Letter from France: January 2013

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Whether you’re a novice or seasoned traveller, France will steal your heart. Each month, Frederic – our French correspondent – gives us the low-down on what to see and do across the channel


Marseille-Provence,  2013 European Cultural Capital
After an official opening weekend, January 12 and 13, as European Cultural Capital, Marseille presents the first artistic events of a long series hosted not only by Marseille but also by Aix-en-Provence – the old city well known for its beautiful buildings and for the sweetness of its art-de-vivre. Hundreds of cultural and artistic events, theatre, street arts, music, exhibitions, are scheduled all along the year, including the exceptional creation of a new French national museum, the MUCEM, of which the opening date is expected for 1 June.
Marseille, Bouches-du Rhône-13


Until January 27: Nigeria, Arts from Benoue Valley

The Quai Branly Museum hosts the first exhaustive exhibition of African artworks selected on a local geographical basis, the Benoue Valley in Nigeria, a valley sheltering various tribes. About 150 pieces are exposed in their local context and this presentation shows the differences and in the same time highlights all the interconnections about art vision between tribes.
Paris, Musée du Quai Branly

Until January 27: From Red River to Mekong, Visions of Vietnam
After 1850 Vietnam with its luxuriant natural resources, its monuments and its various populations attracted many French artists and soon saw the creation of arts schools where Vietnamese artists came to learn European art techniques. This exhibition is a testimony to the fusion between two civilisations, with the Vietnamese vision of French artists, and the interpretation of their own culture by Vietnamese painters.
Paris, Musée Cernuschi

Until January 28: Edward Hopper at the Grand Palais
Gathering more than half of Edward Hopper’s paintings, the Grand Palais presents the hugest exhibition ever done of this American artist known to be the archetype of figurative painter, but who meanwhile was using a sort of abstraction in his more realistic works of art. His work is a strict description of the new American way of life, but includes also a part of criticism of the inhumanity of modern times.
Paris, Musée du Grand Palais

Until February10: Canaletto in Venice
A major exhibition of the Venice famous painter, Canaletto with 50 paintings and also with his famous sketchbook from about 1731. All pages can now be seen on computers. There is also a Venetian copy of the optical chamber used by Canaletto to make his drawings.
Paris, Musée Maillol

Until April 1: A short story of drawing lines at the Centre Pompidou-Metz
An original point of view of the use of lines in drawings from 1925 to nowadays. A study largely broadens to the lines in our world, in our own life, in our writings and in our gesture to write, in landscapes or in our way to move.
Metz, Moselle-57, Centre Pompidou-Metz.

Until July 30: Sol Lewitt, Wall Drawings at Centre Pompidou-Metz
The Centre Pompidou-Metz presents a retrospective, unprecented in Europe, of the American conceptual artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007). 33 black and white wall drawings Sol LeWitt, were recently executed on-site in the Centre Pompidou-Metz by students of art and architecture.
Metz, Moselle-57, Centre Pompidou-Metz.

Until September 16: Red and Gold at the Museum Jean Cocteau in Menton, Alpes Maritimes

To assume the annual turn over of a part of the Cocteau’s artworks displayed in the museum, the new exhibition’s theme choosed is ‘Red and Gold’, a timeliness to discover how Cocteau worked creating a theatre play and to find again all his great actors, Jean Marais, Edith Piaf or Jeanne Moreau.
Menton, Alpes Maritimes-06, Musée Jean Cocteau


Until March 3: Rodin, the Flesh and the Marble
Although the museum is being renovated, the Rodin museum is exhibiting 50 marble sculptures by Rodin which highlight quality of the sculptor’s work, especially his ability to give life to marble bodies.
Paris, Musée Rodin

Until March 17: In the Gallic Times, the Aquitaine before Caesar

Meet the Gaulish tribes of the province of Aquitaine, in South-West France, through an exhibition that recreates the life in Gaul before the Caesar’s time. Hundreds of artefacts found in the last archaeological digs offer a new vision of the Gallic civilisation and testify of the high degree of techniques used by their craftsmen.
Bordeaux, Gironde-33, Musée d’Aquitaine

Until March 17: Van Gogh and Hiroshige
A double exhibition to celebrate the world most famous painter, Vincent Van Gogh, and the well-known Japanese artist Hiroshige. It was Hiroshige who inspired the first of the impressionists. A parallel can be seen between two opposite minds, the sense of general composition of Hiroshige who filled up his landscape paintings with an immense serenity, which was then copied and used by Van Gogh. He then expressed with his tortured mind his feelings that the landscapes of Southern France were sort of an imaginary Japan.
Paris, Pinacothèque 1 and 2

Until March 25: Dali
33 years after the 1979 fabulous Dali’s retrospective that remains the most successful exhibition ever set in this museum, the Centre Pompidou offers a new vision of the work and the life of Salvador Dali, probably one of the main masters in modern art but surely the most eccentric. He was greed, grotesque and genial in the same time. Provocations and controversies were part of his creative mind. Over two hundred works are presented in a string of chronological themed sections.
Paris, Centre Pompidou

Until July 27: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Crossed Beauty in Contemporary Art
Referring to the Jean Cocteau’s eponymous film (1946), Bernard Magrez, owner of four well-known Bordeaux vineyards and founder of the Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute, has organized a confrontation between 30 artworks by various contemporary artists to reflect the duality of Beauty, particularly in the connection that links the artist and his model.
Bordeaux, Gironde – 33, Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez

Until November 2: Roulez Carosses!
A loan from the Palace of Versailles, to the museum of St Vaast Abbey in Arras, shows for the first time the best pieces of French royal and imperial horse-drawn carriages along with numerous artefacts belonging to their use. There are also a few paintings of important events during which these vehicles were used.
Arras, Pas-de-Calais – 59, Musée-Abbaye St Vaast


Museum Louvre-Lens, the new extension of the Louvre Museum in Lens
Opened in December 12, the Louvre-Lens Museum in the city of Lens in the North of France presents in its spectacular glass building a regular turnover of masterpieces in a non-traditional way, mixing artworks from different departments of the Parisian Louvre Museum. The ‘Galerie du Temps’ with its 3000 m2 shows more than 200 masterpieces from Antiquity to the ‘Temps Modernes’ in a panoramic and chronological vision of art through ages. Even the underground storerooms and preservation studios will be open to visitors. Nestled in fifty-acres of green park and closed to the railway station where TGV easily links Lens to Belgium, Germany and UK.
Lens, Pas de Calais-62

Museum Jean Cocteau-Collection Severin Wunderman, in Menton, Alpes Maritimes
The largest in the world and a must see collection of the works of Jean Cocteau. The pieces of work were given to the town of Menton by a private collector Severin Wunderman. Every year the third of the works displayed goes back to the store-rooms, and new ones are presented to public.
Menton, Alpes Maritimes-06, Musée Jean Cocteau

Louvre Museum, New Islamic Arts Department

From September 22, the Louvre Museum opens its new area dedicated to art in Islam. The former Visconti courtyard is now covered by a huge sail shaped glass roof allowing the museum to present in one place 3,000 major Islam art works. This permanent space includes the discovery of an important number of Islamic pieces of art coming from the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des Art de l’Islam.

Alésia MuseoParc, Alise-Sainte-Reine, Côte d’Or
Right in the centre of the battlefield of Alesia that saw the final battle of the Gallic Wars with Julius Caesar’s victory against Vercingetorix, stands the new circular building of the Alesia MuseoParc. Inside, you’ll find lots of interactive explanations, a realistic and astonishing movie of the battle on a seven metres screen, and outside, an amazing life-size reconstruction of the Caesar double fortifications to help visitors to understand one of the biggest battles of Roman times.
Alise-Sainte-Reine, Côte-d’Or-21, MuséoParc d’Alésia

Museum d’Ennery, Paris
Mrs Clemence d’Ennery donated to France in 1894 her fabulous collection of more than 7,000 Chinese and Japanese artworks under strict conditions, one of which was that all of the collection should be exhibited inside her own house which she had designed as a personal orientalist museum. Closed for years for security reasons, the museum recently reopened and provides a look back into a time when the eruption of Far East Asian Art influenced European collectors and artists. (Note: booking in advance is mandatory)
Paris, Musée d’Ennery

Museum Lalique, Wingen-sur-Moser, Alsace
In the small village where over a period of 90 years René Lalique produced a large part of his work, this art nouveau and art deco artist, hundreds of his works are displayed. They highlight his incredible genius not only as probably one of the best glass artists of all time but his work as a jeweller. This very modern museum, hidden on the flank of a small green valley, is a perfect showcase for Lalique’s jewels, perfume bottles, tableware, vases, lights, crystal and drawings.
Wingen-sur Moser, Bas Rhin-67, Alsace, Musée Lalique

Museum Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi, Tarn
Inside the fabulous Palais de la Berbie, the former palace of Bishops of Albi, a UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest collection of pieces of art by Toulouse-Lautrec. It is now being displayed in a new scenography offering a new reading of each facet of the artist’s work, including his works as a youth as well as portraits of Montmartre people and scenes from the world of brothel.
Albi, Tarn-81, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec
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