I haven't posted lately because I've been away to France for four days and as soon as I returned, I had to cram for the UK Theory Test. I'm happy to write that I've passed this first part of the test ! Next comes the Practical part, which is the driving test with the UK drive instructor sitting next to me in the car, barking out instructions like: "STAY ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD YOU DAFT AMERICAN !" I'd better get practicing.
I visited Nice with my mate Corinne, who had never been there before. I had great fun taking her to see all of the local sites, like the Old Town, the two old Cemeteries, the port and a few other towns in the area. I wanted to especially be in Nice for the Monday Antiques Market - which I absolutely love ! So the photos I'm posting today, are mostly of the same places I've posted all the other times I've been to Nice. I will, at the bottom of this post, include links to my previous visits to Nice - just in case you haven't seen them.
We stayed in a very charming, Nicoise style apartment. The owners had this nature theme going on, discreet touches of little statutes of: Chickens, ducks, fish, etc. The sitting room curtains, on closer inspection, I noticed had tiny, black, embroidered bumble bees and in the bedroom where I slept, the curtains had COWS of every colour ! I never knew this until I got ready for bed that evening. All I knew is that I when we chose which bedrooms we wanted, I had a really good feeling when I walked in that room. Now I know why. I love my cows. The kitchen was attractive and well kitted out with every possible appliance. It also had a little balcony with table and chairs, which looked out onto the old, crumbling buildings of the alley.
The apartment was huge, 1500 square feet. My mate Mia, was to come on this holiday also - but she came down with a terrible cold in her head and chest and had to back out. I really missed having her along.
The weather stayed near a beautiful 20 c. (68 f.) the entire time we were there. For me, the Antiques Market was the highlight of the trip. Corinne discovered and fell in love with an old, weathered, leather chair with chunky rolled arms - she regretfully had to leave it behind. As for me, I was all over the jewelry stands and loving the vintage pieces of linen fabric. Next time, I plan to drive to Nice with a large lorrie so I can fill it up !
In the afternoon, Corinne and I walked up the hill to visit the old castle ruins, the waterfall, cemeteries and to take in the spectacular views over the city of Nice. I know I've taken this photo many times, but I never can resist a shot of the earthy coloured, tiled roofs of the city.
I have this weird fascination with cemetery art and Nice, by far, has one of the most interesting assortment of tombs, statutes and headstones I've ever seen in my life. If anyone reading this post knows of any other intriguing cemeteries - please send me an email. Maybe I should start doing a cemetery blog which features nothing but memorial garden art. I have come across a few already. So if photos of graveyards makes you uncomfortable, you might want to skip these next photos. I took this photo because I liked the hues and tones of stone - pinks and grays - and the simplistic form.
Do you see the two women in the photo below? With a bucket of water and a sponge, they were lovingly washing the dirt from several family tombstones. It reminded me of the movie Volver, where in the opening scene, the cemetery is heaving full of women, cleaning the family memorial monuments. This is the Jewish cemetery. Corinne and I noticed on many of the grave monuments, there were small piles of rocks. Is this done by family members I wonder ? Perhaps every time they visit, they add a little stone to the pebble tower in remembrance of their loved ones. I must look into the significance of this. I've seen this one other time, when I was in Nepal - in the quiet valley of the memorial cemetery. Atop the graves of those brave adventurers who had succumbed to the mighty Sagamartha mountain range, were little pebble towers, each rock placed there with respect, by visitors passing by this spiritual spot.
Many of the grave sites are lovingly adorned with flowers - it's very touching.
When Corinne and I came across these two in the photo below - we stopped in our tracks. I must admit they gave me a creepy feeling. The young girl's eyes followed me everywhere, like a haunted oil painting.
Okay - on to one of my favourite villages - the ancient St. Paul de Vence. Last time I visited, was in January and many of the art and jewelry shops were closed for the season. This time - about 80% were still trading and what a day - just snooping around, looking at works by talented artisans. Whilst walking towards the entrance of the village, I saw this quaint cafe. The architecture reminds me of the little chapels one might find in Mexico. So rustic and pretty !
This art statement, a dress of paper and twigs - was hanging on the stone wall as we walked under an arch entrance to the shops of the village. The paper bits were more like celluloid film material.
A trip to France just wouldn't be complete without a photo of a Cat !
I love this sculpture !!
I wanted to show you the beauty of the village, including what I walked on. Take a look at the incredible work put into the paths that meander through this historic place. Millions of polished pebbles anchored in mortar. They were slippery little suckers - I kept sliding around because the soles of my shoes were smooth.
I discovered new pieces of art as we wandered about the village.
I've captured this little hidden-away square before - but this time I happened to catch this little buster playing in the water basin. She gives the image some life - innocent wonderment.
As we walked down the hillside and exited the village of St. Paul de Vence, we came to the spot where the locals play their afternoon game of boules. Boules is a bit like bowling, sans the pins and with more flair and passion. I've taken some striking images of the people on this graveled grounds. They take the game seriously and it's a wonderful tradition that strongly bonds the people together. I saw something I don't remember seeing the last time I visited. This welded piece of artwork - retired boules. I love it !
As we walked to the corner to catch the bus back to Nice, I came across a fruit and veg stand and happened to see this small bundle of radishes resting on a very old, water basin. It looked like a painting: shadowy in the background with light falling on the pungent root.
Day three - we took the 15 minute train ride to Antibe. So much better than the 60 minutes by bus.
Antibe harbor and in the background - a fortress.
We visited the Pablo Picasso Museum, a massive brick building, which housed not only Picasso's works but that of many other artists. I was impressed with the inside of the museum perhaps more than the artwork. The architecture, the floors, archways and stone walls were extraordinary. Corinne fell in love with the twisted, androgynous, bronze sculptures on the back-of- yard terrace of the museum. They stood stoically on the brick wall, their backs to the sea.
Our last morning in Nice, we caught the bus to the sleepy village of Ville Franche Ser Mer. This is village of fishermen. Looking out over the harbor, we discovered a family run soap factory, which makes bespoke, organic soaps, lotions, perfumes and bath goodies: natural sponges, bath foam and skin brushes. I love this market store front, displaying colourful fruit and vegetables. Shops like this one are common to the South of France.
Okay - so the photo below is not very interesting, nor pretty - but I liked it - so I snapped it.
Inbetween our travels - we drank too much beer and ate too much cheese. It was wonderful. Now I'm back to England, where today, the wind is blowing a gale at 70 mph and it's pissing down with rain. Gotta love it ! Here are some links to my past visits to the South of France.