Garage Door Art – Antibes

Another dimension in the world of graffiti is garage door art.  As I feel about the aesthetics of vibracrete fencing, so artists here – and I suppose elsewhere – feel about garage doors:  cover the faceless plainness.  Here are a few that I’ve seen in the streets of Antibes.

Strange and evocative


Some intrusion from hiphop design


Striking and detailed portrait


A remarkable tromp l’oeil


Les Remparts

(c) Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

September, 2018


My photographs.  Artists unknown.

Garage Door Geuvara



The destruction of sacred places

Why do invaders of a country have the need to destroy sacred places, especially?  In Antibes, archaeologists have found the remains of at least five different cultures and I wonder to what extent each layer represented initial destruction.  These diggings have been made in the Chapel of St Esprit, adjoining the Cathedral in Antibes.

The bell tower of Chapelle St Esprit

In 476 a.d., during the huge political ferment of invasions by Northern Europeans – Ostrogoths, Vandals, Visigoths, to mention some — Visigoths occupied Antibes, sacking and destroying the Chapel of St Mary, established mere  decades before, later to be the Cathedral.  I am uncertain as to how many of these invaders might well have been Christian themselves.

Cathedral and Saracen tower

In 1125 the church was once more sacked and destroyed by invading Saracens.  The presence of Saracens in Provence had ended in 973 when William the Liberator destroyed the settlement at Fraxinet.  In the ensuing years the church was rebuilt, restored and given the form of a cathedral it has today.

Cathedral with baroque facade

The Germans occupied Antibes from late-1942 to August, 1944.  The Cathedral was left unharmed.  In the distance, I recall hearing of a German general who delayed the total destruction of Florence, at the express orders of Hitler, until it was too late.

Choir end of Cathedral, considered the oldest part

But Catholics of Antibes need, ironically, to reflect on how their own forebears built this sacred place on the ruins of a pagan temple, probably dedicated to Aphrodite.  Archaeologists in 1860 even found the remains of the pagan altar under the choir section of the Cathedral.  The historian cryptically notes that the altar was “for sacrifices” which would somehow justify destroying that sacred place.

Cathedral of St Mary, Antibes


© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

September, 2018



Michael Nelson :  The French Riviera A history (Matador, London. 2017)

David Abulafia: The Great Sea (Penguin Books, 2011)

John J. Norwich:  The Middle Sea (Vintage Books, London. 2007)



My photographs






The French word for heat wave which, up to now, I haven’t known or known about.  There has been no need.  But the last two weeks have been the hottest I’ve experienced in France.  It might well be the hottest weather that anyone under forty has known.

I remember the heat in Durban — thick, wet and clinging.  Elsewhere in South Africa the summers are dry.  The Côte d’Azur is different from France:  when it’s snowing in the rest of the country, the day is sunny here; while France was getting the brunt of the Saharan heat sweeping up through Portugal and Spain, with temperatures soaring to 40°C, the Côte d’Azur reached only 34°C.  But, make no mistake, the thickness, the wetness, the clinging are there.

Everything wilts

The meteo on TV keeps promising change.  At the beginning of the third week we have begun to wonder at their competence.  Each day we draw the curtains to live in stygian gloom. We get the roof fan turning. We switch on the air-conditioner.  Our supply of chilled mineral water is dwindling. I walk around the apartment in my Australian underpants;  Claudie is too hot to notice.

This year long-standing weather records have been surpassed globally.  Sceptics are having a harder time in persuading us that climate change is a hoax.  Will we see winter again?

The tight smile of the air-conditioner

At nine minutes to four — yes, let it be documented — the first hot drops of rain began falling on the place below our apartment window.  As I write this evening, there is a cool breeze bringing benediction to the passage and to our rooms.

Place Charles Cros – note the rain puddle

© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

9th August, 2018


My photographs



Café de Flore

This café is one of the oldest coffee bars in Paris, a place where I — alas — only peeped into.  The clientele are highly esteemed in the history of the Left Bank of the Seine.  My focus is on three of them:  Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus.

Over these tables in the smoke of cigarettes and a pipe, these three people urged Western thinking into new directions, giving philosophy a new hat :  Sartre with existentialism ; De Beauvoir with feminism and Camus with absurdism.

Sartre and de Beauvoir

In the Second World War Sartre and de Beauvoir were on the fringes of the French Resistance, while Camus wrote regularly for Combat, the underground newspaper of the Resistance.  In these years De Beauvoir made her notes towards The Second Sex; Camus’ literary work The Outsider and the philosophical treatise Sisyphus would earn him the Nobel prize.  It has been said by some that Sartre’s Being and Nothingness may be the most influential of its kind in our time.

In Café de Flore the test flights were done.  Coffee was cheap, but pipe tobacco, Sartre discovered, was expensive.  Thus, before the discussions, he would crawl on hands and knees under the tables picking up abandoned cigarette butts for the left-over tobacco.   Then, through the curtain of smoke, he could plough up  the history of ideas.


© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2018



Wikipedia : Café de Flore, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus



my drawing







Is he a journalist ?  Is he an anthropologist ?  Is he a diplomat?  It’s difficult to pin down this quicksilver personality.

Antoine de Maximy has made television programmes all over the world.  He is particularly interested in the ordinary, often unglamorous people.  He rides on a sort of motorbike with a sidecar and talks to a gadget that films him as he goes through street or landscape.

The list of countries he has visited is bewildering — Chile, Holland, Namibia, Croasia, to mention but four from the dozens.  Most of the time, on the street, he gets on well with the locals, though there are some exceptions, an aspect which lifts out the cinema vérité of his work.

The signature moment in these programmes is his question:  May I sleep at your house tonight?   Mostly, people say yes, be it an apartment in New York or a grass hut in the bushes of Malawi.  In the morning when he leaves you get the feeling that solid friendships have been cemented.

There must be money for a programme like this and I suspect that he has a camera team eventhough he appears to be solitary.

It is the daring, the relentless curiosity, the patience and the engaging ability to make people from remote cultures laugh with you that make this programme memorable.

He is an intriguing personality, quirky and offhand.  His interest in and yes, love for, all people shine through.

© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2018



France TV




For Claudie – what we enjoy together

Shadow over France

It is with some difficulty and ambivalence that I take on a subject like this one.  Tourne la page, the French may say.  Get over it.  But it is more than curiosity.  We need to remember, if not memorialise, so we can lessen what is still happening in the world in various forms as we speak.  It deals with the Occupation of France during the Second World War, the collaboration with the Germans and the subsequent retribution.

The statistics are somber.  France is known to have collaborated with the Germans more than any other country, with the exception of Hungary.  76,000 Jews were deported and of that number 2,500 survived the death camps.  In June of 1944, even before the Germans were finally expelled from French soil in August of that year, 120,000 people were being named as collaborators to be punished.

The departure of the Germans ushers in a dark period in French history, comparative perhaps to the Great Terror of the French Revolution in the 1790s.

There were two periods in the restitution.  One was called “the wild period” in which summary executions, by individuals and groups, in private and publically, were carried out.  Women, suspected or known to be have been intimate with German soldiers, were publically humiliated.

General de Gaulle put an end to this and the process was handled by courts.  Between 1944 and 1951, a total of 6,762 people were sentenced to death by the official courts.  Of this number 791 were actually executed.  The two leaders of the Vichy government, Pétain and Laval, were tried.  Pétain was pardoned by De Gaulle and received a life sentence.  But Laval was executed by firing squad in 1945.

Ian Ousby, historian of the Occupation, says that one of the greatest tragedies of the Occupation was the division of the French, with collaborators carrying out atrocities.  In this regard, the French Resistance were not idle, either.

In Antibes, less than three weeks after the liberation of the town on 24th August, 1944, in the so-called “wild period”, ten suspected collaborators were summarily executed at Fort Carré.  Some say we should understand this event in its historical context.  Others feel it to be the great shame in the modern history of this town.

© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2018


The Vintage News on the internet

Ian Ousby: Occupation  The Ordeal of France (Pimlico. 1999) 


My drawings

See as well

Archives, French Resistance 1943 – 1944, 28/05/2017



The last shots ceased. The enemy disappeared across the border. We found the collaborators, shaved their heads before jeering crowds.  I took the worst of them to that forest and shot them.  Now, I ask the mirror, What am I doing this side of the border?  I am the enemy.


Flash saga publ by Rockcloud Publishers



A visit to Chapelle Ste Thérèse, Antibes

As a teenager I saw modern stained glass windows for the first time in the Burgers Park Reformed Church in Pretoria.  It struck me that this art work in a Protestant tradition almost entirely without art was a turning-point.  It was the beginning of my interest in artes sacrés.

Chapelle Ste Thérèse

Chapelle interior

The Chapelle Ste Thérèse, about 20 minutes’ walk from where I live, was probably built in the last thirty years.  The simple architecture is engaging — artificial stone cladding and the interior with Romanesque arches.  But it was the stained glass windows and the paintings of the Stations of the Cross that will remain with me.

An ascension scene

St George and the dragon

Mother and Child

The Good Shepherd

Two paintings of the Stations of the Cross

Station of the Cross – Veronica

Station of the Cross – Deposition

This Deposition is different from the tradition of showing the right arm as the first to leave the cross.  Here it is the left arm. arrowing downwards.   The figure of Mary (?) makes me think of an angel.

Altar niche mural

It is believed that when Thérèse was a child she was miraculously saved from death by Mary.  This painting expresses this.

The art in this Chapelle acquires a further depth when one knows the history of Thérèse.  She was born in Normandy.  In her mere 24 years she attained a summit of spirituality that has had some regarding her as the greatest saint of the modern era.  The Basilica de Lisieux in northern France, that celebrates her life, draws the second largest number of pilgrims after Lourdes in France.

© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

June, 2018



Wikipedia St Thérèse


My photographs

See also

Modern Stained Glass 8.4.2018





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