Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the Musée Granet will close its doors from Monday 16th March for an indefinite period.  At the Hotel Caumont Centre d’Art, where the lovely Japanese art exhibition ‘Les Grands Maitres du Japon’ is due to end on 22nd March, they have posted this notice: Continue Reading »

A quick roundup of news for art-lovers this weekend.  Let’s start with Martigues, a long-time magnet for painters drawn to the light, the water and the fishermen, with their boats, nets and cottages in this historic community.  The Musée Ziem is showing works inspired by the town; and after you have seen them, you can walk round the corner to the canal-side Miroir aux Oiseaux where the artists placed their easels.  Free; until 7th June.  Museum open 14-18:00, Wed-Sunday.  Cafes and patisseries nearby.

Details and downloadable flyer: https://www.ville-martigues.fr/information-transversale/publications/musee-ziem-exposition-andre-lambilliotte-entre-les-lignes-le-depliant-804

Off in the other direction to Toulon where local artists and writers are being celebrated at the newly opened Mediatheque Chalucet.  When I wrote my book ‘Art in the South of France’, I was surprised to find so many strong portraits and landscapes from local 19th century painters in Toulon;  the population was quite small at the time but it certainly had its creatives. ‘Peintres et Ecrivains Toulonnais’ is on until 31st May.  Details: https://toulontourisme.com/fiche/exposition-peintres-et-ecrivains-toulonnais-1800-1950-2/

In Aix, there’s a new exhibition of the work of Frederique Nalbandian at the Pavillion Vendome, starting on Saturday 14th, and a tour of the Musée Granet Highlights in English at 15:00 on Friday 13th.  Meanwhile, in Marseille, there is the Salon International de l’Art Contemporain which, as I write, is still going ahead despite this wretched virus.  They have announced that they will keep entries under the threshold of 1,000 allowed.

Christianne at L’Oceane

…with Jean-Jacques, Christianne & Romain, thanks to Susan Gish who writes: I’m sharing this sole plaice with you so I won’t be shellfish. I don’t want to flounder around! There’s nothing fishy going on here, so no need to be crabby but I just can’t clam up about this.

My favorite at L’Oceane is their Coquilles St. Jacques. I buy it in the shell and j’adore the corail (the roe). We can’t get the corail in the US. For some strange reason the fishermen cut it off right at the boat and throw it back into the sea. Quel dommage, the best part.
Scallop season is November through April and the best are from Normandy says Jean-Jacques.

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Here’s a book, in English, which takes readers off the usual tourist routes into hidden corners of Provence to find curiosities, probably not even known by locals: a statue of a pregnant Virgin Mary, a moondial in les Alpilles, a hotel room in a tree or a gypsy caravan, a village’s phallic balconies, a fountain that flows with wine, a church in a theatre, an erotic mediaeval bas relief, a countess who returned to life, a Provençal Villa Médicis, a false volcano at La Roquebrussane, a “sheep bridge” at Arles, a rain-making saint, an alchemist’s garden…

Near to Aix, there is lots of information on the tomb of Mary Magdalene at Saint Maximin along with background on the saint whose skull is preserved in the crypt. Author Jean-Pierre Cassely also provides interesting facts about the nearby grotto, its royal visitors and strange inscriptions.

Moving west to Maillane, I was intrigued to read about a cushion in the Frederic Mistral Museum: ‘made from beige leather and roughly sewn it bears the portrait of a face. This ‘cushion of life’ belonged to Native American chief Silver Eagle, who came here during the Buffalo Bill circus tour of France’.  Nobody seems to know how the cushion came here – but Cassely goes on to describe the impact of the tour locally, and the novel ‘The Heartsong of Charging Elk’ which it inspired.  William Cody enters our story yet again.

‘Secret Provence’ is a book to keep in the car, to read as you explore, or an addition to the bookshelf of a hotel/AirBnB.  It’s left me with a list of things to explore, starting with ‘The House of She Who Paints’ at Pont-de-L’Etoile’.

It covers the area from the Camargue up to Bollene, across to Digne-les-Bains and down to Hyeres, a large chunk of the south of France, but oddly both Aix and Marseille are excluded. That’s apparently because they each have a book devoted to them, but in French.

Incidentally, the author who lives locally gives tours of ‘Unexpected Aix’ via the tourist office: https://booking.aixenprovencetourism.com/french-walking-guided-tour-unexpected-aix-2h.html


Who has the most Aix-citing pizza in Aix? writes Susan Gish.

                                                         Let us know your favorite in the comments! Continue Reading »

Opening this weekend, a new music venue in Aix, called 6mic (pun on sismique maybe. Guessing here). When completed, it will be the largest in France – already it  has a salle for 2000, another for 800 plus studios and outside spaces.

It will be offering concerts including electro, reggae and rap.  Must be popular as the whole opening weekend is sold out!


Also opening tomorrow is the new show at the Carrieres de Lumiere at Les Baux de Provence, ‘Dali the Endless Enigma’ plus a short show on Gaudi. Music from Pink Floyd. Open daily until 3rd January 2021.

Closing this weekend – ‘Man Ray et la Mode’ at the Musee Cantini and at Chateau de Borely in Marseille.  And closed, sadly, Aix’s Anticafé, in rue Mignet.  A warm and friendly café with lots of workshops and activities. Wishing the proprietors well in their next venture.

Musée Matisse in Nice
14th February  – 4th May 2020
It can be a surprise to find well-known painters were also sculptors : I for one was delighted by the sculptures by Chagall at the exhibition last year at Aix’s Hotel Caumont.

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