Monday, February 3, 2014

Let's Talk About France

 I think it would be quite boring if I gave a travelogue of the day by day things we did in France.  So I think I"m going to cover categories.  Art.  Martin and I love art museums.  No, we did not see the Louvre, because we did not go to Paris.  We were in Toulouse, which is in southern France and near the region of Provence.  Toulouse is the fourth largest city and is the home of Airbus and I found it charming.  We were told that whenever you are in a new city, you first go to the Office of Tourism, which we did.  We were directed to the museums and monuments and everything else of interest.  Most of the museums we visited were in old buildings that previously had a different purpose. 
  This museum is an old abbey.  It was converted to an art museum and the building itself is art to me.
I can't say that I have heard of all the artists whose paintings were hanging here, but I was spellbound.
 This had to be one of my favorite paintings of the entire trip.
 Their special exhibit was bibles and handwritten books by monks from the middle ages.  The lighting wasn't great for pictures, but I took this one.  It doesn't do justice to the monks' work. There were hundreds of books with elaborate drawing and paintings and the calligraphy!
We roadtripped to Albi and visited another medieval abbey that had been converted to an art museum.  This one was dedicated to a specific artist. Henri Toulouse Letrec.  Yeah, I didn't know him either, but he is extremely famous in France.  He was an artist in the late 1700s to early 1800s.  I got in trouble for taking pictures at this museum, so I only got this one.  In Toulouse they encouraged photos, but with no flash.  At smaller towns we visited no pictures were allowed, which made me sad, because there was a Picasso exhibit that really needed to be photographed.  Sigh.
 After four days in Toulouse, we moved ourselves to Arles, a former capital of the Roman empire.  This little gem was hanging in our hotel room, which was an old building from the mid 1600s.  It's hard to see, but the little French girls is fishing in a bucket.  Truly, this is how all the little French children dressed.  Fabulous coats and hats.  Love.
It seems that Vincent Van Gough lived in Arles for a time.  It's actually the place that he went insane and cut his ear off.  Yikes.  This monument is in the park near the main area of town.  Sadly, they have none of his works because the ones he painted here were some of his best and are in large museums all over the world - Sunflowers, Starry Night, his self portrait with the ear cut off, etc.  They do have his hospital room on display if you are into that sort of thing.
He apparently loved to visit the old Roman cemetery in Arles, Les Alyscamps.  This copy of his painting is in the cemetery on display.  I will tell you about the cemetery in another post, because it really needs its own post.  You know how I am about cemeteries.

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