Friday, September 4, 2009

Renoir in Cagnes sur Mer

Yes, I have to pinch myself every morning that I awake to perfect weather in Nice, France. Taking a walk to the local boulangerie for fresh croissants and taking a dip in the pool before enjoying my espresso looking out over the Mediterranean Sea hardly seems like work at all!

Actually I am taking care of this hilltop villa for some friends of mind while they are on a cruise and as long as the dog is alive along with their plants, I will feel like I have earned my keep!

The other day I dared to leave this little piece of paradise to visit Renoir's Museum in Cagnes sur Mer (just down the autoroute a few " sorties"). I had been there in the spring while conducting my annual tour along the Impressionist Path and this museum set amongst ancient olive trees was a recent find - so peaceful and serene that it was well worth another visit. Renoir moved to Les Collettes partly because he was in love with Cagnes sur Mer, the Montmartre of Provence and partly to save this olive grove which was destined to be turned into carnation fields. Thanks to Renoir, these majestic knarled trees overlook the Cotes d' Azur to this day. I roamed around the house that his wife Aline had built to receive there many guests, visited his studio to see his wheelchair and his palette and took another peaceful stroll through the olive groves my camera unable to resist the view.

It takes alot more courage to visit a place on ones own. In the spring I had Jane with me to help with signs,etc. and this time I wanted to see what was so special about Cagnes-sur-Mer from the Medieval village at the very top of the hill. Yes, Medieval village does mean little or no parking and as I had my friends 4 x 4 (not small) I was very deliberate in finding the perfect parking spot - in the shade, lots of space and not on a steep hill! Impossible you say??? With a little patience one opened up for me very close to the Place du Chateau!!! Quelle chance! Thus I was able to enjoy my lovely salad Avocat - Crevettes and a small glass of rose under the platane trees on a terrace overlooking the countryside. Yes, it was just as beautiful as you could imagine!
I spotted a cemetery from there and wondered if this is where Renoir was buried???? So my inquiry with the server had me hopping around the Place du Chateau talking to at least 10 people who thought they knew where he was buried, including the curator of the museum who assured me that he was buried in Essoyes in Champagne! One of the hotel keepers suggested I wait and talk to Renoir's grandson who plays petanque"boules" in the square every evening. The thought almost warranted another few glasses of wine to wait until the heat of the day disappeared and the petanquers came out to play. But alas, the autoroute back to Nice Nord and a cool rooftop swimming pool won out and I returned safely back to the villa - no dints in the 4x4! Whew!
I wonder what will happen tomorrow??? Maggie Muggins!