Letter from France: February 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


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: 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 to the quality  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’s 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
Thirty three 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. Over 200 works are presented in a string of chronological themed sections.
Paris, Centre Pompidou

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 the present day. 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 May 19: an artist’s travels trough Micronesia, the floating universe of Paul Jacoulet

160 remarkable engravings, sketches, watercolours and paintings offer a deep insight into the work of Paul Jacoulet (1896-1960), a French artist who spent  his whole life in Japan and Asia. This exhibition is focused on the works he produced during his journeys to Micronesia.
Paris, Musée du Quai Branly

Until July 14: beloved hair, trophies and trifles
An exhibition dedicated to all aspects of hair and its huge importance in any society through history, as an instrument of beauty and seduction as well as a symbol of power.
Paris, Musée du Quai Branly

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 organised 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 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 by 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 August 4: Felix Ziem ‘I dreamed beauty’, paintings and watercolours

Tireless traveller, Felix Ziem, was one of the most famous watercolour painters of the 19th Century. The exhibition calls to mind all his journeys from Venise to the far Russia, and also the three places where he liked to stay: Barbizon, the Butte Montmartre and Marseille-Martigues.
Paris, Musée du Petit Palais

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 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

Until December 31: Marseille-Provence, 2013 European cultural capital
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


From March 8: the school of Shanghai (1840-1920)
During the 19th Century, armed conflicts shook the Qing Dynasty so hard that many artists, painters and calligraphers chose to flee to Shangai where under the protection of Western armies, they could develop their art. The combination of traditional Chinese visual art with the freedom of drawings and the large use of colour borrowed from the West, opened the door to a new revitalised major Chinese painting which is presented in this remarkable exhibition that includes numerous outstanding loans from the Shangai Museum.
Paris, Musée Cernuschi

From March 13: treasures from Ancient China, ritual bronzes from the Meiyintang collection
For the first time, more than 100 archaic Chinese bronzes of the Meiyintang collection will be presented to public. It’s the most fabulous group of bronzes dating from 2000 to1000 BC, ever brought together by a single private collector. All these pieces of art reveal the extraordinary skill of the Chinese founders using bold designs and stylised patterns.
Paris, Musée Guimet

From March 29: Signac, the colours of water

For the 150th anniversary of Paul Signac’s birth, the Museum of Impressionisms in Giverny manages an exhibition of about 130 paintings by Signac. All his life, Paul Signac was inspired by water sceneries, creating new ‘Impressionist’ techniques including the use of small touch of raw colours. This exhibition is the first of the six main exhibitions of the second Normandy Impressionism Festival.
Giverny, Eure-27, Musée des Impressionismes



Museum Louvre-Lens, the new extension of the Louvre Museum in Lens
Opened in December 2012, 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’ showcases 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 50 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 metre 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, hundreds of the works of this  art nouveau and art deco artist 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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