth season, the Villa Carmignac presents The Imaginary Sea (La Mer imaginaire), an ideal subject for this idiosyncratic gallery:  part of it is housed in an old building with views to the sea below, while the other part is underground, a modern exhibition space beneath a glass-bottomed pool.  The water casts magical ripples across the gallery walls.

See a review from my visit in 2018; https://aixcentric.com/2018/09/20/fondation-carmignac-at-porquerolles-not-to-be-missed/

Visitors this summer will see works from its collection: Bruce Nauman’s fountain with a hundred bronze fish, Miquel Barceló’s subaqueous fresco and Jeff Koons’s sculpture of a lobster perched on a chair, among others.  Plus there are several loans of works by French and international artists such as Henri Matisse, Gilles Aillaud, Mathieu Mercier or Gabriel Orozco, complete the ensemble along with new productions by Bianca Bondi, Miquel Barceló, Lin May Saeed, Kate Newby and Hubert Duprat, which were created for this occasion.

It’s such a special place to visit.  The boat-ride over to the island itself is memorable as is the picturesque port.

The gallery is a short, 15 minute walk up from the landing stage.

Obviously pre-booking is necessary now under the new sanitary regulations, but it always was needed as only 50 people are admitted every half-hour.

Lots of details here: https://aixcentric.com/2018/09/20/visiting-porquerolles/

And after all that ‘Mer Imaginaire’, what nicer than to swim in the real sea at the nearby Plage Notre Dame, so often listed in ‘Europe’s Top Beaches’ articles.

Plage Notre-Dame, one of Europe’s top beaches…at Porquerolles