With the opening of the blockbuster exhibition at London's Tate Modern: Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs which runs until September 7th, everybody is once again Matisse-mad. So why not continue the Matisse theme with a trip to places in France associated with the great artist?
Start in northern France in Le Cateau-Cambrésis. This is the Nord-Pas de Calais city where Matisse was born. A textile center, Matisse's early life was spent surrounded by the designs and materials that influenced so much of his work. Matisse chose what he wanted to give to the town's Matisse Museum and how they should be displayed. It's a wonderful museum and easy to reach both from Paris and from the UK.
But it's the south of France that is most associated with Matisse. He first went to the Cote d'Azur in 1904 on the recommendation of his friend Paul Signac, visiting what was then the small fishing port of St. Tropez. He finally settled in Nice and is buried in the Cemetery de Cimiez. Today his house is a museum where you can see the Blue Nudes and items that he used in his paintings (though some are currently on loan to the Tate Modern exhibition). He was visited there by his friend Picasso who took the train from Antibes where he was living in the Grimaldi Castle (now the Picasso Museum). And don't miss the Fondation Maeght at nearby Vence, one of the most charming hilltop villages to stay in just behind the Cote d'Azur.
Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs goes from Tate Modern when it closes on September 7th to MoMA, New York where it will be on show from October 25th to February 9th 2015.
In the Footsteps of Matisse--Follow his life from North France to Cimiez.
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Images: Top: The Matisse Museum at Cimiez, Nice; Bottom: The Matisse Museum in Le Cateau-Cambresis
Learn to play jazz in a great atmosphere at the Dordogne International Jazz Summer School, held yearly in the 12th century Chateau de Monteton. Led by pianist and composer Andrea Vicari, it's a week of complete immersion in jazz and improvisation. You learn during the day and play at the organized jam sessions in the evenings. There are free concerts given by the tutors and other professional jazz musicians and it's for all levels whatever your expertise and for all instruments. You finish the week performing to a live audience.
There are two weeks in 2014: July 26th to August 2nd and a more intensive week for experienced advanced players from August 2nd to 9th.
Above all, it's a relaxed week with expert musicians who make friendly, non-judgemental tutors (important if you're a nervous inexperienced player).
It's just one hour from Bordeaux and half an hour from Bergerac, so you have a choice of international flights and cheap airlines as well. The village is pretty and there's plenty to see and do in the area if you go with a partner who wants some sightseeing.
There's a UK Office and you can meet the organizers and try a taster session at Hideaway in Streatham, south London if you're in the UK.
The fee of 850 euros per person in shared accommodation includes airport pickup, accommodation and meals, six days of jazz tuition and full use of facilities. Electric Pianos, keyboards, drum kits, Mics, PAs and some amps are provided.
Contact: Mr. Dorian Lockett
Dordogne Jazz Summer School
212 Sherwood Avenue,
London SW16 5EF
Tel.: 020-8764 6478
00 44 20 87 64 64 78
Mobile UK: 079 4192 7252
More on Jazz in France
If you're a jazz fan, it's likely you've been to some of France's great jazz festivals which take place throughout the year. But they're at their best during the summer when you sit in a stunning open-air venue, perhaps beside the Mediterranean or in a small hilltop Provence town and listen to the sweet clear sounds of the music.
Images: Top: Participants at the Dordogne Summer Jazz School; Bottom: Sonny Rollins at Juan
Real enthusiasts of the Longest Day, June 6th, 1944, can take their enthusiasm to bed with them at any of four bed and breakfasts in Normandy with a D-Day landing theme or connection. Perhaps La Ferme de Riou, just 1.5kms (1 mile) from Sainte-Mère where the rooms are full of World War II memorabilia? Or how about Spirit of 1944, located between two temporary advanced airfields built by USAAF's 9th Air Force where the first thing you hear when you walk through the door is the music of Glenn Miller? These are just two of four excellent places that are very good value as well as being a must for World War II fans.
Information on World War II Bed and Breakfasts in Normandy
More about Normandy and World War II
Images: Top: Chateau de Vouilly which housed the American press (Walter Cronkite, Hemingway and others) during the invasion; Bottom: The Airborne Museum at Saint-Mère
Nice has a new attraction--a Green Corridor (Corridor vert) that runs from the fabulous Museum of Modern Art and Contemporary Art (MAMAC) to the famous Promenade des Anglais. It opened in November but is only now, with the warm weather kicking in, finally coming into its own. It makes a lovely walk from the bustle of the sea scene along the Promenade to the blockbuster MAMAC which takes the role of Nice in the 1960s and '70s to today through the artistic movements of France (though Nice) and America. The new Green Corridor is similar to the green High Line in New York and is all part of the regeneration of the city center and the Port of Nice.
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