My daughter Anne and I are approaching the end of day 3 together on the Cote d’Azure or as it is usually referred to in the USA as the French Riviera. The region extends along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea from Menton, near the Italian border to the east as far as St. Tropez to the west and at least and for us to Marseilles as well,even farther west. Our first day was spent recovering from our trips here and a bit of exploration of our base here in St. Paul de Vence just a little inland from the sea. Yesterday we visited the Matisse chapel in Vence, the old town of Vence where we had a lovely lunch at Les Agape restaurant. I expanded my French when I learned that “Les Agape” refers to a collection of convivial diners enjoying food and wine together. As a couple of today’s photos will show my daughter’s Caesar Salad with chicken and my delicious Grilled Bar (fish) with crispy skin will show we had a typical French lunch of a couple of hours and of course some delicilous white and rose’ wine to enhance the flavor of our food. The afternoon was spent exploring the wonderful art collection of The Foundation Maeght in St. Paul. It was a gorgeous day and although the Cote d’Azure refers to the azure of the Mediterranean Sea yesterday it could have referred to the azure of the sky of southern France. The lovely green outside grounds of the museum are studded with sculptures on an amazing variety of colors and artistic styles. The interior is devoted to modern art of a variety of artists.
Our day today began with a visit to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice, built by contributions from wealthy Russians who enjoyed visiting the Cote d’Azure to escape from harsh Russian winters in the early years of the 20th century. Our visit was enhanced by a mass that was in progress when we entered, which allowed us to observe the Russian Orthodox priests in their fine, colorful costumes and to listen to the lovely choir music. The Cimiez region of Nice, on the hill high above the hustle and bustle of the main city, with it’s Monastery, gardens, fantastic Roman ruins and the Matisse Museum, occupied the rest of our morning. Although I had visited the park area at least a couple of times in the past, the Matisse Museum which I came specifically to see, was always closed but today it was open and we enjoyed the extensive collection of Matisse’s work with examples of his approach to his art throughout his long career.
Lunch was at the recommendation of our guide Patrick Rossi who suggested that we try socca, a local snack type of food made with chick pea flower and fried. It was delicious!! After lunch was taken up with a visit to the excellent Marc Chagall Museum located in a large green space park with very modern architectural style to the buildings. Unlike most museums dedicated to a single artists work the Chagall Museum was opened in 1973 with the living artist in attendance and with his full involvement and blessing. He actually selected the pieces to be exhibited and their arrangement within the museum. Our visit to the museum was begun by watching an excellent movie of about 45 minutes length which included a biography of the artist, scenes from his early life in Vitebsk, Russia, his subsequent moves to France and especially the Cote d’Azure and the USA as well. Another highlight of the move was a series of interviews with the artist himself discussing his work, it’s strong background in his Jewish faith and his general philosophy of life and art. The museum itself contains mostly religious themed works of a variety of media and is a superb way to spend a sunny afternoon on the Cote d’Azure. Next on the agenda is dinner at Restaurant Louis XV located in the Hotel De Paris in Monte Carlo, Monaco.