Friday, January 17, 2020

Beauty in France!

I was so blessed to experience a bit of the culture and history of France while teaching fiber art in France last summer! Initially I was excited at the prospect of finally seeing Paris: the architecture, the art, the fashion. But I have to admit, I fell in love with the little villages in the south of France we toured - I guess I really am a country girl at heart! The countryside was not so different from ours, with all the roses and poppies in full bloom. These were allowed to grow in abundance around doorways and up mossy stone walls in the beautiful little villages. We visited Alby, Cordes, Saint CirqLapopie among others. So much gorgeous architecture, with stone buildings, cathedrals and castles that have been there for centuries. We were fortunate to have a chef who was also our tour guide and shared so many stories of the rich culture of the French heritage. I took a ton of pictures - every turn brought a "Kodak moment" - but here are a few of my favorites.
 Beauty in Cordes
 A gorgeous sunset in Penne, this was the village where the castle connected to our lodge was.
 Saint CirqLapopie was an incredible artsy village, well-preserved as it was isolated from the Crusades, it was quite remote and beautiful. Also very hilly!
 This was the effigy of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music, martyred for her religious beliefs. When we visited this chapel, there was soft, sacred music playing in the background, the scene was so moving.
Of course we had to visit the museum of Toulouse Latrec in Alby and see his awesome art!
I even found wool fibers at a local market in one of the villages, my lucky day!

After spending a week of bliss touring the villages of southern France, felting and dyeing textiles, I headed to Paris for a long weekend, and that was so exciting too! I crammed as much art as I could into 3 days, visiting museums and cathedrals, a little shopping, seeing the popular sights like the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, Montmarte, and Arc de Triomphe. Again I took lots of pictures, here are just a few.
 Arc de Triomphe
 Eiffel Tower
Lol you can tell I was getting tired here, last day in France!
 Galerie Lafayette, a huge multi-level store in Paris.
 Oldest church in Paris, exquisite architecture!
A shop up the street from our hotel specializing in Picasso pillows, love!
 My favorite place I visited, the breathtakingly beautiful Sainte-Chapelle.
 Monet's extraordinary art at L'orangerie, awe-inpiring!
The Louvre and adjoining gardens, in full bloom.
My second favorite site I saw in Paris, the Dali museum! I've always thought his art was so strange, this museum had descriptions and explanations beside each piece explaining his symbolism of the melting clocks, crutches, drawers etc. It was so fascinating, I could have spent all day there!
 Lifesize sculpture of woman with drawers representing her "secret mental compartments".
Painting of Madonna and Child from series "The Bible".
 This was one of my favorite sculptures, so playful!

 Hidden face in this closeup of a sky from one of Dali's prints.
The "melting" clock representing the passage of time, and how helpless mankind is to stop or slow it down. Crutch symbolizing our weakness.

The Dali museum was a little off the beaten path in Montmarte...not so with the fabric stores there, that filled the streets! I've never seen so much gorgeous fabric in one place, there was shop after shop of beautiful French fabrics! And they ranged in price from bins of very reasonably priced to couture beaded fabrics draped on mannequins like fantasy gowns. 
 Shopping the fabric bins, have I died and gone to Heaven?
 Artsy fabric galore in this fabric store!
 Fabric stores lined the streets as far as the eye can see! I admit it - I literally destroyed my suitcase trying to get all my "souvenirs" home - much of it from here! :)
 Buttons anyone?
 The lower floor of this fabric shop with mannequins adorned in sparkly beaded fabrics!
 All that shopping makes a girl hungry! Chocolate crepe, cafe creme, desserts...
 ..and of course, macaroons! Every color and flavor, they were everywhere in Paris.
 Paris even has Starbucks! Btw, that white wall in the background? Espresso cups. Everything in France is a veritable work of art it seems. And they have great coffee!
I returned home, glad to be back in familiar territory and language. But I do hope to get back to Europe one of these days, and maybe see the French sites I missed!

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