The French Riviera

Now that we are back in the States, I’m finally getting to our last Olmsted blog.  Luckily, we went out in grand fashion which eased the pain of leaving, finally visiting the Provence region and the French Riviera.  When researching the area to find the best places to see, Bobby came across a whole list of awesome places – Baux de Provence, Arles, Cannes, Nice, Eze and of course, Monaco.

The first stop, Baux de Provence, is home to a unique museum called Carrières de Lumières.  The Carrières was an active white limestone quarry around the turn of the 20th century.  It was built for the large-scale stone production need in the Saint-Rémy area and a nearby chateau.  In 1935, the quarry closed.  However, the Carrières was given new life in the 1960s when Jean Cocteau decided to film “The Testament of Orpheus”.   The transformation continued in the 1970s, when Joseph Svoboda, a famous scenographer, decided the large, smooth rock walls would be the perfect backdrop for sound and light shows.  The museum now shows famous artwork from around the world, combining the visual part of the show with custom complementary music.

Klimt show at the Carrières de Lumières

Klimt show at the Carrières de Lumières

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A shot of the limestone quarry before the show started

This season, The Carrières is showing the work of Gustav Klimt, one of the most famous Austrian painters to this day.  He was a symbolist painter (most often showing the female form) and one of the leaders of the Vienna Secession movement.

The beginning of the Klimt show

The beginning of the Klimt show

Amazing transformation of space

Amazing transformation of space

The "museum" now looks like a large building

“Carpeted” floors

Beautiful color change

Beautiful color change

Love the red poppies

Love the red poppies

One of the few works not showing organic forms

One of the few works not showing organic forms

Amazing.

Amazing.

The most "museum-like" part of the show

The most “museum-like” part of the show

Klimt is blue.

Klimt is blue.

This is one of my favorites.

This is one of my favorites.

My parents had just recently visited southern France and gave us a list of their favorite places.  One of those, Arles, is a popular tourist town for its large Roman amphitheater, so we decided to make a quick stop on our way to the coast.  Built in 90AD, the arena can seat 20,000 spectators.  Today, it is used for bull fights as well as plays and concerts in the summer.

Roman amphitheater in Arles

Roman amphitheater in Arles

The arena has been partially restored

The arena has been partially restored

You can see the old on the left and new on the right.

You can see the old on the left and new on the right.

New meets old.

New meets old.

One of these is not like the others

One of these is not like the others

Our French Riviera part of the trip started in Cannes, a popular attraction for its film festival once a year.  I must say, I was expecting an over-the-top city with well dressed stars walking the boardwalk.  I understand that was probably a skewed assumption from the start, but I was a little disappointed in general.  Don’t get me wrong – it is pretty, but it wasn’t any nicer or more beautiful than any other coastal city.

View of the Cannes tower sitting above the bay.

View of the Cannes tower sitting above the bay.

The Cannes waterfront

The Cannes waterfront

Walking up to the viewpoint above the city, we passed several murals based on their most famous tourist attraction – the film industry.

Film mural

Film mural

Bull fighter mural

He was really large.

Nice was probably our favorite city along the French coast.  It’s not surprising that it has been an English aristocratic resort town since the 1700s and attracts over 4 million visitors a year.  Bobby and I kept commenting that we would love to do our second Olmsted experience (ha!) in Nice.  Once of the nicest parts of city was a new park (opened in October 2013) called the Promenade du Paillon.  It’s 1.2 km long and is in the heart of Nice’s central district.  It was a beautiful, sunny day on our visit, so we weren’t surprised to see thousands of people out and about.

Arc di 115°5 by Bernard Venet

Arc di 115°5 by Bernard Venet

Stitched Panorama

Entrance into the new park with interesting statues on poles (unfortunately they attract a lot of birds)

These statues are lit at night

These statues are lit at night

The park was filled with kids and big kids alike.  On a warm summer day, it’s not surprising that this turns into a public splash pad.  When the fountains die down, it’s also an awesome reflection pool.

This does look like some awesome fun

This does look like some awesome fun

We should have brought our bathing suits

We should have brought our bathing suits

Being silly

Being silly (in double)

More cool reflections

More cool reflections

There was also a series of wooden animal kids play areas

There was also a series of wooden animal kids’ play areas

I spy with my little eye....a Bobby. Do you?

I spy with my little eye….a Bobby. Do you?

We climbed the hill overlooking the city and had a fantastic view

We climbed the hill overlooking the city and had a fantastic view

On the way back down, there was a beautiful cemetery lined with this colorful ivy

On the way back down, there was a beautiful cemetery lined with this colorful ivy

:)

:)

Eze served as our second-to-last stop on the week-long French trip (and in our Olmsted journey).  It was a quick stop, as we had to drive home the same day, but we paid to enter the cactus garden just for the breathtaking view.  I think it’ll be hard to one-up this.

Map of Eze, which sits high above the Med

Map of Eze, which sits high above the Med

Entrance to the cactus garden

Entrance to the cactus garden

Check out that view!

Check out that view!

The 180 view

The 180 view

And one more for good measure.

And one more for good measure (with a couple of boats in the background)

My favorite grouping of cacti

My favorite grouping of cacti

Our very last stop was in one of the richest and smallest countries in the world – Monaco.  We drove down into Montecarlo, saw lots of really nice cars, some well dressed people, a ginormous casino, and took a parting shot.

Montecarlo, Monaco

Montecarlo, Monaco

 

Comments

  1. What a wonderful collection of pictures, thank you so much. Incredible, in Provence…
    This spring I experienced the Michel-Ange, Léonard de Vinci, Raphaël. Les géants de la Renaissance display at the Carrières de Lumières. Such a moving experience. There was also a little snip of a Jules Verne … Under the Sea … film after that was so unique.

    Thanks for sharing this collection — looks like a life well-lived on your travels!