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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.)

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on crack art in antibes

Someone in Antibes, France is messing with the cracks in the walls in Vieil Antibes. The walls have chipped paint and some small areas are crumbling and in other sections plaster has fallen away. Someone is turning these into works of art. I think that I know who is creating them.

Some years ago, while wandering through the streets and alleys of old Antibes, I saw small figurine sculptures embedded into the stone walls. It looked like someone had molded putty into figures on the plaster between the stones.

The sculpturing material is strong and permanent; the pieces cannot be removed from the walls without hammer and chisel.

Recently, a new kind of image has appeared on the walls in Vieil Antibes. An artist is showing new ways to look at the crumbling facades and chipped paint and plaster.

The artist looked at the patches on the walls and imagined an image; and with a few deft lines, accentuated with chalk or black paint, and with some smudges here and there, a image appeared. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

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on eating in restos a lot, or is it eating a lot in restos

O my, I must have been hungry? Did I eat, really eat, all that food? O my, my my. Did it all go down the hatch, do some good,and make me happy?

All dishes shown here were eaten at regular restaurants; that is, no Michelin starred restaurants are represented, except for one meal, and that meal is represented with three dishes, the entrée, the main dish, and the dessert. That restaurant was Figuier de Saint-Esprit in Antibes.

I am keeping those dishes a secret, and suggesting, dear reader, that you guess which ones appeared on their menu.

Several of the dishes come from restaurants that are sometimes called the ‘restaurant familial,’ a family-like restaurant with dishes that mother and grandmother would make at home.

These restaurants are some of my favorite places to eat. I will mention Le Brebant near the train station in Juan-les-Pins. Le Pin Parasol near the bus station in Antibes, Le Lisbonne, also in Antibes, and Cafe du Tailleur in Marseille. Oh, I did not mention Le Bistrot du Coin in Antibes, too.

Hmm. Maybe I should mention Lou Pistou and Chez Palmyre and let’s not forget La Merenda, all in Vieux Nice. Oh, I forgot to mention La Storia and La Pergola in Antibes.

These restaurants remind me, in part, of the kind of dishes that the President of the Republique wanted when he hired a personal chef in the film Les Saveurs du Palais, or Haute-Cusine, the English title. He did not want fancy dishes, those elaborate plates with little personality, the decorations and fancy sauces that obscured the natural flavors of the meats, fishes, and vegetables. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

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on catching the light in antibes

If I could only catch the light. That is all I want. In order to do that, I will visit villages in France when the sky is clear, the air pristine, and the sun shines at high noon.

In some villages, along the Mediterranean Sea, for example, it easier because the building walls are not so high. They are fishing villages and may be two or three stories high. Martigues, to the west of Marseille, is a good example and one of my favorites.

The perched villages in France, those with a middle ages provenance, pose the most problems. The walls are high, and more importantly they jut up from narrow streets, more like alleys, and block out the sun.

I want to catch the light because I want to take pictures, and it is that sunlight which provides the light and shadows for taking those photographs. Without the light striking past those walls and into the streets of a village, I will only have a shaded or dark passage.

So, I tend to stay home and not venture far away when the sun does not shine. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

But wait, there’s more!