Paradise Regained

Cortés might have thought that paradise would be cities of gold atop majestic cliffs.  Captain Cook’s sailors might have thought it’s beaches with scantily-clad beauties.  Paradise is different things to different people.  Some reach it.

For the record, I haven’t found paradise, but I’ve located an outlet.  And I don’t have to sail the Seven Seas or scale the cliffs of the Andes.  It’s easily accessible.  And available in every French town and city.   It’s the cheese section at Carrefour.

Wikipedia informs us:  ‘Traditionally, there are from 350 to 400 distinct types of French cheese grouped into eight categories. There can be many varieties within each type of cheese, leading some to claim closer to 1,000 different types of French cheese. In 1962, ex-president Charles de Gaulle  was famously quoted as saying “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”

The stirring of awareness in my own country regarding cheese has been tardy and is relatively recent.  But we’re getting there.  You can’t keep a good cheese down.

Meanwhile, back at Carrefour…

Le Rustique


Camembert D’Isigny

With a fresh pain de campagne and a flagon of Rosé d’Alsace or Burgundy rouge or Vallauria Muscat (the wine can adapt to the occasion), you might well dissuade a Cortés or a Cook from  false paradisial pursuits.  And live in the comfort that, when all else fails, there is cheese.

 © Will v.d. Walt

Mercredi  30 Janvier 2013

Images: Will


A stroll through Juan Les Pins

After a Pan Bagnat and a carafe of dry white in a restaurant close to the clatter of the beach, Claudie and I take a stroll through Juan Les Pins.  A warm winters day with the sun, as the poet tells us, clashing swords with the sea.  We pass the Garden Beach Hotel and Casino with its quirky post-modern architecture.  We pause:  many jazz artists have left impressions of their hands in the pavement, they who made the annual Jazz Festival here world famous.  Names that I associate with joyous musical memories.  At the Arena, where it all happens flanking the beach, there is a fanciful steel art work towering over the open ground.  Locals study the lie of their bowls in a peaceful game of petanque.

The Garden Beach Hotel

Dave Brubeck played music here

The Casino

Ray Charles

Garden Beach Hotel front

Play that fiddle, Stéphane!


Jazz Arena

Jazz Arena

Chick Corea


© Will v.d. Walt

Vendredi  28 Decembre 2012

Image Sources: Images by Will 

Musée de la Castre, Cannes

With no plans I hopped off the ‘bus from Antibes and knocked around the Cannes flea market for a while, seeing the ouch prices more suited to upmarket antique boutiques.   Then I looked up to the hill of Le Suquet, the cluster of 11th– to 12th-century buildings overlooking the sweep of Cannes, dominated by a tall square watchtower.   I followed an impulse and meandered up between the stone buildings to the terraces where umbrella pines grace this historical place.  Signs to the museum were a further prompt.

Le Suquet

Curiosity took me past the six euro entry fee into the Museum which is billed as one of the most remarkable ethnographic museums in France.  Two 19th-century travellers, Lycklama à Nijholdt, a Hollander, and de Ginaux de la Coche, a Frenchman, were the first to provide objets for the museum – objects of all description from central Asia, Oceania, Indonesia, the Middle East, Greece, Cyprus, Africa and South America.

The objects take one from our standardised world into a realm of the strange, the grotesque, often brilliantly fashioned, by hands unknown and for reasons obscured, beautiful and striking.

Ritual canoo,Trobriand Islands

A ritual canoo from the Trobriand Islands reminded me of Malinowski whose ground-breaking studies described these canoos as evidence of an entirely integrated culture.   A Venus from classical Greece reminiscent of the De Milo;  4th-century Christian sarcophagi;  figures from Mesopotamia 5000  years old; and from Cyprus a stone head of the first visitor of importance in Provence, Hercules.

Fifth-century Venus

In a spacious Romanesque chapel that could have served as a model for later gothic designs, they house an extensive collection of African musical instruments, mainly from the Sahara and West and Central Africa, taking the imagination into uncharted territory.

Romanesque chapel, African instruments

Catching my breath, I climbed the 109 steps of the watchtower to a panoramic view of Cannes, the Festival Hall in the foreground, where the Film festival is held, and La Croisette, the boulevard of renowned hotels.

Etruscan sarcophagus 6th-century BC

Etruscan sarcophagus 6th-century BC

There are many memorable objects in the Museum and the one that I will especially remember is the Etruscan sarcophagus.  On it, semi-reclined, is the figure of a woman, her body at “the eternal banquet”.  It was carved six centuries before Christ.  And it is the finely-effected poignancy on the face that remains with me.

© Will v.d. Walt

Samedi 5 Janvier 2013

Image Sources: Images by Will 

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