Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meet the parents

South of France is an enjoyable place to be...
At home when surrounded by art!

C'est pas mal ici, non ?
Arriving in Saint Paul
A narrow street in Vence
Mosaic by Chagall in Vence's cathedral

Une jolie fontaine a Saint Paul
La chapelle Matisse a Vence
View over Vence

My favorite place in the Nice area

My favorite place in the Nice area and my favorite person (not just in the Nice area)
My favorite...–oh, you probably get the picture by now :-)
From Q: It's sunny here in Aarhus today so the climate invites some friendly memories from my sorely missed four weeks in Nice last month. It's also Sunday, a day on which the family typically gets together for a copious and joyful meal. For these two reasons, it's perfect timing to pay a tribute to my parents who visited us in Nice while I was there.

My parents, Mireille and Jacques, were very helpful in helping us get an apartment in Nice. They also served as our references for the lease, as we could not come to visit the apartment ahead of time nor meet the owner. They were both psyched when we announced we'd be settling down in Nice, since they plan to spend most of their soon-to-come retirement in the cute village of Vinça where we have an old family house. This area is about 5 hours away by car, but still in super-scenic and magical South of France, as you can see on this post from last summer. It's just Spain instead of Italy on the other side of the border...

My sister is already in Montpellier, raising her daughter Mila with her S.O. Mathieu. My other sister Sigo almost made it down there as well but she is still in the midst of her studies, so life fluctuates a lot for her. It looks like she will definitely make it further South than Brussels, Belgium though!

My parents stopped by for two days on their way from Strasbourg to Vinça, right before Bastille day. So Chrysa was at work in the day time, and joining us for dinners in the evening. I spent the days with my parents, walking around historical towns, visiting museums, and going to the beach.

There were mainly two themes during my parents' visit. My dad grew up in Nice from ca. 1947 until 1960, so we went back in time... We found where he was living, we even went inside the building and it was fun to hear my dad comment on what had changed, what had not... Isn't there's just something always fascinating about hearing some insights about one own's parents lives "before you were born, son". Always makes me feel like we're getting to mysterious land.

We also went to swim in Beaulieu-sur-mer, where my dad did his first swim in the late 1940s. For sure the town had grown since, and he was not so sure about which beach has had been to any longer... But already back then apparently the most quiet time to go to the beach was 6am! That's when my grand father would take my dad for a swim. We also visited the beaches in Villefranche and Saint Jean, that Chrysa and I both like a lot (and prefer over Nice's beaches).

The second theme of this visit was contemporary art. My dad's first hobby has always been art. Painting and making collages (see here for one of his recent exhibits). The Côte d'Azur is famous for having attracted the most talented artists over the years, such as Matisse, Picasso, Cocteau, Renoir, etc. The vibrancy of the art community down there reminds me of that in Taos/Santa Fe in New Mexico.

We walked around the very cute village of Vence, which has a mosaic by Marc Chagall in its cathedral, and of course a few art galleries. We visited a chapel designed by Matisse on the outskirts of Vence. Matisse considered this chapel to be his most accomplished piece of work, and it is truly a wonder.

Most of the art galleries were in super scenic and now (mid-July) super touristy Saint-Paul de Vence, where Chrysa had already been in June. We spent quite a fair amount of time talking with various artists and gallery owners, which got me to suspect my dad's trying to get that kind of business started... stay tuned...

Fine dining in Beaulieu
My parents' visit ended up with a dinner on the harbor in Beaulieu with our friend Christiane, who was the best friend of my now-deceased grand mother. After dinner we enjoyed great Bastille day fireworks that were shot from the jetty. My parents left early the next day for Vinça, which they will leave again at the end of August.

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