Saturday 18 February 2012

Photos - Nice - Cote d'Azur

The Promenade des Anglais was paid for by the wealthy English Aristocracy who spent their winters here from 1860 onwards, when the first railway came to these parts. Since then, people have traveled by train to find the sun, especially in winter.

I love the Côte d'Azur in early Spring. Who could resist the incredible transparent turquoise and inky indigo Mediterranean that greets you all the way along the Promenade? Certainly not me! It gently crashes against the beach making soft foamy waves. 

No wonder people just sit and stare, rest a while and contemplate life's conundrums.

Miles and miles of strolling at any time of the day or night. Walking the dog, cycling, roller-skating or jogging. It is alive and vibrant all day long, you can watch the world go by or join in the adventure.

 Or wander off into the old town - Le Vieux and make your way through ancient streets, where the houses are painted with the colours of the earth - raw sienna, ochres, oxide and viridian. This is where the sunlight catches hold of both the beautiful and the mundane in passing, bringing life and a certain joie de vivre to everything in it's path.

      If you are out very early and I do mean early, 6am would be the best time, then you can see, feel, smell and experience the hustle and bustle of the Flower Market on the Cours Saleya, people busily setting up their stalls with their produce from miles and miles around, with every possible variety of flower, olive, cheese, soap imaginable to choose from.
The owners of this olive stall had everyone coming over to taste, to laugh and to buy. Such a wonderful selection of olives and sun dried tomatoes and such friendly, happy people, make shopping a true delight, a long way from the rather miserable affair it can be.

Breakfast, coffee or lunch can be taken amidst the flowers. The French really know how to enjoy their food. 

We English have a lot to learn. The French take their time, some even still honour the siesta. I have learned to slow down when I've been wandering and exploring in France and it's a skill I've kept with me. 

I love nothing better than to sit and watch the world go by at a roadside café. The you can slowly meander in and out of the shadows into pools of sunlight and shade, never quite knowing what might be found around the next corner. 

Always remember look up and discover the history carved in stone which is often missed. For example - this phoenix, bird of rebirth and recurring mythology, which never dies but is consumed by fire, only to rises again from the ashes. A mother who plucks her breast to give her life blood to her young. Powerful symbolism indeed.
The phoenix shares her position with the more humble pigeon, though in many ways, just as inspiring. Where would France be without her pigeons? Faithful messengers during the Franco-Prussian war as well as during the Second World War. 

One of the effects of the Nazi occupation of the world's most civilised city was reported in a letter published in 1942 in The Nation. 'All the pigeons of Paris are dead. Some have been eaten, which is natural, but most of them have been condemned to death because they carry messages. When Paris was under siege during the Franco-Prussian war, pigeons carried 95,000 private messages. The very last pigeon to complete its return to Paris was captured in November 1870 by the Prussians and was presented to Prince Frederick Charles. He sent it home to his mother who placed it in The Royal Pigeon Cote. Two years later tired of its exile, it escaped and flew back to Paris.

Walking on I passed a little theatre just as the sun quickly moved out from the cover of clouds to shine for a brief moment through the theatre gates, casting the images of Comedy and Tragedy from the Golden Age of Athens.A little reminder of Plato's Cave, still as relevant today as in our shared past.
 This fish will not be to every body's taste, served in a dish made from its own body but the colours are magically iridescent and one to remember for painting and making jewellery later on. I like to use touches of iridescent medium in my work. Or use it on silver foil and silver leaf - each giving a different and subtle shift in the qualities of light and colour. This fish skin has it all.  To be continued -


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