Sun, Sea, & Green

SUN:

“In an open-topped tour bus, a collector’s car, by Segway, by tram, on foot by boat or by bicycle, there are so many ways to discover Nice and its attractions! Are you having trouble choosing between a classical tour or a chance to get off the beaten tracks, an instructive treasure hunt to discover the history of Nice, a photographic trail accompanied by a professional photographer, a guided tour through some of the city’s most attractive districts with the Heritage Centre, a culinary tour featuring the theme of Niçois cuisine or a custom tour designed especially for you, supervised by a guide?

SEA:

Just imagine… 7 km of beaches bordering the famous Promenade des Anglais! 15 private beaches and 20 public ones in the very heart of the town! Beach restaurants where you can enjoy fish-based dishes, salads or other summertime cuisine with the sound of the waves in the background. Disabled access beaches, children’s games, organised features and entertainment and nautical activities, crystal clear water at just the right temperature …and an amazing view out to sea!   A number of private beaches organize music evenings where you can dance through the night under the stars, with your feet in the water!

GREEN:

As the “green city” of the Mediterranean, Nice is home to more than 100 gardens and some 20 parks with a surface area exceeding 10,000 m2 including the 7-hectare Parc Phoenix, a holder of the “Jardin remarquable” (Remarkable Garden) label. Genuine oases of greenery in the heart of the city, these parks and gardens have been designed to bring man into contact with nature, which can be discovered and admired at any time of year. Already ahead of target in terms of the national ECOPHYTO 2018 Plan, Nice is continuing its efforts to promote sustainable development and has opted for “zero pesticides” to protect biodiversity and the health of its citizens and visitors. Waterfalls, water fun areas and varied tree and shrub varieties await… Enjoy a lungful of fresh air… You’re in Nice!”

See major SUMMER EVENTS HEREKD paperback cover

Source: Nice Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Baccarat Celebrates its 250th Anniversary in Glitter and Glass

By Diane Stamm

To celebrate its 250th anniversary this year, Baccarat, renowned purveyor of crystal to royalty, celebrities, and yes, even just plain folk like us, has mounted a sumptuous exhibition at its headquarters, Maison Baccarat, at 11, place des États-Unis in the Paris 16th. Baccarat. Les 250 ans,which runs through January 24, 2015, presents a retrospective of nearly 250 of the company’s most famous, award-winning, and iconic creations.

The Baccarat brand had auspicious beginnings. At the end of the Hundred Years War, French King Louis XV granted the Bishop of Metz a Royal Warrant to establish a glass-making factory in the village of Baccarat in Lorraine on the banks of the Meurthe River. The factory was to serve as an economic stimulus and to provide employment. The kilns fired up in 1764, and in 1816 the factory began producing crystal.

The company’s prestige and international reputation began with an order for a set of glasses placed by King Louis XVIII following his visit to the factory in 1823. It was Louis XVIII who launched the fashion of the complete glass service in the Russian style, with each glass a distinct size – one each for water, white wine, red wine, and champagne.

The glasses were so admired by fellow crowned heads who dined at his table that they, too, began to order from Baccarat.

The company’s reputation steadily grew, in part thanks to its expert craftsmen, and after Baccarat won all the gold medals for its entries to the Universal Exhibitions at the turn of the 20th century, orders began to flow in from around the world. Today, Baccarat employs twenty-five craftsmen who have won the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best Craftsmen in France – more than any other company in the country.

Baccarat. Les 250 ans presents decorative art at its highest quality. And its most dramatic.

The first section, Foli des Grandeurs, showcases monumental pieces such as the Tsar Nicholas II candelabra, and the Ferrières chair, stool, and pedestal table commissioned by 19th century Maharajas and delivered by elephant to them. The section called Alchemierepresents Water, Earth, Air, and Fire, the four elements essential to the creation of crystal.Au-dela de la Transparence (Beyond Transparency) explores the themes of lightness, refinement, and femininity. The Prestigious Commissions section displays some of the most important commissions from heads of state, such as Emperor Hirohito; royal and imperial courts, such as the Prince of Wales; and celebrities, such as Josephine Baker.

So in demand were Baccarat pieces by certain sovereigns that, for example, Tsar Nicholas II commissioned caravans of crystal pieces carried by mules bound for Russia. Through the 19th century, the Baccarat factory operated a special furnace at full capacity dedicated to the production of crystal for the Russian court.

Baccarat’s best-known pattern is Harcourt, created in 1841 when French King Louis-Philippe commissioned a ceremonial chalice engraved with the royal monogram. With its hexagonal foot and flat facet-cut bowl, its design is now nearly ubiquitous, especially in French cafes and brasseries, but it originated with Baccarat.

In addition to being the headquarters of Baccarat and housing a museum, Maison Baccarat also houses a boutique; an elegant restaurant named the Cristal Room; and a ballroom that comes from a Neapolitan palace decorated with paintings by Francesco Solimera, a disciple of Tiepolo. During the first half of the 20th century the mansion was home to wealthy art patrons Viscountess Marie-Laure de Noailles and her husband, Charles de Noailles, and was the venue for salons that included diplomats, royalty, actors, and artists.

When Baccarat relocated its headquarters to the mansion in 2002, it hired designer Philippe Starck to redecorate the place. His style is pervasive throughout, beginning with the dramatically lighted foyer dominated by mirrors framed in Baccarat’s signature ruby-red crystal, a color produced by heating 24-karat gold powder.

The boutique sells the full range of Baccarat pieces, many of which are displayed on a very long table set for a grand dinner. Also for sale are all sorts of crystal arts de vivre– lamps, panthers, chess sets, decanters, chandeliers, jewelry, and much more. Of particular note is a large, fan-shaped vase with four exquisitely executed galloping horses etched in gold, the dust swirling under their feet.

 

 

You might conclude your visit to Maison Baccarat with a meal at the elegant Cristal Room, overseen by Michelin three-star chef Guy Martin. You will dine off Baccarat crystal and experience a little of the cachet for yourself. And before you leave, be sure to poke your head into the second floor bathroom for a look at one of the most atmospheric rooms – bathroom or otherwise – you’ll ever see.

 

 

Musée Baccarat

11, place des États-Unis, Paris 16th

01 40 22 11 00; 011 33 1 40 22 11 00

Metro: Boissière – Line 6; Iéna – Line 9

Museum hours: Mon and Wed–Sat 10am–6:30p; closed Tues, Sun, and holidays

Entrance fee: 7 euros; reduced fee 5 euros; free for those under 18, for students under 25, the unemployed, and the handicapped

Handicapped accessible

Restaurant

The Cristal Room

Tel:  01 40 22 11 10

Hours: Mon–Sat 12:30pm–2:30pm; 7:30pm–10:30pm; closed Sun

 

Credits: Article & Photos by Diane Stamm

Reblogged from: BonjourParis

Latest Book Reviews

I humbly share this self-promoting post today of the latest two reviews on Amazon for “Solitary Desire.”  A huge MERCI to everyone who has enjoyed reading about my journey – I hope you are inspired to life YOUR authentic life.  (book trailer video below)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved every minute of it, July, 2014
By
Holly  (Colorado springs, CO United States)
This review is from: Solitary Desire (Kindle Edition)
Read this book in 2 hours straight through. Loved every minute of it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Solitary no more, April, 2014

By
Shannon  (Arizona)
This review is from: Solitary Desire (Kindle Edition)
I found this book shared in Kim’s life simply, openly, and warmly. We are invited into her world and share with her the journeys she embarks on in short snippets. The one thing I would like is to hear more! More to the book…or just more books! :) Thanks for the great read!! Inspiring and hopeful.
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My question for you is:  WHAT’S YOUR LIFE DREAM?
(Please share in the comments)

Roussillon in Provence

The ochre paillette of colors & pigments, that make this town one of the most beautiful villages in France, is quite evident from Roussillon‘s flaming colors in its landscape.  As I walked around this lovely village, I took in all the Provençal flavors, from the ochre cliffs to the local landscape, artisanal shops, and restaurants.

My stomach signaled it was time for lunch, so we chose Le Castrum restaurant, located on the beaten path to take in the sights (read:  people watch).  The daily menu was reasonable and provided enough variety lemoncello bee& choices: meat or fish with an entrée (appetizer) and dessert.  After the meal, we were offered a lemoncello by the restaurant – a very nice gesture on their part.  We weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the after-meal digestif , noticing that a yellow jacket was imbibing as well (maybe that’s where bees in Provence get their yellow-stripe color from)!

 

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Personal side note:  The Cafe de l’Ocrier in Roussillon is a tourist trap type place, with horribly rude service – we actually walked out before ordering drinks there!

French Jazz Fans outsmart Hitler

Article written by Margo Lestz (The Curious Rambler)- Reblogged with permission:

France has a special place in its heart for jazz and in the summer, you’ll find jazz festivals all over the country. In fact, the world’s first international jazz festival was held in Nice, France in 1948. But France’s relationship with this music started some 30 years earlier during the World War I and developed under some interesting circumstances during the Nazi Occupation of World War II.

Jazz comes to France

During World War I, African-American soldiers introduced France to jazz. After the war, this lively new sound was the perfect accompaniment to les années folles, or “the crazy years”, when all art forms were changing and tastes turned to the unconventional and exotic. This new African-American music made people feel alive again, just what was needed after the horrors of the First World War.

Miles Davis statue – Negresco hotel in Nice.  Photo by Margo Lestz

Miles Davis statue – Negresco hotel in Nice. Photo by Margo Lestz

Hot Club

Jazz was especially appreciated by the young and in the early 1930s, a group of Parisian students formed a jazz club. At first they just met to listen to the music, but later they became ambassadors of this new sound. The Hot Club de France quickly grew into an important organisation working to promote jazz in France. Hugues Panassié was president and Charles Delaunay secretary, but in 1936 Louis Armstrong was elected Honorary President of the club and held that title until his death in 1971.

French Jazz

With the help of the Hot Club, jazz took root in post-war France. Although they appreciated the American jazz groups, the Hot Club was on the lookout for French talent. They “discovered” guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli who, along with others, became known as the Hot Club Quintet, the first “all French” jazz band.

Jazz during the occupation

When the Second World War was declared, most of the African American jazz musicians left France and the French bands were worried. Hitler wasn’t a jazz fan. He considered it a tool of the Jews and detrimental to society.

But, Hitler was more tolerant in France than in other countries. He wanted to remain on good terms with the French and use their resources for his war effort. He also planned to make Paris a recreation centre for his troops so he encouraged the entertainment industry there. Foreign tunes were absolutely forbidden but he allowed traditional music, thinking his propaganda would be better accepted if it was broadcast along with popular songs.

“Frenchified” jazz

The Hot Club took advantage of this situation and set about creating a “French history” for jazz, proclaiming it a traditional French form of music. They held conferences explaining how jazz was directly inspired by Debussy, an influential French composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and circulated flyers detailing this invented pedigree.

They wrote books to convince Hitler and the Vichy regime of the merits of French jazz. One music critic published a book explaining how it was intrinsically French and how it could become the new European music under the Nazi regime. Hugues Panassié, president of the Hot Club, published a book addressing the Vichy regime’s argument that jazz couldn’t carry a patriotic message. In his book he claimed that jazz had simply been misunderstood and he scattered biblical passages and political quotes throughout to make it sound convincing.

louis_armstrong_aquarium_04Louis Armstrong disguised as a French man (photo: The Curious Rambler)

It’s not swing, it’s jazz

Music experts pointed out that the jazz musicians of the time were all French (the American musicians had left at the start of the war) and they made “adjustments” to make jazz seem more French. At the time the music was called “swing” in France so they started calling it “jazz” which sounded less American.

It’s not blues, it’s tristesse

The titles of songs were changed to French: “St. Louis Blues” became “Tristesse de St. Louis” and “I Got Rhythm” became “Agate Rhythm”. The names of composers were either left off or changed. Louis Armstrong’s songs were credited to Jean Sablon during that time. When they had finished, jazz looked as French as baguettes and brie. Their efforts paid off when the Nazis banned subversive “American swing” but permitted traditional “French jazz”. Of course, it was the same music, just cleverly repackaged.

Jazz and the Resistance

Hot Club members weren’t just defying the Nazis with music, many of them were active members of the Resistance. They used jazz concerts and conferences as cover to pass information to England. In 1943 the Hot Club headquarters in Paris was raided and some of its officials were arrested. Delaunay, Hot Club secretary, was released after one month, but several of the others perished in Nazi concentration camps.

However, jazz survived and kept the French company during the occupation. And when the war was over, France remained faithful to the music that, by that time, really had become woven into French culture.

Click on the video below to see Louis Armstrong learning a song in French with Claudine Panassié, daughter-in-law of Hugues Panassié, president of the Hot Club and director of the 1948 Nice Jazz Festival. It was filmed in 1969 at Armstrong’s home in Corona, New York.

History of the Nice Jazz Festival:

1948 – Nice hosted the first international jazz festival in the world. Louis Armstrong was the headliner and performances were in the opera house and the municipal casino (which once stood in Place Massena).

1972-1973 – The next jazz festival in Nice took place 23 years later. The performances were held in the garden Albert I.

1974 – The Nice jazz festival returned under the name, Grande Parade du Jazz. Musicians played on three stages in the open spaces of the garden of Cimiez. The Nice jazz festival has continued since 1974.

1994 – The name was changed to Nice Jazz Festival.

2011 – The festival moved back into the centre of town and to the garden Albert I where two stages welcome multiple performers each evening.

Lourmarin in Provence

A recent trip to the Luberon included a stop in Lourmarin, a charming town to stroll, shop, and café hop, not to mention the final resting place for the French philosopher, Albert Camus.

According to France Today, “Camus’ first visit to the region, in 1937, was brief but in 1946 he came from Paris with three fellow writer friends and actually stayed with them at the Château, in Spartan rooms set far apart which felt spooky at night, his at the bottom of the tower. Armed with the carefree camaraderie and joie de vivre of youth, Camus loved Lourmarin – witness his letter of 1947 to his friend and poet, René Char, who hailed from nearby L’Ile-sur-la- Sorgue:  “The region in France that I prefer is yours, more precisely the foot of the Luberon… Lourmarin, etc.”  Camus was just 46 on January 4, 1960, when he died near Sens in a car crash on his way to Paris– snatched midlife, as if to stage an ironical metaphor of the absurdity of life which was central to his philosophical preoccupations.”

 “L’absurde naît de la confrontation de l’appel humain avec le silence déraisonnable du monde.” 

(“The absurd is the product of a collision or confrontation between our human desire for order, meaning, and purpose in life and the blank, indifferent “silence of the universe.”) 

 Camus gravesite Camus headstone

 

Strolling through the town, I  witnessed le football fever for “Les Bleus” before a World Cup match, saw many amusing store front novelties, including an American song lyric sung by Jimmy Hendrix, and passed lovely fountains….all in a picturesque backdrop in the heart of Provence.

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Fontvieille in Provence

Our friends had already booked the hotel, so we followed suit and arrived early to take a look around the lovely setting at Hotel Val Majour in Fontvieille.  I hadn’t heard of this small town in Provence, but it certainly seemed centrally located to all the major sites – one of our friends was born in Cadenet, knew the area well, and so, did the booking.  The three-star hotel and pool settings were tranquil and beautiful, the staff was very friendly, the breakfast buffet top notch, and the bar service excellent.

Val Majour Hotel

 

Hotel map

signFor dinner, the receptionist recommended a couple restaurants (with one in particular) situated in the town’s main square, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel.  So, off we went and found the #1 recommendation, “La Cuisine au Planet,” with its inviting terrace.  We luckily got the last tables for our group, as they started telling arriving customers to come back around 9:30p.m.

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And boy, did we get lucky!!  The meal was fantastic, service was impeccable and friendly, and the prices were reasonable – we ate, drank, chatted and laughed throughout the evening – happy to have to walk back to the hotel, since we were so full from the three-course menu – what a lovely, delicious evening!

 

 

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