on looking past to . . .
The openings are not found only in small villages in France, perched above the Mediterranean Sea. Go to larger towns such as Nice or Grasse or Monaco where the neighborhoods date to the middle and high middle ages.
The Château Grimaldi—the Musée Picasso—in Antibes dates to the late 1300’s. Buildings from the period of the Medicis can be found in Grasse.
The Prince’s Palace of Monaco was built in the 1190’s.
These towns have buildings and walls that open with arched passages to streets and plazas. Sometimes the openings are not arches; but covered and narrow passages, they lead to other streets and sometimes to another small place, to another unique small neighborhood.
Place des Ficanas, for example, is in Vieil Antibes. “Place” means “square” or “location” or “gathering space.” La Place des Ficanas, it is quite small and similar in size to others in many French villages from the middle ages.
“The word “ficanas” is not found in many dictionaries; it is a part of the local language of Nice. It refers to « des personnes curieuses, qui aiment bien colporter des ragots. Le genre qui se mêle des affaires des autres ». It refers to those who like to gossip about others and meddle in their affairs. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
The arches open up sometimes to much larger plazas. Large market spaces, which are used today for restaurants, or sometimes look onto ports where fisherman moor their boats and pleasure crafts line the docks. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
For Antibes, the arched portals offer a way to move past the walls that guard the old village and into the village itself. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)