Pommes et Oranges – Food and Art in Southern France

Take a peek at some of the wonderful markets and art in Provence and you will be pleasantly surprised. Fresh. Crisp. Juicy apples and oranges to eat. Apples and oranges not only to buy but portrayed in the best art of Cezanne treasured in Aix-en-Provence. Still life of course! Recently while visiting Paul Cezanne’s Atelier ( his private studio where he ate, drank, studied and painted) you can appreciate the form and colour he uses so skilfully. His round shaped skulls that echo the round fruit. Cezanne worked every morning in his studio of light and silence to produce oils, water colours; he was the “father of modern art”. At any market you can buy “pink lady apples” and for 2.50 euros, the pomme d’tart – freshly baked and ready to eat with a cafe au creme.

In St Remy on a Wednesday the place comes alive with market fever and friendship as vendors open their hearts to many keen buyers carrying bags and baskets. The ambience of this market is pure magic. Whether it’s food, asparagus, artichokes, cherries or strawberries, the smells of cheeses, olives and sausage tempt any traveller, including me.

In Arles, we arrived to the liveliest and biggest market that covered several streets. I couldn’t get over the never ending supply of fresh food, fish, vegetables, cooked chooks, nuts and pates, bowls of olives, figs and fromage ( cheeses) flavoursome tomatoes, tasty chutneys, gourmet sandwiches, unforgettable ice creams and sorbets, and more. Fill your basket, trolley or carry under the arm. Eat along the way.

The pleasure of food goes hand in hand with art, I feel. Both works are of a creative nature. Passionate and enjoyable. Indulgent. Even the impoverished artists paid for meals with their paintings.

I was dazzled by the number of art galleries in Rouissilion, a red ochre coloured hill top town.

The art of Marc Chagall in Nice captivated me with its spiritual themes and pure light quality. Rooms full of vibrant colour that would fill anyone’s appetite for beauty and meaning.

Where art and food become one is shown in this fantastic bronze sculpture below of mouth watering, glossy cherries. I saw this piece in St Paul de Vence, a medieval hill top village looking out to sea. Dozens of art galleries line the cobbled streets of this town and when we arrived early Wednesday morning, before the crowds, you can gaze into the shop windows saying, WOW! Look at that! Have a look at this! That’s amazing! When the galleries did open after 10.30 am, Bill and I  were impressed with close ups of gigantic cherries, a blue lion, gorilla, panda and even a couple of over-sized Tin Tin busts! Prices beyond our budget. Thank goodness for inexpensive cherries and apples!

Next to the “rich” works of Alzin Gazier ( Szlle de fetes – oil on canvas for 16.000 euro) and Claude Fauchere, I came down to earth with a more affordable painter Sylvie T  (pastels, watercolours and ink in Nice) whose mother sold me 4 bookmarks with Sylvie’s drawings. She was very proud of her artist-daughter. Her Atelier galerie in Nice is a hidden gem. Delicate watercolour prints of windows, lanterns, architecture and villages. Close to this shop was another surprise finding. Artist Sebastien Di Natale was working on a large portrait/ poster when 2 girls and I stepped into the space. ArtNice Editions allowed me to buy one of his special “blue chair” postcards painted by him. Sebastien also sold handmade designer jewellery and original prints ( contemporary Michael Jackson, David Bowie) Now didn’t Van Gogh paint a famous chair?

The food and art in southern France has been such a wonderful experience. I hope to show you dear friends and family some of the salads and plats du jour ( main meal) we have been fortunate to sample. Always the polite manner in which we are served is a compliment to the waiters and chefs in this region. In the quiet side cafes there are many choices served with wine, or, as we liked, water (with gas!)

Please share with me your favourite salad winter/ spring dish; or piece of art that brings you joy.

My next post will see us safely in Italy for the last part of our adventure. Bon Appetit!

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June 4, 2017 at 9:19 am

Oh Margaret, the art is delicious. There is something incredible about standing in front of good art work. I really enjoyed your post.

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June 4, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Yes more art found in Menton with a surprise Raoul Dufy exhibition – I really enjoyed seeing his themes of the sea, boats, parks, music and flowers. He also painted textiles in glorious colours and patterns.

M.J. Gibbs
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