The French Riviera – The Welge Report

 

Hello Fellow Travelers:

Welcome to our world of adventure, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for The French Riviera”.

Please share it with your friends, customers and associates. You can also access this information on our blog plus lots of other helpful travel tips at:  thewelgereport.com/blog/index.php

Recognition:  We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides.  In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.

 

The French Riviera

 

Transportation: You need to rent a car for this  journey.

Shopping: There are  many treasures in the hills and seaside here including pottery, art, house wares, furnishings and more for our home. We will mention them as we tell you our suggestions for your journey.

Business Information: Here is help in regard to your business: (http://riviera.angloinfo.com/af/31/french-riviera-business-services.html)

Exchange Rates (http://www.x-rates.com/)

U.S. Embassy: (http://marseille.usconsulate.gov/nice.html)

 

Day One: Dee and I have visited this area many times and stayed in several places. By far our favorite place is the La Colombe d’Or in St. Paul de Vence.

This mural by Leger is in Colombe’s outdoor dining area where breakfast and lunch are served. From St. Paul de Vence it’s easy to access the many interesting places.

 

Vence is a good place to start to see the The Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence, often referred to as the Matisse Chapel or the Vence Chapel, M, W, Sa: 2-5:30, Tu, Th: 10-11:30 AM, 2-5:30 PM, 466 Avenue Henri Matisse, Vence, 33 4 93 58 03 26

The Rosaire Chapel, conceived by Henri Matisse, remains a sacred art monument.  From 1948 to 1951 Matisse drew up the plans for the chapel and all the details of its decoration: stain glass windows, ceramics, stalls, stoup, cult objects, priestly ornaments…

It was the first time that a painter designed every detail of a monument, from the architecture to the furniture.

The first stone of the chapel was laid in 1949. The inauguration and consecration of Notre Dame of Rosaire took place in 1951.

For Henry Matisse “this work required me 4 years of an exclusive and untiring effort, and it is the fruit of my whole working life. In spite of all its imperfections I consider it as my masterpiece”.

 

Vence is a town of artists with painters, sculptors and writers of many nationalities living and working here. The town is full of galleries and other examples of their work, with sculptures, decorated buildings and frequent (summertime) outdoor exhibits.

The 12th-century troubadour Pierre Vidal called Vence “le doux repaire” (the sweet nest), and in the 13th century, Dante Alighieri included Romeo de Villeneuve, Lord of Vence, in his Paradise.

Other famous painters who worked in Vence include Dufy, Soutine, Matisse, Chagall and Dubuffet. Nostradamus had this to say: “Garden of Vence, marvel of Provence”

Vence has been a market town for centuries, and the core of the food market is along the very narrow rue du Marché inside the walls.

Flowers, fish, honey, bakeries, endless variety of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices all add their colors and fragrances to the feeling of the markets.

I bought a wonderful beret at the shop shown above. We have also purchased several watercolors in Vence.

 

Just down the road from Vence is Tourrettes-sur-Loup – The Grand Rue passes through most of the vieux village, a side street goes out through the arched passage of the Portail Neuf, and descends along a stone-paved path down the rocky spine below the village.

It’s a nice walk and a nice view of forested hills to the sea, the old railway viaduct (and the remains of a broken viaduct), and looking back up towards the village, of the deep river gorge of the Cassan.

Tourrettes-sur-Loup is well renowned for its arts and crafts such as weaving, painting, pottery, jewelry and sculptures all of which are created in the village by the residents.

There are forty artisans all of whom live in the village that group together and contribute to the economy of the population.

We have purchased several beautiful water pitchers from one of Tourrettes artisans.

 

Lunch today is in Vence at Les Agapes – L & D: Tu-Sa, 4 Place Clemenceau, 33 4 93 58 50 64

We suggest starting with the zucchini, goat cheese and fig salad dressed with hazelnut oil and aged vinegar or their tomato gazpacho with Serrano ham, mozzarella chips seasoned with Espalette.

For the main course order the sea bream filet served with roasted cherry tomatoes, a chick pea pancake and tapenade or the crispy lamb with dried apricots, mint, zucchini filled with ratatouille, sautéed arugula and a thyme and honey dressing.

The ’11 Rimauresq rose would go well with either.

 

After lunch let’s visit the Fondation Maeght – Oct-June: 10-6, July-Sept: 10-7, 623, chemin des Gardettes, St. Paul de Vence, 33 (0)4 93 32 81 63

Painters and sculptors collaborated closely in the realization of this Foundation with Catalan architect Luís Sert by creating monumental works integrated into the building and gardens.

The Giacometti courtyard, one of the world’s most famous ‘in-situ’ works, the Miró labyrinth filled with sculptures and ceramics, the mural mosaics by Chagall and Tal-Coat, the pool and stained glass window by Braque, and the Bury fountainare a few of the contributors.

The Maeght Foundation contains one of the most important collections in Europe, with paintings, sculptures, drawings and graphic works of modern art from the 20th century by Bonnard, Braque, Calder, Chagall, Chillida, Giacometti, Léger, Miró, Ubac and contemporary artists Adami, Calzolari, Caro, Del Re, Dietman, Kelly, Mitchell, Monory, Oh Sufan, Takis and Tàpies.

Visual overload has now taken control, but we have an anecdote. Its name is cold beer, and the activity is watching the petanque players at the cafe just outside the walls of St. Paul. When we first starting visiting here Yves Montand was a regular player as was the owner of La Colombe.

 

Dinner is in Nice at Le Bistro Gourmand – L & D: M,Tu,Th-Sa, 3 rue Desboutin, 04 92 14 55 55

For your starter we suggest the zucchini and mussel soup or the raviolis with prawns. Follow this with the guinea hen with parmesan gnocchi and spinach stuffing or the roasted cod napped with sesame, coconut and tarragon sauce.

For dessert they have a wonderful hazelnut biscuit with creamy caramel. The ’12 Château Minuty is a good fit.

 

Day Two: Breakfast is at Colombe in the outside dining area that over looks the valley on one side and the Leger mural on the other. A table cloth and napkins are carefully placed after you choose your table and the seat cushions arranged.

A newspaper is available. Coffee is brought along with croissants, French bread, butter, several choices of Hero jams unless you want something else on the menu. This is when you plan your day.

 

Today your first outing is to see the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild – Daily: 10-6, July, August till 7, Nov 2 – Feb 16: 2-6, 1 Avenue Ephrussi de Rothschild, 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, 33 4 93 01 33 09

If you’re here for the first time, you will tour the house and the gardens. If it’s your 10th visit you will probably just do the gardens which change with the seasons.

Beatrice de Rothschild built her rose-colored villa on a promontory on the isthmus of Cap Ferrat over looking the Mediterranean

The Baroness filled the mansion with antique furniture, paintings, sculptures, objets d’art, and assembled an extensive collection of porcelain.

The gardens were conceived in the form of a ship to be viewed from the loggia of the house, which was like the bridge of a vessel, with the sea visible on all sides.

It was inspired by a voyage she made on the liner Île de France, and the villa was given that name. The thirty gardeners who maintained the garden were dressed as sailors, with berets with red pom poms.

In 1934 when Béatrice Ephrussi died she left her property to the Institut de France. Louis Marchand was commissioned with restoring the Villa grounds. He decided to level the ground, to bring the ornamental ponds back to life and to create themed gardens. If you’re into horticulture do not miss this.

Drive a little farther along the sea and you can visit Monaco. In 1972 when Dee and I were here we had a chance sighting of Princess Grace and her two children as they swished by us in their big car. We have returned several times.

 

Here we suggest visiting the Japanese Garden – Daily: 9-5, Avenue Princesse Grace, 377 98 98 83 36

The Japanese Garden with its mountain, hill, waterfall, beach and brook is an authentic work of art created by respecting the strictest principles of the Zen concept of compactness.

Nearby are the Casino Gardens and Terraces in the French style garden of lawns complete with magnificent fountains.

We have seen excellent sculpture exhibitions here among them several of Seward Johnson’s works. With lady luck you may also.

 

Let’s have lunch al fresco at the Café de Paris – Daily: 8 AM – 2 AM, Place du Casino, 98 06 76 23 / 24

The salade niçoise is our suggestion with lettuce, tomatoes, celery, green pepper, tuna, cucumber, anchovies, hard boiled egg and olives.

It’s primarily an Italian menu with a wide range of choices. This is a premiere people watching opportunity. We have celebrated Dee’s birthday here more than once.

A Kir Royal is the right choice here.

 

Back to Nice to see the Marc Chagall Museum – Nov-April: W – M: 10-5, Mar – Oct: W – M: 10-6, Avenue du Docteur Ménard, 33 (0) 4 93 53 87 20

Since the museum’s creation its collections and their development have naturally moved with the times.

They initially comprised Chagall’s donations in 1972 including that of the Biblical Message in 1966 as well as all of his preparatory work and a whole host of other works.

In total, more than 250 works made up this 1972 donation. Chagall kept on adding to the collections until his death by entrusting copies of his illustrated books when they were published or new illustrations.

 

Next stop is the Matisse Museum – 164, av. des Arènes de Cimiez, 33) (0)4 93 81 08 08

Here are paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, paper cut-outs and illustrated books bequeathed by Matisse and his heirs plus loans form the State. They make up a collection that is both personal and educational.

In 1987, two very large drawings were presented to the Museum by the State. These were a preliminary charcoal drawing of Saint Dominique for the Chapel at Vence, given by Pierre Matisse and a drawing of the central figure in the Barnes Foundation Dance, donated by Gérard Matisse. This is one of our favorite museums.

On one of our visits there was a special exhibit of line drawings by Matisse and Picasso. It was a very interesting comparison.

 

Dinner is at Bistrot d’Antoine – D: Tu-Sa, 27 rue de la Prefecture, Nice, 33 4 93 85 29 57

The Bistrot is popular because its so good, so make a reservation.  Then start with the olives, the calamari or the mussels.

Choices for your main is difficult, so plan on a return.  We like the risotto with truffles, the grilled tuna with artichokes, tomato and arugula, the pigeon en cocotte and the scallops.

Your wine is the ’10 Chateau de la Liquiere Faugeres and dessert is their peach and frangipane tart.

 

Day Three: See breakfast for day two. It can’t get any better, but don’t linger too long. It a jam packed day.

 

Our first stop today is the town of Vallauris Golf-Juan where there are three important museums: The Ceramics Museum, the National Picasso Museum and the Magnelli Museum (whose work is shown below).

They are located in the castle of Vallauris, former priory of the Abbey of Lérins, which was reconstructed in the 16th century.

The real reason for this stop is the shopping. There are lots of well priced ceramics.

 

Next we are off to Biot.  Biot has been a source of pottery since antiquity. The region is rich in fine clays, sand, manganese and even volcanic tufa for making the kilns.

Biot is currently renowned for its glass works, typically a clear or colored transparent glass with little bubbles.

We have two pieces from the glass blower Claude Navarro, who gave us a tour and exhibition at his studio. He is this region’s answer to America’s Chilhuly.

Biot is also the home of the Museum Fernand-Leger – May-Oct: Daily: 10-6, Nov-April: 10-5, 316 Chemin de Val de Pome, Biot, 04 92 91 50 30

With a career spanning over 50 years, Fernand Léger (French, 1881–1955) worked with a multitude of media, such as paint, ceramic, print, large-scale murals, film, theater and dance sets, glass, and book arts.

In his effort to have his works seen by the common man, he temporarily installed several of the Builders paintings in the canteen at the Renault factory near Paris.

The Fernand Leger Museum in Biot has more than 300 pieces of art. It is by far the largest collection of Fernand Leger paintings in the world. The displays in this museum are lively and colorful art that is very distinctive and second to none.

 

Time for lunch at Bijou Plage – L & D: Daily in Juan les Pin, Blvd du Littoral, 04 93 61 39 07

We love their fish soup with aioli and croutons for a starter. For the main we suggest the bouillabaisse (they have a small portion) or the Saint Peter filet with a tapenade dressing.

The ’10 Domaine Longdepaquit Chablis will do it.

 

Back to Antibes for some shopping in the old market area and a visit to the Musee Picasso – Tu-Su: 10-12, 2-6, Place Mariejol, Antibes, 33 4 92 90 54 20

Chateau Grimaldi became “Picasso Museum” on December 27, 1966. Picasso stayed here from mid-September to mid-November 1946 where he produced a great deal of work and donated 23 paintings and 44 drawings to the town of Antibes.

From 1952 onwards many donations and purchases, including donations from Jacqueline Picasso in 1991, have greatly enriched the Picasso collection in the museum.

Works by Nicolas de Stael, Hans Hartung, Anna-Eva Bergman and important artists of the 20th century are also on display.

A remarkable collection of sculpture by Germaine Richier and work by Miro, Bernard Pagès and Anne and Patrick Poirier is on permanent view on the terrace.

 

Dinner is at L’Armoise, 2, rue de la Tourraque, Antibes, 04 92 94 96 13

Wonderful things come in small packages, and L’Armoise certainly qualifies on both accounts. For a starter order the asparagus, quail eggs, peas, beetroot and black radishes in a red pepper sauce.

Then go for the risotto with baby celery, carrots, and a filet of yellow Pollack served with zucchini and cucumbers napped in a tomato sauce or the grilled scallops with white beans, green onions and tomatoes.

For dessert they have a puff pastry filled with raspberries that is served with sherbet and a strawberry, anisette and ginger sauce. Enjoy the Chablis Domaine Longdepaquit 2010 with this special meal.

 

Until next time, best wishes and safe travels,

Dick & Dee Welge

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