Thanks for resting your eyeballs here for a moment.(They are resting, right?) If you rest them a little longer, you may learn some interesting,(hopefully)entertaining, and, yes, ocassionally BIZARRE things about FRENCH COUNTRY LIFE(more…)
French Country Travel Life Artist. Monet. Sisley. Pissarro. Francoise Cariou. And, of course, Cezanne.
While all French Artists had a singular contribution to make, Paul Cezanne’s was one of the most unique and significant; in that he was the bridge between Impressionisim and the Post-Impressionists.
So great was his influence on other artists that Picasso and Matisse proclaimed: “Cezanne is the Father of us all.”
My fellow scribbler Anne Elder has an overview of Cezanne’s life, work, and his particular relation to a mountain:
Between 1902 and 1906, Paul Cézanne walked into the north of Aix-en-Provence twice a day, every day. He would walk up the hill to the quiet Terre des Peintres for its stunning vantage point of Gardanne and Montagne Sainte-Victoire, a beacon of Provence and the subject of many of his paintings.
And now, more than a century after his death in 1906, the impressionist painter’s influence can still be found all over the city: from restaurant and school names, to museum exhibitions, and perhaps most noticeably, a gold plaque-marked walking path through the city, highlighting everywhere from where Cézanne lived to where he died.
Whether you are an expat or a Francophile traveler, it’s easy to walk where Cézanne walked through Aix, even unintentionally. But to truly experience his impact on the city, there are four sites you cannot miss.
Begin at Cézanne’s atelier, which can be found just north of Aix-en-Provence. His workshop has been preserved just as it was when he was painting there in his later years. The walls, decorated with skulls, tiny mannequins and fruits, are the same blueish gray that Cézanne himself mixed for optimal light reflection. And the open panel in the wall, where he would push his larger canvases through to examine them in the light, is still open.
From the atelier, follow directly in Cézanne’s footsteps and walk up the hill to the Terrain des Peintres yourself. Today, the platform is enveloped by his paintings of the famous Montagne Sainte-Victoire and Gardanne, all still visible and peeking through the fields of oliviers.
Cézanne was well into his 60s when he made his voyages to the Terrain – 20 minutes from his atelier and 40 from his apartment – lugging easels and paints and canvases to capture the orange tiled roofs, oliviers, and of course, the mountain herself.
Sainte-Victoire is a sort of calling card for Provence. She is visible from the Aix TGV train station and from bus routes spanning nearly to Marseille. At the summit lies la Croix de Provence, a large cross most visible from the north side of the mountain. The mountain is representative of the region, and of Cézanne’s canon.
When Cézanne was alive and painting in Aix, the owner of the Musée Granet said there would never be any of the painter’s work exhibited as long as he was running the museum. Nestled in Aix’s Quartier Mazarin, it now has a room dedicated to ‘le père de l’art moderne‘ (father of modern art), where ten of his canvases are on display.
French Chocolate,French Wine andRoussillon may seem, at first glance a little – shall we say “incongrous?” – But stick with DA BG for a momento or two and it’ll all add up. (at least by my standard of math !)
Roussillon, as we all know, is (justly) famous for it’s orche colored hills. The source of the preferred pigment of that color by artists around the world.
It also produces some wine that is, as an American (or possibly an Armenian) would rate as : “not too shabby.”(somewhere below grand cru, but above the supermarket vins du pays plonck.)
French Chocolate, like French Wine (and French food for that matter) while definitely World renowned, does pose an often challenging gustatory dilema (and aren’t those the best kind ?) That being –which wine to pare with it ? One strong enough to assert some character, but not so over the top that it cancels out all that creamy, tangy choco-goodness.
Well, happily, there is such a wine. One of the many liquid” Treasures ofFrance.” Sadly, I can’t claim the credit for finding it. That kudo goes to my fellow scribbler Nick Passmore….who fills us in on the tasty FrenchChocolate,Wine and Roussillon connection :
Regular dry table wine just doesn’t work because of its acidity, and the sorts of sweet white wines like Sauterne and Tokaj that go so well with fruit desserts don’t have the heft to stand up to chocolate.
But there’s one recent discovery that does – the Singla, Heritage de Temps 2005 from the often overlooked French region of Roussillon. It’s a rare vin doux naturel, VDN, a fortified wine made in a similar way to Port, but using the white grape, Macabeu.
Neutral grape spirit is added to the fermenting wine before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol. The resulting sweet wine is then aged for five years in oak casks giving it its russet color and aromatic flavors.
The result was a revelation and a chocolate-friendly delight. It’s packed with dried fruit flavors like raisins and dates, along with figs, gingerbread, salty butter, candied orange and toffee. It’s oxidized, deliberately, resulting in a piquant, spicy bite on the finish that’s perfect for chocolate.
It performed an harmonious duet with a Moccacino from a great new addition to my neighborhood, the bakery/patisserie Eric Kayser. A chocolate mousse on what I would call a Graham Cracker crust, though no doubt ithas a more melliferous sounding name in French, covered in a shell of milk chocolate and topped with ground hazelnuts.
It was the hazelnuts that did it for me – combined with chocolate they set off the complex, nutty, tangy sweetness of the wine to perfection.
Bicycle Gourmet Tour de France Update 2015 – you know FROMME extended his lead, and IVAN BASSO bailed…so I don’t have to (and I won’t!) repeat what you can find elsewhere whenever you Google “Tour du France 2015.”
What you CAN’T find elsewhere Is DA BG’sTour de Franceupdate…that has nothing to do with the current tour that’s hypnotizing Cycle Sport eyeballs.(and monopolizing print and screen space.)
This is the tour that is not on the radar of the great majority of French Cycling Sport fans. It doesn’t get massive media coverage. In fact, only brief blast in the National French Papers for a day or two. And then, buried next to the classifieds.
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ivan...the most beautiful country in the world! genni graham | 31Aug15 | More
what would frane be without all these bicycle tours? ivan kurdman | 31Aug15 | More
ted..you DID say....and i thnki the majority of us agree with you. sharon marks | 31Aug15 | More
hey people...let's not gang up on joe....everybody's entitled to their opinion...even if the rest of us think it's a little...shall … ted friend | 31Aug15 | More
randy..anyone who says they like da bg, but not food and wine....is just plain nuts! (macro whatever or not!) ted friend | 31Aug15 | More
doris..maybe joe is one of those macro-biotic nuts? randy block | 31Aug15 | More
joe..how can you read a blog about france and NOT be into "food and wine stuff?" doris clemmens | 31Aug15 | More
i generally like your blog..but for me..you're too overboard on all this food and wine stuff. joe fisher | 31Aug15 | More
susie/rena....obviously! tom turner | 27Aug15 | More
susie/tom.....and that's the way i took it too! (so we're all very clever and in agreement obviously!) rena zetner | 27Aug15 | More