My May Days in France
All the things I promised to tell you about today got shot to purgatory because for the first time in over two years, I tested positive for Covid-19. So, the big plans to go to Provence on Friday and to Arles on Sunday for Labor Day didn’t materialize, and neither did the taping of a House Hunters International episode this week that had been scheduled for a couple of months. My wardrobe was in the closet ready to go, but I wasn’t.
My Provençal friend, Barb Westfield, went to Arles Sunday morning early without me for the annual Fête des Gardians. She was able to include me on Whatsapp as she watched the parade of Arlesians in costume and on horseback—the beautiful white horses from the Camargue. Missing it was not what I had in mind, but there was no choice, and at least she made me feel as if I was there. We have her to thank for these photos from the event and we vowed to go next year to make up for it.
Organized by the brotherhood of the Gardians in honor of Saint George, their patron saint, the festival takes place on May 1st every year with the parade of the Gardians through the city on their way to the Eglise de la Major to attend mass. In the afternoon, Gardians, Arlesiennes and Mireilles (Arlesian girls) meet at the Arles arena for the Gardian Games where each one will try to prove his courage and skill during different horseback trials.
For me, these last nine days since the first signs of the virus appeared have been spent almost always in bed, with my laptop on a lap tray, surrounded by immune boosting drugs and plenty of liquids. I only left the apartment on a couple of brief occasions—to take a walk to the beach, masked of course (which seemed ridiculous in the open air, but necessary) to take in some sun and surf while parked on “La Chaise Bleue.” My doctor told me that this was the best thing I could do to get well faster.
Yes, staring at the beautiful aqua Mediterranean sea will do wonders for any bad mood. I also love watching what goes on, on the beach. It’s fascinating. A tiny little girl with her parents was intent on cleaning her stroller with a hand wipe…every inch of it. The beach was of no interest to her. I chuckled that at her young age she is already showing signs of OCD! (I saw myself in her need to get it spic and span!) The next day sitting in the same spot there was a large-breasted elderly woman sunbathing topless who was as tan as if it were the end of the season, not the beginning. She was careful to shade her face with a hat, but that was about all that was covered. I wondered what she was thinking.
I was thankful that I was in Nice when I got sick. The sun pours into my apartment and the balcony is a perfect respite for getting sun and fresh air. With everything so close by, friends and colleagues easily offered up their time to bring by food and supplies, and Monoprix delivers within a couple hours, as long as you order 50€ or more of goods. To meet the minimum, I ordered up supplies that I really didn’t need…at least not yet. Now, the cabinets are full and may be for a long time to come!
By the end of the week, I hope to be back in Paris. Fingers crossed.
MEET THE AUTHORS…BACK AFTER A TWO YEAR HIATUS!
After two years of an inability to meet up, you can now join us in the Caribbean atmosphere of La Havane in Nice to meet a group of local authors and discover their books and their stories.
They will talk about their recent works, read a bit from them and answer your questions. You will have an opportunity to purchase their books and get signed copies, but to be sure, you may want to pre-order your copy and bring it with you for your own personal signed copy!
Ella Dyer, author of “Nice in Nice,” is the host, but I will emcee the event and share some of my own experiences.
Don’t miss this special event in Nice! Let us know you’re coming in advance by emailing us
or just register at the door!
Saturday, June 11, 2022
3 to 5:30 p.m.
At La Havane: 32 rue de France, 06000 Nice
Participation is FREE, but we ask that you purchase at least one drink to show the host venue how much we appreciate their hospitality!
THE STRAVINSKY FOUNTAIN GETS A FACELIFT
Everyone loves the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris at the foot of the Centre Pompidou…at least I do! It’s always been one of my favorite spots in the City of Light. This work of art by famous sculptures Niki de Saint-Phalle and Jean Tinguely is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary with a complete restoration.
The 16 famous sculptures are being restored—the hydraulic, mechanical and electrical systems as well as the waterproofing of the basin and the stainless steel bench will also be refurbished—entrusted to specialized conservators-restorers, under the supervision of the Conservation des Oeuvres Civiles et Religieuses. It’s scheduled to be completed by spring of 2023 at the cost of 1.6 million euros!
The Stravinsky Fountain was installed in 1983, a few years after the City of Paris had launched an ambitious commissioning policy in favor of contemporary artistic creation. It was part of a program to create “fountain sculptures.” At the same time, a “water policy,” initiated in 1978, allowed the restoration of 150 Parisian fountains and the creation of 12 new fountains, of which the Stravinsky fountain is the most important. Jacques Chirac, then mayor of Paris, entrusted the realization of the fountain to Jean Tinguely (1925-1991), whose Carnival Fountain he had admired in Basel, and to Niki de Saint-Phalle (1930-2002).
The 16 sculptures consist of seven mobiles by Jean Tinguely, six colored resin figures by Niki de Saint-Phalle and three sculptures created jointly by the two artists. These works of art, imagined on the theme of the ballet The Rites of Spring, pay tribute to the composer Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) whose name the square bears.
Evoking by their movements and the sounds they emit the music of the Russian composer, each of them bears a title that relates in some way to a work of Stravinsky. They are called: The Mermaid, Ragtime, The Clown Hat, The Fox, The Heart, The Diagonal, The Elephant, Life, The Nightingale, The Serpent, Death, The Firebird, The Treble Clef, Love, The Spiral and The Frog.
THE MONTH OF MAY IN FRANCE
For those planning travel to France in May, beware of the many holidays! This is unfortunately not the best time of year to visit France.
This year there are four holidays, three of which are “bank holidays,” starting with May Day, May 1st, Labor Day (yesterday) when there is no public transportation in many cities. The French are vacationing this month because the kids get a two-week break. With the holidays, come long weekends, when they “fait le pont” (bridge from Friday to Monday), so that means things are crowded, too.
Sunday, May 8: Victory in Europe Day
Thursday, May 26: Ascension Day, always on a Thursday—exactly 40 days after Easter Sunday
Sunday, May 29: Mother’s Day
This year’s not as bad as most! But, worth noting!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®