WILLIAM KLEIN – TOAST OF THE FRENCH RIVIERA THIS SUMMER

Les villes de Moscou, Tokyo et Nice sont les stars de la nouvelle exposition organisée cet été par le Musée de la Photographie Charles Nègre.  Moscow, Tokyo and Nice are the stars of the new exhibition organised this summer by the Musée de la Photographie Charles Nègre.

theatre-photographie-nice

For the public at large, he may not be as famous as the likes of Cartier-Bresson or Robert Capa, yet for his peers, photographer and filmmaker William Klein is nothing short of a living legend, having revolutionized the art of modern photography.

Now, the Niçois have a chance to admire the works of an artist who has been capturing the rough and tumble of daily life for more than 60 years, thanks to the exhibit, Bises de Nice, Moscou et Tokyo, that is currently being held at the Musée de la Photographie Charles Nègre until the 2nd of October.

Born in New York in 1928 to a Jewish family, Klein was introduced to Europe while doing his military service. After his demobilization, he stayed in Paris to take classes at La Sorbone and to study art with Fernand Léger. He started taking pictures of the people and street fashion around the French capital, using strong contrasts and blurred contours to produce brutally honest images that stood in direct contradiction to the aesthetical and technically perfect photographs of the times.

 

Strongly interested in social issues, this “anti-photographer” as he likes to call himself became famous in 1956 with the publication of his first book, “Life is Good and Good for You in New York: Trance Witness Revels which showed the Big Apple bas a booming and vibrant city, but also as a harsh and oppressive metropolis.

This was the beginning of a string of expressive portraits of cities. After Rome in 1958, he went to Moscow between 1959 and 1961 at the height of the Cold War, where he was able to go largely unnoticed to paint a picture of a lively, thriving Moscow at odds with the much greyer image the West liked to portray.

William Klein expo NiceThen it was Tokyo in the early 1960’s, where Klein managed to capture the great mutation of a city that was still teetering between tradition and modernity.

While most of his pictures are black and white prints, the artist also occasionally adds a touch of colour to celebrate life, as was the case when he photographed the Nice carnival in 1984, its centenary year.

But Klein is not just a photographer, he is also a filmmaker and the audience can watch his 2005 movie Messiah, which includes performances of Handel’s oratorio by a gay and lesbian gospel choir, as well as inmates of the Sugarland Prison in Texas, over images of contemporary life.

Throughout his career, William Klein has received many distinctions like the Prix Nadar (1957) and the rank of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres de France (1991), but he remains first and foremost an unconventional artist who likes to take risks and experiment with lots of genres. As he once said: “Sometimes, I’d take shots without aiming to see what happened. I’d rush into crowds—bang!bang!…It must be close to what a fighter feels after jabbing and circling and getting hit, when suddenly there’s an opening, and bang! Right on the button. It’s a fantastic feeling.”

The exhibition, “William Klein: Bises de Nice, Moscou et Tokyo”, runs until 2nd of October, 2017 at the Théâtre de la Photographie et de l’Image, from 10am – 6pm daily (closed Mondays). Admission is free for residents of Nice.

CONTACT DETAILS
Musée de la Photographie Charles Nègre
1, place Pierre Gautier
06300 Nice

Tel: +33 (0)4 97 13 42 20

FROM LOS ANGELES TO ANTIBES, MEET VEGAN CHEF IVY DAI

Entretien avec la restauratrice Ivy Dai. Interview with chef Ivy Dai.

When not writing about food, you can find chef Ivy Dai serving up her delicious plant-based cuisine at Graze Artisan Café, the restaurant she recently launched in Antibes.

To help you get to know Ivy better as well as finding out more about her restaurant and vegan cuisine in general, we had the chance to ask her a few questions.

iny-dai-portrait

Hello Ivy. First of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I understand that you are from Los Angeles but have been traveling a lot over the last few years?

Hello! Yes I am originally from Los Angeles, born and raised. Since I was a little girl I have always had a bit of wanderlust. I first left home and travelled abroad at age 22 to China. It was a huge culture shock, but definitely an adventure and I learned Mandarin in the process. I went back to the States and worked as a food journalist then a producer for ABC News in 2008 before leaving and finally following my dream: attending the Cordon Bleu Culinary School. I completed my externship in Paris at Lenôtre and Hédiard, then headed back to California where I worked at the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton hotels as a pastry chef.

France kept calling me back, and I finally landed an opportunity to help open a gluten free Pâtisserie in Paris in 2012. That was also a big move, and it was really tough adjusting. During my time there I also worked as a French pastry instructor and helped open NeoBento, an organic café in the trendsetting 3rd arrondissement (Le Marais). I also ran my own cooking classes, Dragon Dinners, which I launched in 2008 in California, teaching home cooks how to make authentic Chinese!

My yoga instructor in LA, Sabrina Kappler, worked in yachting and convinced me to come to Antibes and try my hand at yachting. It was tough breaking in at first, despite my experience. I cooked on several yachts for a variety of owners, and found my niche in plant-based and gluten-free fare with an international twist. My clients now seek me out solely for this type of cuisine, mostly in Europe but I recently just returned from Qatar and have worked in Asia.

Essentially, the cuisine you get in my restaurant is what I make for my international clients. I created Graze because I wanted to make tasty wholesome food available to the masses. I thought to myself – how can I take what I do for one person and do that same thing for many. That’s where the concept of Graze was born.

When did you first know that you wanted to become a chef? And a vegan one at that!

I first knew I wanted to be a chef in Mrs. Hilscher’s home economics class in 7th grade. I was 13. I learned to bake. I was always forcing my family to try new weird things. I had a natural skill for it.

At 19 I wanted to be a food writer, which I achieved at the age of 25, then I took the leap and went to culinary school and haven’t looked back since.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?

love feeding people. I love seeing the excitement in people’s faces and their whole being lights up when you cook something just how ‘mom used to make it’, or someone discovers a flavor so new and stupendous, it cracks open their world. Food is a journey of emotions, and a common language that connects people of all backgrounds.

You have recently launched your own restaurant, Graze Artisan Café, in Antibes, can you tell us a little about this new adventure? How would you describe the food you offer?

Opening Graze has been so gratifying, I didn’t except I would gain so much satisfaction and create a new community. The menu and style of service Graze offers has evolved according to the needs of our customers. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Look, I am not against meat. I am not telling anyone that butter is evil and don’t ever eat a hamburger again. In fact I love butter (a huge reason why I moved to France). Being a ‘vegan’ restaurant (I prefer to call it plant-based) becomes quite a political statement. People say but I like meat and I won’t stop eating it. But…do you need to have it at EVERY single meal? What about some curry? A delicious soup? Some dessert? Or a smoothie? There is really a lot of variety to eat!

graze-antibes

I am not against meat, I am for fresh fruits and vegetables. Meat and eggs and dairy products are excellent for health, especially bone broth, but in the modern age it takes a lot of time and money to eat high quality animal protein. And even then eating grass-fed is actually worse for the environment…one cow then eats so much more plants than a grain-fed cow.

I tell some of my customers who say why don’t you serve meat..I tell them if you go hunt and kill an animal and bring it to me, I will cook it. Or you can eat as much as cake, cookies, and pizzas as you want – just make it yourself. Hunting and baking are time-consuming, and foods that we rarely ate before the industrialization of food. Now you can have a burger anytime – but if you are only eating meat and wheat, there’s not much room for a vegetable. When you eliminate meat, you are forced to cook, then you naturally eat better.

dish-graze-antibes

But I also know it is a challenge to eat well – there’s the shopping, the cooking, the menu planning, the clean up. Here at Graze, we strive to make wholesome food readily available for all of us who are getting busier and busier – and find ourselves eating crisps and an apple for dinner.

And why did you choose Antibes?

The French Riviera is on the exact same latitude line as California. It reminds me of home – the topography, near the beach and also the mountains, the weather, the relaxed attitude. I live in Antibes and chose to open Graze here because we need it. After years of living here, I found it tough to eat well on the go. As well as finding a variety of cuisines. And eating well means feeding your taste buds as well as your body. Enjoying a gastronomic experience is synonymous with being French – and how can a country who does not eat well, be well?

How do you dispel the belief that a vegan diet is bland?

Let’s name a few things that are tasty and just so happen to have no animal products:

– Chips/fries/french fries/pomme frites
– Onion bhajis
– A lot of Indian food
– A lot of Chinese food
– Guacamole
– Hummus
– Smoothies
– Chocolate
– Granola bars

So anyways we serve all this stuff here! Even scrumptious tacos and burgers, vegan pizza, Thai food, you name it. I would say we are more about offering a variety of international cuisine (as America is a large melting pot) than putting lettuce and pasta on a plate and saying bon appetit.

graze-food

Does being vegan help in maintaining a healthy weight?

As I mentioned earlier, when you add more fruits and vegetables in your diet, you automatically cut out a lot of processed food, which is what makes you tired, pack on the pounds, and grab for more sugary drinks, candy bars and fast food. At Graze all our smoothies are only made with 100 percent fresh fruit, desserts are made with unrefined cane sugar, and our dishes are perfect for anyone trying to lose weight or get lean. For example, our Thai Burger has 5 fruits and veggies, chickpeas for protein, and spicy curry paste to burn fat, 200 calories and ZERO fat. And it’s pretty damn tasty too…it’s topped with our coriander ‘aioli’ (made with organic soymilk).

I first tried to become vegan about 10 years ago, and it has been a long and bumpy journey to move to a plant-based diet. I remember the first day I didn’t eat meat or dairy I was crawling to In-N- Out Burger by the end of the day (a popular burger chain in California).

After I experienced severe adrenal fatigue and exhaustion in 2013, my digestion and overall health was shot – and I only craved fruits and vegetables. So that is all I ate for 6 months. I also did a juice fast for 3 days that really opened my eyes in terms of my attitude with food – that I ate to curb anxiety or when I was thirsty – not when I was actually hungry.

Everyone knows fruits and vegetables are good for you. So think about ADDING some color into your diet versus focusing on ELIMINATING meat and dairy. We need those vitamins and minerals to stay strong and healthy and skinny!

graze-pastries

What tip would you give to someone interesting in becoming a vegan?

If you are moving towards a plant based diet, I suggest eating things you like that already have a lot of flavor – like chili, but instead of ground meat, add 3 beans (for 9 complete amino acids). Or try Indian food, or maybe a sweet and sour basil eggplant stirfry. The trick is to keep your taste buds and body satisfied – hot as well as oily food will help keep you grounded as you move to a plant-based diet.

Do you have a culinary specialty?

To the first 25 people who like us on Facebook, I will send a FREE recipe booklet of my favorite recipes from the upcoming Graze cookbook. After liking us, just email usand we will send you your free copy!

My culinary specialties? Pastry (appeared on Food Network’s “Cupcakes Wars”), Chinese, and vegan and gluten-free of course !

taco-graze

And finally, what do you like so much about the French Riviera? Are there any special places you would recommend?

For a list of all my favorite places in Antibes, you can check my site.

New Antibes additions: Mamalu, an amazing family style Italian restaurant by the covered market, The 44, a gastronomic meal in an intimate setting.

Favorite places in the Riviera: Mandelieu-la Napoule, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Chèvre d’Or in Eze, La Réserve (beach) in Nice, and on my yoga mat at Samasthiti Yoga or Azure Yoga in Antibes!

Many thanks to Ivy a for taking the time to answer our question, and we wish her the very best of luck with her new adventure. To find out more about Ivy’s work, you can visit her website and, of course, check out Graze Artisan Café when you happen to be in Antibes.

CONTACT DETAILS
Graze Artisan Café
20, rue des Casemates
06600 ANTIBES

Tel: +33 (0)4 89 82 51 73

All photos courtesy Ivy Dai / Graze Café

VIA FERRATAS OR HOW TO SAFELY EXPLORE THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Entre randonnée et escalade! Between hiking and climbing!

Ever wanted to try outdoor climbing, but didn’t quite feel ready or brave enough to bite the bullet? Well, we might just have the perfect solution for you – Via Ferrata trails!

Italian by origin, the Via Ferrata trails were created to help infantry travel safely through the Dolomites. These “iron roads”, situated on rock faces, are equipped with cables, ladders, steps, grips and bridges, making them the ideal cross between footpath and vertical rock climb. All you will need is a helmet to protect yourself against falling rocks, a harness that clips into the cable safety system as you progress along the trail, as well as some gloves for a firm grip, and appropriate footwear for stability.

This assisted climbing activity is a great way to admire the valley from high above and to experience the wilds in complete safety, but nonetheless it does require hard work and not all the routes are for everyone. So, depending on whether you are a total novice or an experienced climber, here is a short list of the most popular Via Ferratas in the Alpes-Martimes, classified according to their level of difficulty.

Via Ferrata Balma Negra – Roubion (Easy/moderate)

Just 70 km north of Nice in the Mercantour National Park, this relatively short and straightforward Via Ferrata is ideal for beginners. Located on a 40 to 50 metre cliff, the route overlooks the Tinée valley and does not present any difficulties, aside from a 20 m high crossing towards the end.

Time required: 1.5 hours
Max altitude: 1,450 m
Height gain: + 50 m.
Route length: 300 m
Season: April – October

Via Ferrata Les Canyons de Lantosque – Lantosque (Moderate)

With its 5 monkey bridges, 5 suspension bridges, a 100 metre wall and a fun zip line to end the adventure, this Via Ferrata is an all-time favourite among climbers. Its popularity probably has a lot to do with the fact that the route is located in a beautiful canyon and gradually increases in difficulty.

 

Time required: 3 hours
Max altitude: 500 m
Height gain: + 100 m
Route length: 950 m
Season: April – October

Via Ferrata Le Baus de la Frema – La Colmiane (Difficult)

The oldest and most famous Via Ferrata in the Alpes-Maritimes is also one of the most difficult. The route, which leads to the summit of Baus de la Frema, is full of exposed ladder sections, high ropes crossings and vertical slabs, and takes nearly 5 hours to complete.

Time required: 4.5 hours
Max altitude: 2,246 m
Height gain: + 501 m
Route length: 1,600 m
Season: May – October

Via Ferrata L’Escale – Peille (Very difficult)

 

Just a few miles from Monaco and about 30 minutes from Nice, the Escale Via Ferrata is a challenging and physically demanding route that is divided into four sections, each lasting 45 minutes. It provides beautiful views over the village of Peille, but definitely requires some previous climbing experience.

Time required: 2.5 hours
Max altitude: 750 m
Height gain: + 230 m

Route length: 800 m
Season: Year round
.

Via Ferrata Les Hérétiques – Tende (Very difficult)

Probably the most spectacular trail, this Via Ferrata offers a fun 120 m zip-line as well as a wonderful panorama over the Mercantour massif and the mediaeval castle of Chapelle St-Sauveur. This is the reward for overcoming this sporty 1km long route.

Time required: 3.5 hours
Max altitude: 1,338 m
Height gain: + 330 m

Route length: 1,000 m
Season: April – October

5 OF THE BEST – ROOFTOP ESCAPES IN NICE

Les 5 meilleures bars sur les toits à Nice! The 5 best rooftops in Nice!

While you are hard at work or busy basking in the sun during the day, come sunset, there is definitely no better place to spend your evening than a nice rooftop terrace!

The rooftop season is most surely upon us, so why not treat yourself to some jaw-dropping views while sipping a cocktail, sharing a bite with friends and listening to some music.

To help you make up the most of your summer evenings in Nice, here is our pick of our 5 favourite rooftops in the city.

Hôtel Aston La Scala : the Best View in Town

Located just 5 minutes away from the beach and the promenade des Anglais, this four-star hotel is nothing short of an institution in Nice, which its amazing 360 degree panoramic view of the city, from the Colline du Château and its illuminated waterfall to the Old Town and Promenade du Paillon.

Its rooftop is open from June to September, allowing you to enjoy poolside cocktails during the warm summer days, while its swanky terrace bar is open all year round.

aston-terrasse

For a romantic evening at sunset or a lazy afternoon by the pool, this is definitely the place to be! And if you love music, you will enjoy the live music on Thursdays and the DJ nights on Saturdays.

For a similar experience, minus the pool, the nearby Boscolo hotel is also always a safe bet, thanks to its great atmosphere, its incredible views over the Jardins Albert Ier and the Baie des Anges, and its delicious tapas platters and cocktails.

Hôtel Aston La Scala
12, avenue Felix Faure
06000 Nice

Tel: +33 (0)4 92 17 53 00

Boscolo Hotel, B4 Park Nice
12, avenue de Verdun
06000 Nice

Tel: +33 (0)4 93 16 75 92

Le Méridien : Fun under the stars!

As if its location right on the Promenade des Anglais, its beautiful swimming pool and its signature cocktails were not enough, the Méridien Nice is putting on a show this summer with the screening of four iconic movies every Wednesday evening: Goldeneye, Mamma Mia!, Et Dieu créa la femme, and Plein Soleil, which were all shot in the Mediterranean region.

A good excuse to relax under the stars and sip a Lady in Red (a mixture of cranberry juice, jasmin syrup, lemonade, and fresh mint leaves) or an Indigo Splash (a mixture of Bacardi Gold Rum, Blue Curaçao, vanilla liqueur, lime juice, cane sugar syrup).

Le Méridien Nice
1, Promenade des Anglais
06046 Nice

Tel: +33 (0)4 97 03 44 44

Le Radisson Blu : Chill out by the sea

Looking for a sundowner after a day on the beach? Look no further than the Radisson Blu on the Promenade des Anglais. Aside from a magical view over both the blue waters and the nearby mountains, the huge 700 square metre roof terrace, open all year round, boasts a swimming pool and comfortable lounge furniture.

The dining area is not bad either, with a restaurant/bar that offers a Mediterranean cuisine of the highest quality and mouthwatering cocktails.

Away from all the hustle and bustle of the Old Town, there is no better spot to have a pre-dinner aperitif and soak up the late sun in a chilled atmosphere.

Le Radisson Blu
223, Promenade des Anglais
06000 Nice

Tel: +33 (0)4 97 17 71 77

Splendid Hotel & Spa : A lounge over the roofs

With its Fitness Centre, sauna, solar-heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi and bar with panoramic views of the city, the 8th floor of the Splendid Hotel is a little paradise unto itself.

First opened in 1883 for the winter season to target British tourists, the hotel counted among its first clients the King of Wurtemberg whose coat of arms has been transformed into the Splendid’s present logo.

splendid-rooftop

Ideally located on Boulevard Victor Hugo, it is a peaceful location that also knows how to have fun, transforming itself into an outdoor lounge overlooking the roofs of the city, with great food, delicious drinks, and music throughout the summer.

Splendid Hotel & Spa
50, boulevard Victor Hugo
06000 Nice

Tel: +33 (0)4 93 87 02 46

The Monsigny Hotel: The New Kid in Town

For the last few years, the Libération district has been getting trendier by the minute, so it is no surprise it now also has its own rooftop terrace that will give the most famous ones on the Promenade des Anglais a run for their money.

Located on the 7th floor of the hotel, the Monsigny rooftop is probably still one of Nice’s best-kept secrets. Overlooking the Malaussena pedestrian area and the roofs of the city, it offers everything you need to spend a perfect afternoon in the sun, or a relaxed evening with friends. The Jacuzzi is available to all (for just 5€ for hotel clients and 10€ for guests) and the deckchairs are welcoming. With unobtrusive music playing in the background, the selection of tapas and cocktails is as delicious as it is affordable.

monsigny-rooftop

Less touristy maybe, the Monsigny has nonetheless a more authentic feel that most of its counterparts.

The Hotel Monsigny
17, avenue Malaussena, 
06000 Nice

Tel: +33 (0)4 93 88 27 35

All photos courtesy each hotel

 

PUSHING BOUNDARIES WITH PHILIPPE PASQUA IN MONACO

Dernier article en date pour Riviera buzz. Latest article to date for Riviera Buzz.

Local artist and sculptor Philippe Pasqua takes centre-stage in the Musée Océanographique in Monaco this summer with a monumental exhibition.

philippe-pasqua-banner

For the past few years, the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco has been inviting numerous renowned contemporary creators, from Damien Hirst and Huang Yong Ping to Mark Dion and Marc Quinn, to establish a welcome dialogue between poetry and environmental commitment.

This summer is proving to be no different with the display of 12 gigantic custom-made works and sculptures by Grasse-born artist, Philippe Pasqua.

Entitled “Borderline”, this truly monumental exhibition consists of 12 monographic pieces, 7 of which have never been shown in public before, standing alongside the museum’s permanent collection on the square in front of the building and the panoramic terrace perched on the cliff.

Inspired by artists such as Francis Bacon as well as voodoo and fetishes, Pasqua thrives on provoking emotions rather than producing aesthetically pleasing pieces. His images are violent and powerful, always flirting with the notion of limits. They are made with materials that symbolize solidity and strength, such as bronze and onyx, but also eternity and purity, such as marble and silver, to create an œuvre as disturbing as it is fascinating.

Pasqua questions, raises concerns and unsettles his audience, but never leaves them unmoved”, explains Robert Calcagno, the Museum’s director, noting that the artist’s “work provides the ideal trigger for raising awareness about marine and terrestrial life”.

This philosophy is probably best summarized in the work ‘Wheel of Time’, which impresses not only with its dimensions (weighing in at 7 tons, with a diameter of 7 metres and a height of 6 metres), but also by its multiple components (Tyrannosaurus Rex carcasses, rats, an electric chair, a parasol…), representing a time that seems to have stopped.

 

My commitment to protecting the environment is partly tied to my personal journey. As a father of three, I am forced to think of my children and of their future and to be proactive through my art,” Pasqua says of his work. “It seems that we now have reached a breaking point and this fear of rupture was a source of inspiration for the title of the exhibition, Borderline”.

The exhibition, Borderline, runs until the 30th of September; 2017 at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco. The museum is open every day from 9:30 am to 8 pm until the end of August and from 10 am to 7 pm in September. Tickets cost 11 € for adults, 7 € for teenagers aged 13 to 18 and for students with an ID card, and 5 € for children aged 4 to 12.

CONTACT DETAILS
Musée Océanographique
ave. St-Martin
MC 98000 Monaco

Tel : + 377 93 15 36 00

 

Image courtesy Musée Océanographique

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

Bons baisers de Russie! From Russia with love!

When it comes to must-see destinations, one name that always comes to mind is that of beautiful Saint Petersburg.

SB-winter-palace

Nicknamed the Venice of the North or the Paris of the East (depending on your preference), the city, established by Peter the Great in 1703 to replace Moscow as the Tsarist capital, is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, if not the most beautiful.

With its baroque and classical palaces, its numerous canals and bridges, its world-class museums and colourful churches, it is a spellbinding spot worth visiting any time of year. One reason alone to discover the city is the Winter Palace, the former state residence of the Russian emperors and now home to The Hermitage. Famous for its green facade, grandiose staircases and gilded state rooms,  it is well worth the detour. Its collection of more than 3 million works of art and artefact, including gems such as Leonard da Vinci’s Madonna, Caravaggio’s The Lute Player, Claude Monet’s Woman in a Garden, Pablo Picasso’s Absinthe Drinker, and Henri Matisse’s The Dance, could keep you busy for days, maybe even weeks.

The Hermitage is just one among many recommended stops. The nearby Russian Museum, for instance, pays tribute to local artists past and present, while the new Fabergé Museum in the Stuvalov Palace displays more than 4,000 pieces of art, including a dozen or so of the famous Easter Eggs made for the imperial family by legendary Carl Fabergé. They are each individually designed with diamonds, gold, rhinestones and silver, and open up to reveal a surprise within.

sb-peter-and-paul-fortress

Across the Neva, the Peter and Paul Fortress with its imposing bell tower, is one of the main symbols of the city. A former prison for high-ranking or political opponents, it is now the burial vault of the Romanovs. However, the most impressive religious landmarks may just be the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood that dominates Saint Petersburg with its whimsical onion domes. Built on the very spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated, it is decorated with incredibly detailed mosaics created by the most important Russian artists of the time.

Cruising the city’s canals is always a pleasant experience, except maybe when the temperatures drop below zero, which can happen even in May, but strolling down Nevsky Prospekt, Saint Petersburg’s main avenue, is probably the best way to appreciate the sumptuous architecture. And if one wants to venture out into the countryside, Peterhof, the Romanov’s answer to Versailles, proves to be a fascinating place with its palace, Grand Cascade, dozens of water-spouting gilded statues, and royal gardens.

SB-peterhof-statues

Centuries after Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy, Saint Petersburg definitely remains Russia’s most progressive metropolis and a cultural hub with a European vibe. Meanwhile, just four hours away by train, Moscow is by contrast as Russian as can be.

Welcome to Москва́

Full of contradictions, the political and economic capital is a huge city filled with historical landmarks standing alongside modern architecture, marked both by the Tsarist regime and its many decades under communist rule, at the same time unruly and business-driven. It certainly will not leave you feeling indifferent!

Moscou-red-square

Any visit should of course start with the (in)famous Red Square. Located right in the heart of the city on the site of the old market place, it has been the focal point over the years for military parades, concerts, or just hanging out with friends. Originally meaning beautiful in old Russian, the place is now only referred as the Red Square, despite not being a square…or red!

Its most notable site is, without doubt, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the ultimate architectural symbol of Russia which, with its colourful cupolas, domes and towers, seems straight out of a fairy tale.

Moscou-basils

Another church on the square, that of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan is worth a visit, just for the golden icon above the door. Not far from there, the State Historical Museum built during the 19th century, holds interesting exhibitions year-round, while the ceiling of its parade hall has the family tree of Russian tsars painted on it.

History buffs will probably want to stop by the Mausoleum where Lenin is frozen for eternity, but shopping addicts may just prefer to spend some time in the impressive GUM Department store to check some of the 200 upscale boutiques and have lunch at the Soviet-style cantine Stolovaya N10.

Another not-to-be-missed landmark is, of course, the Kremlin, the grandiose fortress that over its 800 year history has successively been the residence of the tsars, the communist leaders, and now the President. A self-contained village within the city, it includes the Presidential Palace along with many beautiful cathedrals, the Tsar Bell (the Broken Bell), the Tsar Cannon, a spacious garden, as well as the wonderful Kremlin’s Armoury museum and its vast collection of State Regalia, coronation dresses, carriages, Russian gold and silver artwork, Fabergé eggs, and ambassadorial gifts from all over the world.

moscow-metro

There is a wealth of fascinating buildings in Moscow, from the Bolshoi Theatre to the old headquarters of the KGB, but it may be underground that the city is at its most beautiful. Opened in May, the city’s metro is indeed a real art museum with its chandeliers, marble, mosaics and statutes that will blow you away.

Aeroflot offers direct flights from Nice to Moscow on a daily basis, and every day but Tuesday to Saint Petersburg.

SIMONE VEIL PASSES AGED 89

«Puisse son exemple inspirer longtemps nos compatriotes, qui y trouveront le meilleur de la France» – Emmanuel Macron . “ May her example inspire our fellow citizens, as the best of what France can achieve” – Emmanuel Macron.

Simone Weil

Nice-born political icon and Auschwitz survivor, Simone Veil, most definitely represented “the best of France” throughout her life.

Very few politicians can command support and admiration across the political spectrum. This, however, was the case with Simone Veil, France’s universally loved and respected former health minister who has just passed away at age 89.

Expressing his condolences, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “May her example inspire our fellow citizens, as the best of what France can achieve”, while his predecessor Francois Hollande said she “embodied dignity, courage and moral rectitude.”

Veil’s life and political career were admirable in many ways. In her autobiography, A Life, which was released in France in 2008 and the following year in the UK, she recounted all aspects of this extraordinary destiny that saw her successively become a survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, a mother of three boys, a health minister, an abortion pioneer, the first president of the directly elected European Parliament, and a member of France’s Constitutional Council, before being enthroned in 2010 as one of the French immortals, becoming only the sixth woman in 375 years to join the Académie Française (the French Academy).

Simone weil-2

Veil’s nomination to the prestigious French Academy which is the organization that regulates the French language and whose members are nicknamed “eternals” after the inscription on the seal of the academy “to immortality”, was a beautiful conclusion to a remarkable life.

Born Simone Jacob in Nice, she was arrested in the streets of her hometown on 29th March 1944, the day after taking her baccalaureat examinations and nearly two months before D-Day, and was sent to Auschwitz with most of her family. She and a sister survived, but her father, mother and brother never came back from the death camps.

Upon her return to France, Veil married another secular French Jew, Antoine Veil, a diplomat, civil servant and senior aviation executive, and went on to become a judge. In 1974, she became Minister for Health (1974 – 1979) under President Giscard d’Estaing, where she successively fought to legalize abortion.

She later served as the first President of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1982 before returning to domestic government as Minister for Social Affairs, in Jacques Chirac’s government from 1993 to 1995. Three years later, Simone Veil was appointed to the Constitutional Council, an institution principally tasked with ensuring the constitutionality of French law. She also presided over the Foundation for the Memory of Shoah and provided multiple patronages all throughout the country.

simone-veil

No less than three French presidents, Nicolas Sarkozy, Jacques Chirac and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, all political allies, attended her induction ceremony to the Académie Française, which was broadcast live on French television.

Wearing a green uniform designed by Karl Lagerfeld and a sword engraved with her Auschwitz camp number, 78651, which was still tattooed on her wrist, Weil declared in her inaugural speech: ” I think of my mother every day, two-thirds of a century after she died in the hell of the Bergen-Belsen camp,” (…) “And it is also my father, who was deported and died in the Baltic countries, who is with me here.”

BEN L’ONCLE SOUL BRINGS SINATRA TO NICE

Septembre à Nice promet d’être soul! September in Nice promises to be soul!

Often described as the French Amy Winehouse, soul sensation Ben l’Oncle Soul is back with a third album, ‘Under My Skin’, a tribute to the legendary crooner, Frank Sinatra.

under-my-skin-ben

Ben l’Oncle Soul will be in Nice this autumn for what should be a concert full of life! A great opportunity to see live an artist who has been making a big splash the world over in the last few years, with his eclectic brand of sound and his original look based on hats, bow ties and colourful jackets!

With a stage name that pays tribute to the fictitious elderly gent who serves as the brand image of Uncle Ben’s Rice, and music that is clearly influenced by American music of the 50’s and the 60’s, from the likes of Otis Redding and Ray Charles to Sam Cooke and Al Green, the young artist is as French as can be. Born Benjamin Duterde in 1984 in Tours in the Loire valley, he fell into soul music at a very young age, thanks to his mother who was immersed in that universe.

After graduating from art school, Ben, as he was then known to his friends, joined a gospel choir, the Fitiavana Gospel choir, which released an album in 2009 entitled ‘I Have a Dream’, featuring covers of soul classics such as ‘Killing me Softly‘.

Soon thereafter, the young man was signed by the French division of Motown Records and for his debut album, the eponymous Ben l’Oncle Soul, he chose to sing in both English and French. The album was a mix of original material and some covers, including his major hit, the soul version of the White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’,while his second offering, “A coup de rêves’, saw him team up with San Francisco-based psychedelic soul band Monophonics.

For his latest effort, which was released in late 2016, the French singer has reworked some of the greatest standards popularised by Ol’ Blue Eyes with a touch of reggae, soul, jazz and blues. With the help of both Matthieu Joly (Neïmo) and Benjamin ‘Waxx’ Heikimian (Naosol & The Waxx Blend) and thanks to his powerful voice, he has managed to give a new life to an extremely polished repertoire.

The thing which touched me most in Sinatra’s work, is the lyrics”, the soul artist says. “I wanted to give these jewels a new jewellery box, to create bridges between genres and periods.”

Ben l’Oncle Soul plays at the Théâtre Lino Ventura in Nice on Thursday, the 21st of September, 2017 at 8:30 pm. Tickets cost from €15,80 to €20,80 and can be bought at all the usual outlets or reserved online.

SPIRIT OF DIOR VERY MUCH ALIVE IN GRASSE THIS SUMMER

L’expo à ne pas manquer cet été à Grasse. The not-to-be missed exhibition this summer in Grasse.

The International Perfume Museum in Grasse is celebrating the fashion designer’s love for the South of France with a summer exhibition entitled “Esprit de Parfums”.

esprit-de-parfums-poster

Just a year after the renovation of the Château de la Colle Noire, the provencal holiday residence of Christian Dior, “Esprit de Parfums” is an exhibition that highlights the artist’s life, but also his most famous olfactory creations.

Located near Grasse, the splendid property, set on several hundred hectares, is where the French couturier found the inspiration to craft some of his most famous fragrances.

Close to the land, a stone’s throw away from my vineyards and jasmine, I always feel comforted”. – Christian Dior

But Dior’s love affair with the French Riviera started well before his purchase of the 12,900 square foot château in 1950, his “haven of peace”. As early as 1934, his recently widowed father decided to leave Granville, in Normandy, and move with his daughter Catherine and governess to Callian, in the Var. The young Christian who was already living in Paris at the time, regularly went to stay with them, even taking refuge in the family home in the early 1940’s. After the war, he often visited his sister who had become a flower trader, working as an intermediary selling flowers grown in the South of France to the rest of the country.

It was thus natural that the designer chose to base his first fragrance, Miss Dior, on rose and jasmine. That was in 1947, and the perfume became an immediate success. But the fascination for the region did not stop there. Following in the footsteps of Paul Vacher, Dior worked with a string of Grasse’s perfumers to concoct some of his best fragrances. These included the self-styled ‘perfumer/composer’ Edmond Roudnitska, who created Diorama, Eau Fraîche, Diorissimo and Eau Sauvage, and Edouard Fléchier, the man behind Poison. The region has always been central to Christian Dior scents – even nowadays,  the official perfumer and fragrance designer for the Maison Dior is Grasse-born François Demachy, who has held the position since 2006.

The exhibition, which runs until the 1st of October 2017, serves as an opportunity to display the museum’s large collection of bottles and posters, as well as some masterpieces belonging to the Maison Dior, and pieces on loan from both public institutions and private establishments. Meanwhile, videos and interactive terminals provide an historical context which call on all the five senses.

The Musée International de la Parfumerie is open every day from 10 am to 7 pm, and the entrance fee is €6

CONTACT DETAILS
Musée International de la Parfumerie
2, boulevard du Jeu de Ballon
06130 Grasse

Tel: +33 4 97 05 58 00

 

BEAUTIFUL BRATISLAVA MAKES FOR THE PERFECT WEEKEND GETAWAY

Oubliez Prague, Bratislava est la nouvelle destination pour un week-end parfait en Europe. Forget Prague, Bratislava is the new destination for a perfect weekend in Europe.

Castle

Sandwiched between Budapest and Vienna, and just a stone’s throw from Prague, it is very easy to overlook Bratislava, capital of Slovakia.

Since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993 which saw the country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, it seems like the former has received the lion’s share of world attention and tourism. But the Slovakian capital of Bratislava definitely possesses both an old-fashioned charm and an interesting history that makes it the perfect destination for a weekend getaway.

Spanning both banks of the Danube, the city which was once known as Pressburg, boasts a long and complex past, marked by the likes of the Hapsburgs, Napoléon, the Nazis, and the Communists.

One of the best examples of this is probably Bratislava Castle, a massive monument sitting atop a hill, overlooking the entire city (see lead image). Built in the 9th century, it became the formal seat of the kings of Royal Hungary in the mid 16th century. Restored many times over its 1,000+ years of existence, it has four corner towers that make it look like an upturned table. And according to legend, the internal stairs are very wide and shallow as Hapsburg Empress Maria Theresa was too heavy to climb them herself, and insisted instead on riding her horse up and down. The castle is now home to the Slovak National museum and its beautiful grounds provide for some great photo opportunities.

A walk through the narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town is like stepping back in time. The buildings date from various architectural periods, and the main square, Hlavné Námestie, full of cafés and kiosks selling handcrafts, bustles with life.

From the terraces of both Michael’s Gate, the only preserved gate of Bratislava’s fortifications, and the Old Town Hall’s Yellow Tower, one can enjoy a fantastic panoramic view of the surroundings. The three-nave Gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral with its gilded replica of the coronation crown atop is a reminder of the city’s glorious past, while the many whimsical statutes that are dotted around the Old Town are a nod to a quirkier side, like Schöne Náci, the jovial chap in tails with cane, who doffs his top hat to the curious Čumil popping out of a manhole (pictured below).

cumil

Just outside the walls of the Old Town, St. Elizabeth’s church, built in the Art Nouveau style at the beginning of the 20th century, is a not-to-be-missed attraction with it blue-coloured façade and dome. A little further outside the city, the ruins of Devin Castle, a fortress built on a high rock towering above the confluence of the Danube and Morava Rivers, offer enchanting natural scenery.

Blue church

There is no direct flight from Nice to Bratislava, but the city is easily accessible by train or bus from both Vienna and Budapest.