Letter from France: April 2015

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions


how the Roman games might have looked

how the Roman games might have looked


May 2 and 3: “Hannibal” The Great Roman Games in Nimes

Once a year, the city of Nimes has a Roman re-enactment of the great Roman games that were held in its famous amphitheatre. This year’s theme shows the Hannibal fight against Rome until the final victory of Scipio at the battle of Zarma. There will be also gladiatorial fights and chariot races.

Nimes, 30-Gard, Roman amphitheatre. www.arenes-nimes.com

May 15-16-17: The Courson’s Plants Days move to Chantilly

For the very first time, the 32nd “Journées des Plantes de Courson”, that famous gathering for  garden lovers, moves to the castle of Chantilly. For three days in the ‘English garden’ of the castle’s park, the best nurseries not only from France but from all over Europe will exhibit plants, trees, flowers and will share advice and experience.

Chantilly, 60-Oise, Chateau de Chantilly    www.domainedechantilly.com/en/plants-day/


Charles de la Fosse

Charles de la Fosse

Until May 24: “Charles de la Fosse, the Triumph of the Colour”

Almost totally forgotten for two centuries, Charles de la Fosse (1636-1716) who began his painter’s career as a student of the great master Charles Le Brun, took part in the creation of beautiful walls and ceilings’ paintings in the royal castles of Versailles and Tuileries. He was also a close friend of Watteau who was inspired from de la Fosse’s technique of drawing with the use of black stone, red chalk and white highlights. He played a pioneering role for the 18th century’s painters.

Versailles, 78-Yvelines, Chateau de Versailles      www.chateauversailles.fr

Until May 24: “Slums of the Baroque: the Rome of Vice and Misery”

The Museum of Petit-Palais exhibits around 70 paintings by dozen seventeenth century artists from Pieter Van Laer, the first of the Bamboccianti, to Claude Lorrain which, together, show the real life of the people in Rome.  The exhibition dives into the slums of the city, a world of taverns and hell-holes where wine, gambling meet misery and vice. This is about as far removed from the pomp and the ideal vision of the official painting of the ‘Seicento’!

Paris, Musée du Petit Palais         www.petitpalais.paris.fr

Until May 31: “David Bowie is …”

After the incredible success of the David Bowie’s exhibition in London, it moved to Paris to be the first exhibition at the ‘Philharmonie de Paris’ the new concert hall that was officially opened a few weeks ago, despite the fact that the building is still under construction! Here you’ll find around 300 pieces belonging to David Bowie’s private collection.

Paris, la Philharmonie de Paris       www.philharmoniedeparis.fr



Until June 21: In Klimt’s time, the Secession in Vienna

In the early years of the 20th Century in Vienna, Gustav Klimt was one of the most important artists who gave life to the ‘Secession‘ the impressive Viennese Art Nouveau movement. In parallel with a selection of his main works  including the iconic “Judith I”, this exhibition presents numerous works by other members and friends of the Secession as Egon Schiele or Oskar Kokoshka. A copy of the huge and tremendous Klimt’s “Frise Beethoven” is also presented, 34 metres long and two metres high.

Paris, Pinacothèque      www.pinacotheque.com

Until June 25: Race to the End of the World

This exhibition accurately brings back to life the preparations of the Norwegian and British teams who dramatically raced for the South Pole in the years 1911-1912.

The visitor follows the two teams, step by step to the victory of Roald Amundsen and sadly to the dramatic end of Captain Robert Scott and his whole crew, who remain in history as the South Pole heroes.

Lyon, 69-Rhône, Musée des Confluences     www.museedesconfluences.fr

Until July 5: Body-Care, the Birth of Intimacy

For the very first time, a museum gathers works by the main artists from the 16th Century to present just one subject, the representation of a woman taking care of her body. Works by Durer, Primatice, Georges de la Tour, Manet, Degas and Toulouse Lautrec as well as more contemporary artists show the evolution of body-care during the last few centuries with the arrival of new ideas about hygiene and health.

Paris, Musée Marmottan       www.marmottan.fr



Until July 13:  Velasquez

This exhibition shows the genius of Velasquez, 1599-1660, presenting a large panorama of his career, from his first works to his last masterpieces. He quickly became the painter of the royal court of Spain and soon developed a great reputation as a portrait master. He is still one of the world’s most famous artists and was considered as a role model by the Impressionists, Manet calling him ‘the Painter of painters’.

Paris, Grand Palais      www.grandpalais.fr

Until July 19: “Degas, an impressionist painter?”

The Musée des Impressionnismes in Giverny, that famous Monet village in Normandy, exhibits sixty works of Degas and uses them to query whether he was an impressionist. Other Impressionists concentrated on landscapes whereas Degas largely worked on indoor scenes and people. Some of the paintings on view have been loaned by the Musée d’Orsay.

Giverny, 27-Eure, Musée des Impressionismes     www.mdig.fr

The TudorsUntil July 19: The Tudors

This is an amazing exhibition of beautiful large portraits of the Tudors and of the main protagonists of their time, many of whom were executed. What is seen here is a brilliant survey of the dynasty that changed the face of the English kingdom. The final part of the exhibition shows how the extraordinary lives of the Tudors and the bloody dramas that took place during their reigns, inspired the Romanticism of French writers.

Paris, Musée du Luxembourg     www.museeduluxembourg.fr

Until July 19: “Pierre Bonnard, painter of Arcadia”

The Orsay Museum presents a retrospective exhibition of Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947, whose works, characters as well landscapes, were based on an Arcadian ideal. Inspired by the magic light and bright colours of southeast France, he worked on large-scale landscape paintings, but he also remains famous for his intimate portraits of women and for his way to introduce some mystery into common life scenes.

Paris, Musée d’Orsay     www.musee-orsay.fr

Until July 27: The Treasures of Emile Guimet

Emile Guimet, a great humanist and captain of industry from Lyon, collected countless art pieces from antique civilisations, mainly from Asia and Egypt, throughout his life. With so much he was able to create two museums in Paris and Lyon which, in his words, would provide culture and knowledge to the ‘proletarian people.‘ This inaugural exhibition of the new Museum of Confluences in Lyon gathers together the most prestigious pieces of Emile Guimet’s collections that, previously, had to be split between some of the most famous French museums.

Lyon, 69-Rhône, Musée des Confluences     www.museedesconfluences.fr

De Gaulle

De Gaulle

Until July 27: “Churchill – De Gaulle”

50 years after Churchill’s death, the Army Museum presents this exhibition showing the special links between Churchill and De Gaulle. Sometimes friends and sometimes foes, they both thought first of their country but managed to work together and remain forever the two greatest European leaders fighting for freedom against the Nazis during WWII.

Paris, Les Invalides, Musée de l’Armée   www.musee-armee.fr

Until September 13: “Pressionism, the masterpieces of Graffiti on Canvas”

The term ‘Pressionism‘ is a tribute to the use of the spray paint in Street Art since the seventies. This exhibition shows how the main artists of this underground movement began to work on canvas. With the exception of Basquiat and Keith Haring the public has of largely ignored their works and probably doesn’t even know many even their names. Now such artists like Ramemellzee who died in 2010, Bando or Futura begin to be known by private collectors and few modern art galleries.

Paris, la Pinacothèque de Paris    www.pinacotheque.com

Until September 27: Albert André,” Intimacy of a Realist Painter”

Friend of Vuillard, Valloton, Monet and especially close to Auguste Renoir, Albert André is one of those great painters who are not very well known by the public. This exhibition presents a great number of his paintings showing the strong links between work, family, friends and artists of his time.

Montbeliard, 25-Doubs, Musée du Chateau des Ducs de Wurstemberg  www.monbeliard.fr

Until October 18: “Tattoo-makers, Tattooed”

An exhibition that explores the predominantly unknown universe of tattooing with more than 300 pieces showing tattooing through different ages and countries and concentrating on two main aspects, beauty in body-art and the symbols of a societal membership.

Paris, Musée du Quai Branly   www.quaibranly.fr

Felix Arnaudin

Felix Arnaudin

Until October 31: “Felix Arnaudin, le Guetteur Melancolique” (the Melancholic Watchman)

Born in 1844, Felix Arnaudin fell in love with the Landes ‘region of France. He soon became a great amateur photographer  and he tried, throughout his life, to create ‘images as real as possible’ of this part of France that could immortalize people, country farms, landscape as well as scenes from everyday life.

Bordeaux, 33-Gironde, Musée d’Aquitaine    www.muses-aquitaine-bordeaux.fr

Until November 2: “Salt Mines”

In the beautiful site of the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans, a photographic exhibition is dedicated to the contemporary workers who extracted salt all around the world. Catherine Gaudin and Seydou Touré, the two photographers-travellers, present beautiful images and portraits of salt workers from far away countries as Bolivia, Peru, Vietnam, India, China, or Ethiopia.  More than 160 photos are on show, each with an explanatory note by the authors.

Arc-et-Senans, 25-Doubs, Salines Royales d’Arc-et-Senans      www.salineroyale.com


the cave of Pont d'Arc

the cave of Pont d’Arc


The Cave of Pont-d’Arc (la Grotte Chauvet)

Opening officially on  April 25, this huge replica of the astonishing Chauvet cave, the world’s greatest replica of a painted cave will attract visitors in the tens of thousands. They will walk on iron gangways through the 3.000 square metres of the replica cave that reveal incredible prehistoric paintings of beautiful animals. Darkness, silence, humidity, temperature and even smell are recreated to offer to the visitor the impressive sensation to enter into the original Chauvet Cave.

Vallon Pont-d’Arc, 07-Ardéche, Caverne du Pont-d’Arc



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