Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Changing Faces of Modern Art

This is Marseille's big show of the late winter / early spring - in fact it's the city's most ambitious show of the year. Visages: Picasso, Magritte, Warhol... (Faces: Picasso, Magritte, Warhol...) traces the representation of the human face in art from the early 20th century to the present day through 150 works by 97 leading artists, also including Munch, Grosz, Giacometti, Bonnard and Bacon. The show opens tomorrow (21 February), but we got a preview yesterday at the press show and here's our report: click here to read more

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Man From Michelin, He Say Yes

It's that time of year again! In February Michelin publishes the new editions of its influential guides, both touristic and gastronomic. First up is tourism (the restaurant guide follows later this month) - and it seems as though all those renovations and new or revamped museums in Marseille have paid off, big-time because the man from Michelin has positively showered the city with stars. Click here to read more

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Who Chooses France's Most Beautiful Villages?

I've often wondered idly who chooses France's Most Beautiful Villages, on what basis and whether villages ever get booted off the list (they do). So I found out a bit more about this typically bureaucratic system - and about the Most Beautiful Village which left the list of its own accord. Click here to read more

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hip Hop Hooray For Dance In Avignon

The huge Avignon Theatre Festival in July isn't the only major arts event in town. Les Hivernales, as the name hints, unfolds in winter (or rather, this year, in the very early spring) and celebrates dance, and in 2014 hip hop is the star. Click here to read more

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

One of the Best Restaurants in Aix en Provence

I've been hearing really great things about Vintrépide, a new-ish restaurant in a quiet little backstreet right on the edge of the Old Town in Aix en Provence. So one mid-week lunchtime we dropped by to check it out. The verdict: while prices aren't cheap (but then that's true of pretty much any half-way decent restaurant in Aix), Vintrépide represents superlative value and is certainly one of the best spots to eat in town. Click here to read more

Saturday, February 8, 2014

World's Largest Cruise Ship To Sail to Marseille

The American cruise company Royal Caribbean has just announced that its monster cruise ship, Allure of the Seas - which claims to be the largest in the world with accommodation for 5400 passengers, plus another couple of thousand more crew - will be sailing to Marseille in 2015 - and, for those ultra early birds among you, booking for this floating city is already open (and you can bet the sky will be a good deal bluer on the Mediterranean than in the above photo). Click here to read more

Friday, February 7, 2014

Brangelina Strikes Gold, Again

Normal service returns here at A Taste of Provence after a brisk but fabulous two-week break in Mexico, and there's a ton of news to catch up with. First off, we learn that Miraval rosé, the celebrity wine curated by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at their Provence estate, has just won yet more accolades. After rave reviews for the couple's maiden, 2012 vintage, the second, 2013 wine - which goes on sale this week - has been acclaimed in equally glowing terms ("charmingly pretty"... "a mouthwatering finish") in Decanter magazine. Click here to read more

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Discover Pagnol in the Hills of Aubagne

Each year, just outside Marseille, a group of actors offers a season of all-day hikes combined with theatrical performances. These are a really brilliant experience. As you hike through the craggy hills of Aubagne and Allauch, you watch (and play an extra in) a show dramatising Marcel Pagnol's work in the very landscapes where it's set. Previous plays have told the celebrated story of Manon des Sources or been based on the charming comedy The Baker's Wife. This year there's a new spectacle inspired by Pagnol's 1938 satire, Le Schpountz, about a naive bumpkin who fantasises about becoming a movie star (it originally starred the popular local actor Fernandel, seen on the pster above). Click here to read more

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Memories of the First World War in Provence

The centenary of the beginning of the First World War will be marked in many ways across Europe, and one of the first examples is in Avignon, which is staging an exhibition of the drawings of the Belgian symbolist artist Henry de Groux.  Born in 1866, de Groux would have been too old to fight in the war, but he spent time at the front in the Marne and hauntingly captured the horrors he saw there. Around 40 of his powerful pieces are on display in the foyer of the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) from 7 February to 9 March. Pictured  above: L'Assaut, Verdun. And there's plenty more to come in the course of the year. Click here to read more

Friday, January 17, 2014

A New Comic-Strip Tramway For Aubagne

How do you fancy these chaps and chapettes as fellow commuters? When the town of Aubagne, just outside Marseille, decided to install a new tramway system, it also commissioned a leading artist to design it. The choice fell on Hervé Di Rosa, who hails from Sète, just along the coast. Di Rosa is a leading practitioner of bandes dessinées (graphic novels) and one of his most popular characters, the jolly one-eyed René, inspired these designs. Click here to read more

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Enrolment Opens For The World's Most Romantic Swimming Race

One of the world's most romantic swimming races must surely be the Monte Cristo Challenge. Each year in June some 700 swimmers in Marseille set off from the Château d'If, inspired by Edmund Dantès, the hero of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo. The 2014 dates have just been confirmed, as is the day when online enrolment opens/ Click here to read more

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

An Explosion of Gold at the Quarries of Lights

The Quarries of Lights, one of the major attractions in the Avignon / Saint Rémy de Provence area, are temporarily closed while a brand-new show for 2014 is being installed. But here's a preview of what to expect when they reopen in March: an explosion of gold and colour courtesy of Gustav Klimt (the author of the famous Kiss, which you can glimpse in the simulation of the spectacle, pictured above), plus other painters of the Viennese school. And, while you're waiting, the Quarries online shop has a sale, with heavy discounts on merchandise linked to the 2013 show, including pretty notebooks, mugs and so on with a Renoir or Monet theme. Click here to read more

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Horsing About in Avignon

A midwinter highlight in Avignon, Cheval Passion (Horse Passion) is a celebration of all things equestrian. One of the leading events of its kind in Europe, it features 1,200 horses, 250 exhibitors and 90 hours of events and performances in 2014 -  and it gallops off this week. Click here to read more

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Mysterious Opéra Noir Comes To Marseille

There's a mysterious new arrival in central Marseille: inaugurated yesterday, the Opéra Noir is an architectural and sound installation on the place Lulli, just behind the real Opéra de Marseille, of which it is an eerie shadow. Click here to read more

Monday, January 6, 2014

Marseille's Low-Cost Air Terminal Gets A Facelift

With its long queues at security checks and cramped conditions in the departure lounge, mp2, the low-cost air terminal at Marseille-Provence airport, is miserable to fly to and from. It currently scores one of the lowest marks on the scale of standards set by Iata, the trade association which represents the international airline industry. But that's about to change - and not before time. In 2014 a 4.9 million €uro investment programme will expand and improve the facilities. Click here to read more

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Feast Fit For Three Kings

Happy New Year -- and the party still isn't over in Provence! Christmas celebrations down here rumble on into early February but this month's highlight is the Epiphany festivities. First off are the delicious brioches des rois glowing temptingly in bakeries all over the region. And, if you're in Aix, you might take a look at the Marche des Rois, the procession through town of the Three Kings, accompanied by their camels. Click here to read more