Posts Tagged ‘Arles’

image-boutique1La Belle-fille Aixcentric is not only a great cake-maker but she is also Arlesienne so when she recommended this café, I thought I should pass on the info.

It’s been started by two of her friends, Wendy and Amélie, who love (more…)

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This weekend, the Roman boat which had been on the bed of the Rhone for nearly 2000 years was finally unveiled in Arles; it’s all pieced back together, carefully preserved with resin, and quite magnificent.roman boat  The 31m boat had been sailing down the river with a cargo of 27 tonnes of stone when it sunk in a flood.  (more…)

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La Nuit des Musées on Saturday evening (18th May) is being celebrated throughout Europe.  The museums in Aix are open til late, will be free and some will offer music.  It’s quite nice to wander around them all and town is usually pretty busy.  Details here: http://www.ifestival.fr/article.php?id=3832

More exciting is the inauguration in Arles of Venus after 330 years in Paris!Venus_of_Arles_Louvre_Ma439_n01


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monopSome good news for Aix-based shoppers in that the new Monoprix will be opening early June.  It will be in the building behind the palais de Justice which has been empty for over 2 years since Décathalon left.  I always thought it was a shame they went as it was very handy to have a (more…)

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The works of Auguste Rodin are being celebrated at the Muséeaffiche Rodin Departemental Arles Antique in a major exhibition which gives us a chance to see them before they wow Paris at the end of the year.

The exhibits will show how Rodin was inspired by Greek and Roman sculpture: there are 264 statues and drawings, 132 by Rodin alongside 132 from antiquity.  They have come from the Louvre and the British Museum, as well as museums in Melbourne and Boston.  Info here: http://www.arles-antique.cg13.fr/.  Guided tours which last just over an hour take place at 12 and 16:00hrs and cost just 2€ on top of the normal entrance fee.  The museum is outside Arles and has a big car-park. Really easy to visit from Aix.

But his relationships with the people around him were wanting to say the least.  Last year I reviewed ‘Hidden in the Shadow of the Master‘ in which Ruth Butler described his treatment of his eventual wife Rose Beuret.  Young sculptor Camille Claudel wascamille another person who suffered from her experiences as his pupil and then his mistress.  Her sad descent into mental illness led to her being committed to an asylum in the Vaucluse, 100 years ago, and the institution have commemorated this by mounting an exhibition of 13 of her sculptures.  Read about it here: http://www.ch-montfavet.fr/.  Camille lived there for another 30 years, until her death in 1943.  A film of her experiences, starring Juliette Binoche, was recently showing at the Renoir, but I just couldn’t make myself watch it.  What a sad story.  But it’s good that she is getting some belated recognition. More on these two artists:  http://www.musee-rodin.fr/en/rodin/educational-files/rodin-and-camille-claudel

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IMG_4813It’s not often you visit a gallery with a massive Algeria Ferries boat docking alongside but that’s what happened yesterday when I called in to J1 to see the latest expo ‘A La Gitane’.gipsyposter

It’s a small collection of items – mainly photographic – pertaining to the lives of gypsy families who live in Arles.  They are gitans catalans with a few Roma from Hungary or Roumania, who speak French and their own mix of Catalan.  The town of Arles has invested in 47 homes for them in an enclave called Quai des Platanes just off the autoroute.  The architect has tried to make the dwellings a little like traditional gypsy caravans.  dwellings

Cleanliness is very important in their culture and the women spend all morning in their pyjamas attending to household tasks; they get ready at 13:00 for their day.  Cooking is mainly done outside and seems to be communal.  Generations live together with the elderly providing guidance for their families, and the mothers being key influencers in society.  The men make money where they can, often on markets or selling door-to-door, and are responsible for the ‘cadre’ for behaviour in their community. 

Local school children have been involved in interviewing the gypsies and their drawings enlived the exhibition.  The tone is very positive, almost celebratory.  It is in marked contrast to the derogatory TV documentaries on UK TV.

It’s too small for a special trip, but if you are going to see Mediterranées, the major exhibition, do put aside a half hour to look at this.  Free. Daily 12-18hrs.  On til 17th March. 

Note: the J1 gallery closes mid-May until September as it is only a temporary space and lacks air-conditioning. 

‘Poissons Coquillages et Crustacés’ are on the menu at the Maison de l’Artisanat in the cours d’Estienne d’Orves until 16th March.  There are some lovely pieces – a wonderful wire and fabric lobster with glittery embroidery, pictures of Marseille fish-sellers, pretty mobiles of ceramic fish swirling in the air.

octopusfishceramic fish

Open Tues-Fri 10-12, 13-18.

Sat 13-18. Free.

They are also giving away free copies of this colourful exhibition poster, or at least they were yesterday.

And finally, a visit to Pavillon M is definitely worthwhile – I’ve described it in a previous post.

What I didn’t realise is that you can have a special e-post card, Greetings from Marseille, made and sent to the email box of your choice.  It’s a shame they stand you in front of the bit that says ‘Marseille’ but there we are.  A fun souvenir for the kids!


There is so much happening in Marseille right now.  And much more to come when, finally, the major new galleries open in the coming months.

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The famous bust of Caesar, fished out of the Rhone 5 years ago, and just back from its show at the Louvre, now has a large question mark over its identity.  Is it really Caesar?

Last week there was a conference of archaeologists in Arles on the theme of Roman statuary in France, and the thinking is that the subject could have been either a local noble or even a freed slave.  The only likenesses of Caesar that exist are on coins so it is hard to cross-check; the archaeologists also believe that there was a ‘look’ that sculptors would follow – a fashion almost – that makes it difficult, now, to distinguish one person from another.

One theory is that two years before his death, Caesar passed a law which dictated that all temples and official buildings should have a bust of himself… this self-aggrandising behaviour was one of the reasons for his later assassination. After his death, the bronzes were melted down and the marble busts incinerated.  Locally this would have happened in ovens at Trinquetaille opposite Arles. Waiting in a heap for destruction, the thinking is that various unwanted statues were swept into the river by floods – hence the number which have been recovered.

The debate continues but the archaeologists have agreed that it should henceforth be called ‘le César d’Arles’, archaeology not being an exact science.

The Musée Departemental de l’Arles Antique has lots of statues, amphorae, pottery etc rescued from the river with great little videos of them being pulled out of the muddy river-bed, plus graphics of what the town would have looked like.  It’s very easy to visit – just off the main road with lots of parking.  Check the website for details of their opening times and programmes.

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Two hundred and seventy-one festivals!

That’s the number taking place in local town centres, villages, parks and open-spaces this summer as  colourful programmes of music, dance, historical enactment, stand-up, tribute bands burst into life.  Here is an excellent website which lists them all – a total of 1869 separate events:  http://www.terredefestivals.fr/ 

Photographers will be flocking to Arles from tomorrow for the annual Rencontres d’Arles Festival which this year has 60 expos celebrating 30 years of the Arles-based ENSP – Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Photographie. 90-minuted guided tours of the exhibition sites can be organised through the ticket outlets. Until 23rd Sept. www.rencontres-arles.com

Réné Seyssaud – L’Ivresse de la Couleur is a retrospective of this Marseillais painter (1867-1952).  He worked in many of the seaside towns in the Var and from his final home and studio on the Etang de Berre. He painted landscapes, sea-scapes and still-lifes with bright colours using paints he made himself.  14th July – 18th November. At the Fondation Regards de Provence, palais des Arts, Cours Julien, Marseille.  Open daily 10-18:00hrs, exc Aug 15th.  Admission 5€. www.museeregardsdeprovence.com

Across town, the Fondation Monticelli has an exhibition of work by another Marseille-born artist Charles Camoin.  A colleague of Matisse and Manguin, he was a very successful painter, his colourful works influence by the Fauves and by his acquaintance Cézanne.  For more info, click here: http://www.fondationmonticelli.com/expositions

Doesn’t this still-life by Camoin look like the perfect Provençal table?

The summer evening markets – Les Calades – in the cours Mirabeau will be  starting later this month and will run throughout August – the TO should soon have dates.

‘Les Instants d’Ete 2012’ is a programme  bringing big-screen films to parks throughout Aix for the next 2 months of warm evenings – you just have to bring a blanket and picnic!  Click for details: http://www.mairie-aixenprovence.fr/Instants-d-ete-2012

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Over 2000 years ago, a boat loaded with 25 tonnes of stones sank in the Rhone and lay undisturbed 4m down on the river bed.  Divers discovered it during their explorations which uncovered the wonderful head of Caesar exhibited last year.

The 31m long boat lay beneath literally thousands of discarded amphorae and items of pottery – plus more recent additions like an unloaded revolver and an abandoned car.

It was typical of the flat-bottomed barges that the Romans used on rivers throughout Europe and was very well preserved.  The divers found its rudder, ropes, a mast, the sailors’ kitchen complete with oven. 

Carefully, the team winched the boat, in ten sections, up to the surface and it has now been taken to a special lab in Grenoble for restoration.  The wood had to be watered constantly and is now being steeped in resin for 8-12 months. 

In the meantime, the Musee Departmental Arles Antique (much more fun than it sounds) is preparing for its arrival in 2013 – it will be the most complete Roman boat in a museum.  A new wing is being constructed for the boat which will be shown in a realistic setting with over 400 objects taken from the river to illustrate the trade undertaken to and from Arles. I think that this museum does this type of display particularly well.

There’s lots of information on www.arles-antique.cg13.fr.  But I don’t know what happened to that car!


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The  programme for next year’s Marseille Provence Year of Culture looks amazing!

The opening weekend, January 12-13th, sees the unveiling of contemporary art installations in key locations of  Aix, an evening festival in Marseille with light shows along the coast and pyrotechnic displays on the Rhone at Arles.  And over our heads will be the Patrouille de France performing a new aerial ballet.  January and February will bring circus performances and lots of street activity for the young: hip-hop, electro, BMX, skateboarding.  There will be art in the shop windows, film festivals and even a new 250km hiking trail right around the region, to be called the GR2013.

Several new museums will be opening in Marseille around a completely renovated docks area and the Vieux Port pedestrianisation and spruce-up by Norman Foster should be complete. 

More soberly, the camp at Les Milles will be ready  to commemorate the 10,000 people interned there, and there will be memoires of other migrations: Armenian, Mahgrebian, Roma.  There will be an expo on the Panier clearances and  a virtual museum on the resistance in Provence.

June will see an explosion of art with: Rodin at Arles, Dufy at Martigues and a blockbuster exhibition on painting in Provence split between the musée des Beaux Arts in Marseille (Van Gogh a Bonnard) and the Granet in Aix (Cézanne a Matisse) with over a hundred paintings at each.  Christian Lacroix is curating a show at the Abbaye de Montmajeur and there will be a special exhibition in Cassis of painting done there by major artists.  Aubagne, historically a centre for pottery, will be showing ceramics by Picasso.

The lives of ordinary people will be captured by a ‘Grand Album d’Images’ and you can even upload your photo on to the MP2013 website to be illuminated on to one of the buildings if you want your 15 minutes of fame!

There will be lots of activity right across the region (see the map)  from village to village – even Martigues is organising a light-show on all the big industrial sites nearby.

The website www.mp2013.fr has the entire 207-page catalogue online which you can click through and read or download.  I popped into the tourist office in Aix yesterday to pick up a copy but – none available!  What was I thinking?


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