Monastère Saint-Paul-de-Mausole and The Dutchman

 

DSCN4216.jpg

I had been most anxious to visit this museum/hospital, for some time. When Rita said she wanted to visit the cave projection show, previous post, the plan for her most recent visit took shape. A quiet intuitive individual, I had a feeling that the walls may talk. They do whisper if one is silent and willing to hear.

 DSCN4119.jpg

Was it wishful thinking or simply artistic license that Van Gogh applied his brushes to create a much more sumptious version of his true quarters? Patients rooms were not decorated with art work and this special guest had access to another room within the hospital for a studio and much of his work was completed on the hospital grounds. Alas, there is no access to his atelier which leads this visitor to believe there is really no trace of it or that it is in the part of the hospital that is still active as a Psychiatric Hospital. 

DSCN4124.jpg

DSCN4127.jpg

Haunted with thoughts of suicide, Van Gogh chose a voluntary admission to the hospital at Saint Remy on 8 May 1889. He would stay there for a year and during this time would restle with bouts of deep depression. During his stay from May 1889-May 1890, he was most prolific in his work and produced a total of 142 pieces including Starry Night, Sunflowers, Irises, and a self-portrait that says so much about the man. If you have a favorite (that is a tough one) you can check to see if it was painted during his time at the hospital at the following site:   http://vggallery.com/painting/by_period/st_remy.htm

DSCN4137.jpg

DSCN4134.jpg

The view from his window of some of the terraced gardens.

DSCN4130.jpg

 dscn4231dscn4227

Our visit took place in late October so instead of the stunning flowers that would appear in Spring, we had the lovely colors of autumn. Van Gogh took his inspiration from nature so saw the beauty in all that it offered. 

dscn4214

dscn4213

dscn4211

dscn4202

Up the steps and just past the chapel, you will find the entrance to where Van Gogh’s room is. While there are other rooms here that once housed patients, those were not open. However, the salle de bains and the kitchen were housed there and I hope you find those photos as interesting as I do.

dscn4198

dscn4157

The salle de bains (bathroom) is situated directly across the hallway from the entry door to the chambre de Van Gogh. 

dscn4144

dscn4186

The kitchen, no longer in use, is maintained as it was during the time of Van Gogh.

dscn41781

dscn4102

An inner courtyard that still had some blooms.

If you enjoyed this at all, I do hope you will check out the book LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A MAN I KNEW by Susan Fletcher. She weaves a beautiful story about Van Gogh and some of the people who actually resided at the hospital at that time. 

On one side of the property we discovered an ancient site for both Greek and Roman villages. There was so much to see there, I fear that it may take more than one post to share some of its secrets. Like here, my camera just gets carried away…

Bisous,

Léa

 

Antonio Machado 1875 – 1939

“My soul is not asleep. It is awake, wide awake. It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches, its eyes wide open, far off things, and listens at the shores of the great silence.” – Antonio Machado

“Travelers, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.” – Antonio Machado

20171019_165035

While visiting Collioure, a strikingly beautiful beach village, several years ago with a friend, we ventured into the cemetery. On that first visit, I became quite curious as there were a large crowd of people surrounding one of the graves. The group stayed for quite some time and it seemed that it was a pilgrimage. After they moved on, I was able to take a look and unfortunately nothing more having my camera out of commission at the time. When my friend returned to France this time and suggested a visit to Collioure, I checked out my camera and prepared for capturing these photos. 

20171019_164832.jpg

While this group of four is a much smaller gathering than what I witnessed the last time I was here, there seems to be a steady stream of those coming to honor the great poet. It would have been lovely to have a closer shot but I did not want to intrude.

20171019_170347.jpg

As you can see, to the right of the headstone is a mailbox for those who want to leave a message. Those tiny white stones which appear to be scattered are actually placed as remembrances from those who come to pay their respects. Most have messages on them. Some simply have a date or initials. If you look back at the first photo in this post you can see some of those stones more clearly.

THE WIND, ONE BRILLIANT DAY

 “The wind, one brilliant day, called                                                                                                to my soul with the odor of jasmine.

‘In return for the odor of my jasmine                                                                                                 I’d like the odor of all your roses.’

‘I have no roses; all the flowers                                                                                                           in my garden are dead.’

‘Well then, I’ll take the withered petals and the yellow leaves                                                  and the waters of the fountain.’

the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:                                                                          ‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?’

– Antonio Machado

Born in Seville, the young Antonio moved with his family to Madrid in 1883 where he and his brother, Manuel, joined the Free Educational Institution. This was where Antonio discovered his passion for literature. At the age of seventeen, he lost his father and took on a series of jobs including acting. At the dawning of the new century, he joined his brother in Paris. Manuel already had gained employment as a translator. In Paris, Antonio encountered Jean Moréas and Paul Fort and other contemporary figures in the literary world including Oscar Wilde. Such connections supported his decision that he too would be a poet.Antonio’s first poems were published in a literary journal, Electra, in 1901 and followed two years later by his first collection in 1903, Soledades. A second edition was published in 1907.

Antonio was offered a teaching position, French, in Soria and there he met Leonor Izquierdo Cuevas. He married Miss Cuevas in 1909 when he was 34 years old and the young lady was fifteen. Three years later they returned to Paris. Unfortunately, Leonor developed tuberculosis and returned to Spain where she died on 1 August, 1912. Antonio was devastated by his loss and shortly after the publication of Campos de Castilla, he left Soria for good. His next home was in Baeza, in Andalusia. He published a new edition of Campos de Castilla in 1916 in which he included poems on the death of his wife.

Machado taught French in Segovia from 1919 to 1931 and this allowed him to live closer to his brother who was in Madrid. The closeness allowed them to collaborate writing a number of successful plays. Antonio also enjoyed a romance with Pilar Valderrama, a married woman who he later writes of in later poems using the name, Guiomar.

While still in Segovia, he declares the Republic using the Republican flag which he raises on the town’s hall to the accompaniment of the French National Anthem, La Marseillaise.  His philosophical leanings and moral declarations become increasingly clear in a series he published on the eve of the Spanish Civil War using the pseudonyms, Able Martin and Juan de Mairena. Machado was in Madrid when the war broke out and he was separated from his brother, a separation that would last for the rest of their lives.

His writing continued but made clear his sympathies were with the Republican Party. Machado, brothers José, Joaquim and their mother, were evacuated to Valencia then later to Barcelona.When the Second Spanish Republic fell, they were forced to escape into France where they found themselves in Collioure. He died on 22 February, 1939. He was buried there in Collioure. His mother died shortly after and is also buried nearby.  

If this is your introduction to Antonio Machado, I do hope you will explore his work and enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you.

 

20171019_165005.jpg 

Bisous,

 

Léa

 

14 Juillet, 2017

“I know a freedom, and that is the freedom of the spirit.”                                                    – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

DSCN3937 (1)
Preparation – before the crowd

It isn’t just about setting up and serving on the day. The Durban mon village Association has put in considerable time choosing a menu, the music, and the myriad of other considerations required to make this a memorable event. Just prior to the day, I witnessed several villagers creating the new countertop you see in the above photo. 

Celebrants begin arriving at about 7:00 in the evening and staking out where they want to sit, speaking with friends and taking a beverage from this willing crew.

DSCN3941

DSCN3959

The food begins! Bread, water, wine and such have been put in place and now the servers bring the first course. A half melon into which they will pour Muscat, a sweet, pale golden, wine. Though it is lovely, I opt for plain melon as I don’t have a sweet tooth. 

DSCN3961

A young couple with their three year old daughter join our table as the melon is being served. The young lady and her mom pass on the wine but watch her appreciate the melon as only a child can do.

 

DSCN3989

 

DSCN3991

Curried Coconut Chicken and Rice, it was delicious!

20170714_220740DSCN4008

20170714_224458

                                     

DSCN4017
À votre santé!

 As always, a good time was had by all. The DJ, sometimes a band or more, and the music and dancing go on will into the night. Even the smallest children, barely walking, are out dancing with parents, and grandparents.  The French truly wrote the book on celebrating life. 

Bisous,

Lèa

Camp Joffre: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein

La belle France. Yet even the most beautiful of gardens has both thorns and weeds. The group Eurocultures invited me to visit Camp Rivesaltes otherwise known as Camp Joffre where we would visit a memorial to some of its darker past. A very short distance from the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean, and just the other side of the tracks, lies the remnants of a concentration camp.

For over five years I have tried to share with you some of the beauty in my chosen home. However, this scar must not be glossed over nor forgotten.

 

fullsizeoutput_456cfullsizeoutput_456e

dscn3354

dscn3358
Dedication of museum by Manuel Valls 2015
dscn3361.jpg
Inside the new museum

DSCN3367

DSCN3375
Reisepass

DSCN3377

DSCN3380
La Fuente Family

DSCN3382

DSCN3385

DSCN3387

DSCN3392

DSCN3394

DSCN3397
A starving child 1941
DSCN3398
Tools?

DSCN3402

DSCN3404

DSCN3405
Belongs confiscated along with hopes and dreams…

DSCN3409

Testimony to man’s inhumanity to man.

Though the walls are crumbling and little remains of the buildings, many artifacts are carefully preserved in the new climate protected museum.

Rivesaltes Internment Camp – Camp Joffre opened in 1938 and was not to close its doors until 1970. For nearly five years, I have shared with you the beauty, serenity and the joy of La belle France. Yet this beautiful Country has had much pain, cruelty and suffering inflicted on it and its people. Many of those coming through this camp did not originate in France but may have spent their final days here.

 

Bisous,

Lea

 

Quote page…

Perhaps you have never visited the Quote page? If you have, it may have been awhile. I have just added some new quotes. Some may inspire you. Some may make you angry. Some you may write down for further examination. Regardless, if any of them get you thinking, inspired your creativity, or help you see another side to a situation, then I have done my job. Here are a few to get you started. If you have a favourite, I would love to know. Now please check out what else is there. 

 

“People feel like the system is rigged against them, and here is the painful part, they’re right, the system is rigged.”  Elizabeth Warren

 

“Peace cannot be kept by force; It can only be achieved by understanding.”              Albert Einstein.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H.L. Mencken

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” Thomas Jefferson

 

I hope you have found something that captures your imagination among these examples. Now, please check out what else is new on the Quotes page… 

Bisous,

Léa

PORTES OUVERTES: CAILHAU – Part 1

DSCN2530

Over eight years ago when I was in my early days of the hunt for a house to call home, I briefly visited the village of Cailhau. The house I had been taken to see required more work than I was looking to do but the village seemed to have much to be proud of. However, I should have explored more as there are treasures to behold. The artist community is thriving there and I have finally made it to one of their events. I may have to return soon.

DSCN2537

I followed the path and found the first gallery of my journey. “La Bohème”, While I managed to snap a few photos, it was lunchtime and being France, it was closing until late afternoon. Happily I have a few pieces to show from here. There is much more information available on the artists collective if you visit their blog, artcailhau.blogspot.com or if you are on Facebook you can visit at facebook.com/cailhauartistes  

Artists of Cailhau carry on in the illustrious footsteps of a great artist who lived in the village and whose family still do. The group of artists that reside there are continuing the path of the earliest well known artist from Cailhau. Archille Laugé (1861-1944) moved to Cailhau in his youth with his parents. Despite his father’s wishes that he study Pharmacy in Toulouse in 1878, he followed his heart enrolling at the Beaux-Arts where he met the artist Bourdelle. At Beaux-Arts he came in contact with artists Alexandre Cabanal (1823-1889),  Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921), and Aristide Maillot (1861-1944) and the two were to become lifelong friends. He made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1884 with a depiction of his friend Bourdelle. 

Four years later, he left Paris and returned to Cailhau. He made many friends among the locals. During his time in Paris he adopted the divisionist touch of the Neo-Impressionists under the influence of Georges Seurat (1859-1891), he also had a high regard for the works of both Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) and Paul Signac (1863-1935).

 

DSCN2538
Archille Laughé: Reproduction’s available in Cailhau

Laugé’s paintings and compositions reflect the harsh sunlight so prevalent in the south. Like a number of his contemporaries whose work followed a similar vein, Henri-Edmond Cross ( 1856-1910), Henri Martin (1860-1943) he too was drawn further south continuing to work in and around the area of Collioure.  Collioure, the beachside village that charmed Picasso, van Gogh, Cézanne and many more continues to inspire artists and is a must if you are in the south of France.

In 1894 three of his paintings were exhibited at the Salon des Independants, additionally,  a number of works at an exhibition which included Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Paul Sérusier (1863-1927), Henri de Toulouse -Lautrec (1864-1901) and Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) in Toulouse. There is much more about the artist available online. Today his great-granddaughter continues to live in Cailhau.

DSCN2541
La Bohème Gallérie

 

DSCN2554
Christine D.

Christine’s creations are available at her Atelier/Boutique located in the centre of the village or you can email her directly at christine.daunis@orange.fr Additionally there is the Art Collective site as listed in the beginning of this post.

DSCN2561
Atelier Du Verrier

Bijoux by Matthew/Objet d’art by Matthew 

These pieces were on display at the foyer. However, we shall get to his private gallery but most likely in a later post.

DSCN2573
Vincent Langlard

You can find Vincent on the Art Collective site and at his private site http://www.vlang.net

There is more of his work in a future post.

DSCN2563
Anne de Vylder

More of Anne’s work can be viewed on her site or by visiting Atelier Al Trial.

DSCN2577
Le jardin de Jürgen
DSCN2578
Le jardin de Jürgen
DSCN2588
Les Sculptures de Jürgen
DSCN2591
Les Sculptures de Jürgen
DSCN2592
Les Sculptures de Jürgen
DSCN2602
Le sculpture de Jürgen 
DSCN2605
Le sculpture de Jürgen 
DSCN2586
Le jardin et maison de Jürgen 

While Jürgen Engels passed on in January, his wife has graciously made their garden and some of Jürgen’s work available for us to see. While some of his work is still for sale, I did not find contact information. If you are interested I would contact the collective site or one of the other artists. 

DSCN2607
Atelier Al Trial
DSCN2608
Atelier Al Trial

There is more to see and inspire at Atelier Al Trial in a future post. 

DSCN2612
Mireille Fourmont

You can find Mireille’s work at Atelier Al Trial, on the main website for the collective or her own personal site: http://www.mireillefourmont.fr

Unfortunately, not all artists had contact information available and I was referred to the collective site. I have been on the site a few times trying to identify some of the work. Alas some of the individual sites are temporarily down. Hopefully that will soon be rectified. 

In my experience, these art exhibits have something for everyone. I do hope you found something that appealed to you or perhaps some inspiration?

Bisous,

Léa

Carcassonne and La Cité

Carcassonne will always have a special place in my heart. When I first visited France it was with a backpack, rail-pass with eyes and heart wide open! I was privileged to stay within the fortified cité for a week. That six weeks traveling France went by in a flash. The lovely bridge leads you into the heart of the town and all that lies beyond. Between the ancient fortress and the river Aude are a playground, picnic areas and vast parkland. To the rear are vineyards.

La Cité
La Cité

This ancient Roman town was established around the VIII Century BC, the Carsac oppidum was just two kilometers south of the present city. The town extends over more than twenty hectares on the apex of a plateau protected by both a ditch and the angled entrances. Due to demographic growth it was reorganized around the late VIIth Century. Another ditch was reinforced by levees and palisades of wood and made to protect the new extension. While we don’t know why, the Carsac oppidum was abandoned in the early Vith Century BC then moved to its current resting place on the mound which dominates the Aude plain. Vestiges acquired from archaeological excavations show us that it was occupied from the beginning of the Iron Age up until the Roman conquest. Among the artifacts are drystone walls, grain silos, bronze foundry ovens and pottery. The discovery of the vast number of goods, especially earthenware (amphoras, vases, goblets…) attests to the activities that took place in this colony which was accessible to trading in the region of the Aude and also the Mediterranean basin.

Drawbridge or main entrance
Drawbridge or main entrance

 

A pathway to the side off drawbridge
Drawbridge from the inside
Cité walls left of entrance
Cité walls left of entrance
Un café
Un café
Walking along the central path inside the fortified city
Walking along the central path inside the fortified city
Temptation is everywhere!
Sweets for the sweet!
One of the courtyards inside the walled cité
One of the courtyards inside the walled cité
Souvenirs abound
Souvenirs abound
Off the beaten track
Off the beaten track
One of the many paths you can take
One of the many paths you can take
To the right of the entrance you can see the moat is often dry these days
To the right of the entrance you can see the moat is often dry these days
Below the walled fortress the river forks
Below the walled fortress the river Aude forks

 

This little bridge takes you across the river into the heart of the town. If you look closely you can see some delicate metal arches to walk under.
This little bridge takes you across the river Aude into the heart of the town. If you look closely you can see some delicate metal arches to walk under.
At the bottom you can partially see the local boules club
At the bottom you can partially see the local boules club

The citadel takes its reputation from its 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long double surrounding walls which are interspersed by 52 towers. The town has approximately 2,500 years of history which has seen it inhabited or invaded by Romans, Visigoths, Saracens and of course, the Crusaders. It originated as a Gaulish settlement then in the 3rd century A.D., the Romans began to fortify the town. It was annexed to the kingdom of France in 1247 A.D., and provided a strong French frontier between France and the Crown of Aragon.

After the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, the province of Roussillon was included as part of France and the town no longer had military significance. The town became one of the economic centers of France focusing on the woolen textile industry and the fortifications were abandoned.

The French government decided to demolish the city fortifications in 1849. The local people were strongly opposed. The campaign to preserve the fortress as an historical monument was staunchly aided by the efforts of Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille and Prosper Mérimée, a renowned archaeologist and historian. The government reversed its decision and the restoration work commenced in 1853. The architect, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was charged with renovating the fortress. Viollet-le-Duc’s work received criticism in his lifetime. Claims were made that the restoration was inappropriate for the traditions and climate of the region. Upon his death in 1879, the work continued under the direction of his former pupil, Paul Boeswillwald and later by the architect Nodet.

If you are interested in the area, may I recommend the book Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. Her descriptions of Carcassonne are excellent and her story weaves in and out of the 12th century and modern day.  It was her book that I was reading when I first arrived in Carcassonne.

There are accommodations from four star hotels to the youth hostel within the fortified cité and it can provide an excellent place to stay during a visit. The train station is a short walk away from the centre of town and the airport is nearby. It is not to late to plan a holiday here in the south west of France the summer will be here soon but there are activities here all year around.

Bisous,

Léa