Monthly Archives: May 2013


Norman Foster's mirror

Norman Foster’s Ombriere. You’re almost under it before you notice it.

After nine months of construction, re-routing of traffic and a rumoured EUR45 million bill, visitors to Marseilles’ Vieux Port can now photograph themselves upside down.

Norman Foster’s Ombriere, a huge flat mirror supported on poles above the terrace in front of the Vieux Port, reflects the colourful fishing boats, the buses, the beggars and hawkers, the school excursions, the petit trains and the visitors who cluster in this hub of Marseillaise tourist life.

I hope this mirror thing doesn’t become a cliche, like the giant ferris wheels sprouting on groovy, go-ahead, ‘wow, look at us!’ city skylines. Continue reading


Filed under Art, France


Oooh, yucky!

Oooh, yucky!

Marseilles is having trouble in its role as Capitale Europeenne de la Culture 2013.

We get our first sense of this when we call in at the Office de Tourisme and ask for our City Pass Marseille. It’s a museum and public transport card that, according to the website, “…makes it easy for first time visitors by identifying the best things to do in the city and permits to save (sic) money and time.”

Except today, ‘Sorry, Sir, our printer is not working so we cannot make the cards.’ Continue reading


Filed under France


It wasn't easy to get here.

It wasn’t easy to get here, so you might at least look pleased to see us!

“Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur? What do you mean, ‘Complet’? It’s taken us an hour to find the bus stop and another 45 minutes to wait for your bus to come along and now you’re saying you’re full?

How are we supposed to get to Saint-Paul if every bloody bus…Ok, d’accord, Monsieur, you only drive the damn thing. Nice beard, by the way.”

We know there often isn’t a lot of public transport into walled mediaeval villages perched on Provencal hilltops. But Saint-Paul-de-Vence isn’t just any mediaeval village. It’s now a tourist mecca, thanks to the artists, past and present, who have lived and worked there. A lot of us want to see it. Continue reading


Filed under Art, Belgium, France

THE FINE ART OF GAMBLING – our win at Monte Carlo

Anish Kapoor, Sky Mirror 1999

Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror 1999. I presume the punters paid for it.

The prosperity on show in Monte Carlo is compelling evidence that the house always wins in the end.

It was our first trip to Monaco, an easy way to add another country to the notches on our travelling sticks. Much of the surface area of the principality was covered with temporary seating, in preparation for some kind of automobile race.

We skirted round the scaffolding and sidled into the Monte Carlo Casino, wondering, ‘Are we even allowed in there if we’re not going to lose money?’

Mevrouw T and I have a major advantage over the average punter because we don’t know how to gamble. Blackjack and roulette are mysteries to us and we can’t even work poker machines. We see where the money goes in, but what do you do after that? Continue reading


Filed under Art


Many shops may be selling souvenirs or cafe to tourists, but there's still a charming feel, at least in the non-high season.

Many shops may be selling souvenirs or cafe to tourists, but there’s still charm, at least in the non-high season.

It’s hard to avoid making bad puns on this city’s name, and even harder to make them funny in print or out loud.

It was a nice day for wandering with the camera through the nice streets and museums of Nice. Continue reading


Filed under France, travel photography


Better Homes and Gardens ...than ours.

Better Homes and Gardens …than ours.

It’s all very well to have money in the bank or, if you’re a Rothschild, to own the bank. But unless you have vision and taste to match your cash, you may blow it all buying something silly, like a string of racehorses or another bank.

Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild (1864-1934) not only had deep pockets and plenty to fill them, but also a passion for travel and an eye for beauty in nature, art and architecture.

We’ve just visited her little pad on Cap Ferrat on the French Riviera. Continue reading


Filed under Architecture, France