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Eze, France & Apricale, Italy

Eze, France & Apricale, Italy

I again took to the shores of the Mediterranean for an off season adventure on the Cote d'Azur. I again stayed in Menton and spent considerable time soaking in the sun and taking in the views of the bay of Menton. This was my 5th trip to this area of France but my first renting a car (train strikes!) so I took advantage of that rental to visit some farther out of the way locations then normal:

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La Turbie

Not particularly far from Menton, but kind of complicated to get to via public transportation, I had wanted to take a peek at the Trophie of the Alps built during the time of Caesar Augustus to mark . Hard to get a glimpse of up the Trophie without paying the entrance fee - easy to get a glimpse of from slightly out of town approaching. There were wonderful views down to Monaco and across towards Italy. 

Tête de Chien (Dog's Head)

Just outside of La Turbie we drove to the area known as Tête de Chien  (Dog's Head) which is what the rocky spot high above Monaco looks like from below. Once again amazing views back toward Nice

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Next stop the little town of Eze. I have passed this town several times on public buses in earlier trips to the area, the bus would stop, tons of people would try to get on, they couldn't and some would be left behind to repeat the experience on the next bus. So I had never stopped. The guidebooks all say stop, its so charming and walkable and must visit so we checked it out. It was fine - a LOT of climbing, really crowded, for my money on small hill towns in the areas I have to go with Sainte-Agnès, but the views from the exotic garden at the top of the town were quite stunning.


The town next door - we explored the fantastic walking path along the sea - wow. 

San Remo Italy harbor

San Remo

Taking advantage of the car we drove into Italy several times. The farthest east we drove was the beach town of San Remo, on a rather unbeachy day. I was impressed with the fishing fleet.


I visited on the famous Friday market day, but also on a quiet Tuesday afternoon, when the character of the town is much different, quiet and laid back.

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Ligurian Villages - Dolceaqua, Apricale, Pigna, Castel Vittorio, Isolabona

I did a lightning round of small villages in the Nervia Valley in far western Liguria. Dolceaqua is the most famous (famous for its bridge) it was jam packed with tourists and buses so we did a drive through of town and moved on to Isolabona, up the narrow road to Apricale, backtracked and then headed up to Pigna and Castel Vittorio. My favorite: Apricale.


Monaco Grand Prix

One last place I visited that was not out of the way, but was quite the special occasion, was Monaco for the Grand Prix. Well not quite the Grand Prix itself, tickets were insane, but I went on Saturday, for F1 Qualifying and the F2 Race and feel that I got my full taste of Formula One and the glitz of the Grand Prix. FYI I was in section Z1 which I highly recommend - 2nd cheapest ticket price, general admission but I easily got a seat, in the shade, right next to the track with a good view of a straightaway and turn. 

bay of menton france at night

Another beautiful and relaxing trip to the Cote d'Azur‎! Hopeful it will generate lots of drawing and painting ideas. 

Menton, France & Ventimiglia, Italy

Menton, France & Ventimiglia, Italy

I've been to the French Riviera before several times, zipping up and down the coast to visit museums and tourist spots. This time, I decided to mix it up, and hang out for a laid back week on my balcony in the town of Menton, the pearl of France, famous for its lemons, and the last coastal town in France before the Italian border.

Beautiful sunshine, warm weather, great views and truly delicious meals.

I went to the next town over, Ventimiglia, which is in Italy for their famous outdoor market. Great lunch, good deals and a truly beautiful cappuccino. 

Menton, like much of the Riviera, is right on the water with steep mountains behinds (and very curvy roads). I decided to make my way into the mountains to the little town of Sainte-Agnes. 

Back on the ground in Menton, I visited some of its famous gardens.

I had the chance to do a lot of sketching and drawing while I was in Menton as well...

Which turned into some huge paintings

Paris, France

Paris, France

 Perhaps this is obvious, but Paris is awesome! It seems that is a city done the way a city should be done. The food was always perfect, everyone you looked there was beautiful architecture and well groomed gardens. One of my favorite things is wandering the streets and stopping everytime I see something worth drawing (which means I don't get very far!)

Part 2: Paris in paint

Interpretations based on my sketches, some done while I was in France, some back in the States. 

Marnay-sur-Seine, France

Marnay-sur-Seine, France

This is the location of CAMAC, (Centre d'Art Marnay Art Centre)  an artist residence I was lucky enough to get to spend a sunny June living at. This tiny community in western France has only a few hundred people living in it (no restaurants or even a bakery, all bread delivered by van each morning) and is on the Seine River in the middle of beaufiful fields and farmland. 

My usual routine was to spend much of my days outside. I got to know the best paths around town and through the fields, I rode my bike to nearby towns such at Villenauxe-la-Grande, Barbuise, Villeneuve and to the nearest major town with a train station, post office and grocery store Nogent-sur-Seine (I was also pretty obsessed with it's nuclear power plant.) I sketched everywhere I went.

Then in the evenings, after our wonderful communal dinners, I would translate what I had seen and sketched into paintings. 

Provins, France

Provins, France

Provins, is known as a town of medieval fairs & fortifications in northeast France and I was lucky enough to visit during a real renaissance festival. Now I've been to a few Ren fairs here in the US, usually in a random field someplace, but experiencing all the fun pageantry of a festival within the actual medieval walls of a city dating back to the middle ages was so amazing. People got really into it, in costume, in amazing crafts and products, and delicious food!

Nice, France

Nice, France

I love Nice! I have now visited this city on three separate trips and it is always beautiful and fantastic. Wonderful art, sunshine, sea, great food, love the flower market - if I could move anywhere I would move here.  I love the Matisse and Marc Chagall museums, the flower market and two of my favorite restaurants ever - Le Festival de la Moule for wonderful bottomless mussels and L'Ovale for the best duck cassoulet I've ever had.  It's also been a very inspiring city for my art!

Cote D'Azur, France

Cote D'Azur, France

Three visits to the French Riviera and I've covered a lot of territory. Nice and Monaco, naturally (some gambling at Monte Carlo) but also Menton and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to the west of Nice, and St Paul de Vence, Cannes, Antibes, Le Cannet and Cagnes sur Mer to the west. 

I visited the homes and museums of many of my favorite artists including: Matisse, Renoir, Picasso, Cocteau, Chagall and Bonnard. 

painted by me, the view from the Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild

painted by me, the view from the Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild

Arles, France

Arles, France

Arles in the south of France is where Vincent set off to establish the "Studio of the South" It is the home of the famous yellow house (bombed in WWII and now a pizza place), the site of many famous works and the unsavory ear cutting incident.

I went to Arles specifically to see the places where Vincent worked and the site of some of my many favorite paintings. Much of it is unchanged in the passing years, below are some of my photos from now compared to some of his work back in 1888.