Once again, Anthony has been named as a top travel specialist for France by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine. They had this to say about Anthony:
Headed to Provence or the French Riviera? Bay lives in the region and is a registered French National Guide who can design a ne plus ultra itinerary that incorporates everything from hidden-gem vineyards to the most authentic regional festivals to lunch at Club 55 on Pampelonne Beach in St-Tropez
Anthony Bay was recognised in 2012 as a Condé Nast
Top Travel Specialist for France & Provence
Renoir Comes to the States in February
The much acclaimed film ‘Renoir’ by French Director Gilles Bourdas arrives in America this month, premiered during the 18th “Rendez Vous with French Cinema” season at the Lincoln Center, February 28 thru March 10 and on general distribution from May.
Lavishly shot in the South of France, the film is based on the true story of Renoir in 1917, crippled with arthritis and mourning the death of his wife. Tormented also over the fate of his son Jean fighting in the trenches, the great painter seemed to have lost his sparkle.
And then into his life, almost miraculously, arrives the voluptuous and bewitching young Andrée Heuschling, who becomes his last model and muse, lightening up his life and giving him new energy and inspiration for his paintings. Not long after, Jean returns wounded from the trenches, and quickly falls in love with Andrée.
Whilst the film concentrates solely on these few events, its glorious images – of the life of a painter in Provence, the beauty of his models and of the countryside they all lived in – mean that the 1hr50m pass effortlessly for the viewer. Certainly the acting is superb throughout : Michel Bouquet, now 87 and a veritable institution in France, brilliantly portrays the ageing and complex Renoir. Meanwhile 21 year old Christa Théret, one of France’s hottest young stars today, effortlessly captures both the passion and the wild, untamable spirit of Andrée that so dazzled the Renoir men.
We know that Jean Renoir went on to marry Andrée and took her to Hollywood with him where, under the stage name of Catherine Hessling, she worked on many of his movies in the 20s. They parted company in 1931 and whilst Jean pursued a brilliant career in film – Orson Wells called him “the greatest of all Directors” – Andrée withdrew from public life and died anonymously.
In France the film has received universal acclaim for the beauty of its images and the quality of acting, but it has also been criticized for having too thin a storyline, and being overly beautiful at the expense of substance.
The film also triggered a terse exchange of words between Jacques Renoir, the artist’s great grandson, and the director Bourdas. Perhaps angered that Bourdas had not mentioned his book about this period of his great grandfather’s life (which Bourdas had read before filming), and also by the fact that he had been unable to raise money to shoot his own version, Renoir dismissed the film as a “minor sketch shot by an opportunist “, whilst Bordas retorted “I understand the sentiments of a direct descendent who dreams of making such a film”.
La Domaine des Collettes, the house in Cagnes in which Renoir lived during the period of this film, is currently closed for renovation until July of this year.
We all know that great museums exist on the French Riviera – we rejoice with Picasso in Antibes and with Matisse in Vence, we admire Chagall’s ‘Biblical Message’ and Joan Miro’s voluptuous sculpture, the mythologically inspired ‘Sea Goddess,’ which he submerged into the sea, amidst great pomp and festivity for fifteen years, to protect the “peace of the waters” as he put it.
But few realize quite what a rich seam of art there is on the Riviera, quite how diversified it is and how well it’s exhibited.
“…in Legér’s paintings, man himself became a metallic volume, similar to the very weapons which tore him apart (in the trenches of the WWI) : a robotic, armored figure, whose staccato movements likened him to a piece of machinery….” This is Brigitte Hedel-Samson brilliantly describing how the early work of the great artist, sculptor and filmmaker Fernand Legér was influenced by his grim experiences of war.
A superb, spacious museum lying near the village of Biot intelligently follows Legér’s development, from Cubism through to a more figurative style, as he simplified his work, flattening space and color – to such a point that he has been cited as the forerunner of Pop Art.
Further down the road, in a peaceful olive grove just outside Cagnes, lies the house in which Impressionist master Auguste Rodin lived out the last years of his life, captivated by the luxurious landscapes, the soft light and radiance of colors. It’s a delightful, tranquil, and very much a family home, where the great master worked until nearly his last day, his fingers so badly gnarled by rheumatism that he had to have his paint brushes strapped to his hand. Wander it one day, and be captivated as I was by the whole charming atmosphere.
Meanwhile, down at the port of Villefranche, the witty socialite Jean Cocteau, for whom the word ‘sybaritic’ would seem to have been coined, had run away from home at the age of 15 to Marseilles, and in the 1950s, as an older man, was back on the coast, a self confessed “adopted son of the South, a true Mediterranean”.
The excessive wild partying of the 1920s had now calmed down and Cocteau set about attempting to decorate the little fishermen’s chapel on Villefranche’s port – to the disconcertion of the fishermen. Eventually he won them round and created a little gem of a masterpiece on the lovely Place Amélie Pollonais. Inside is a swirling exuberance of color and form, rich in mythology and rejoicing in the lives of the local people and of St Peter. Take a chance to visit it, and relax afterward over a cooling pastis on the lovely Place overlooking the medieval port.
Anthony Bay is Europe 2011 tours are now all but impossible to obtain, so watch this space for the launch of our 2012 program in July, with some really exciting new products!
Meanwhile, best wishes to you all,
It’s in full swing, and looking good! The 64th Cannes Film Festival was launched last week with Robert de Niro as President, and all the usual razzmatazz has accompanied the occasion. Rumours are rife that the city is crawling with plain clothed CIA agents, whilst white seemed to be this year’s preferred colour for the leading ladies on opening day (any connections with a recent wedding?).
For the locals in my village, it just means that going down to Cannes is pointless for ten days, and that it will be sure to rain – which it duly did on Saturday, heavily, to everyone’s contentment. Meanwhile a particularly grumpy group of locals have formed an action committee to try and get a ban on all the private jets flying over our heads, on the grounds that they constitute a public nuisance. Well, that’s one way of looking at celebrities, I suppose….
It’s interesting to remember that the Cannes Film Festival was first launched in 1939 as a political act to counter the restrictions on artistic freedom imposed by the fascist governments of Germany and Italy. The plan was to hold the festival in September, but Germany’s invasion of Poland that same month, and the consequent declaration of War, delayed opening until 1946.
Our Fall tours are all looking good and there’s still some space available on them. Here’s a choice of just three of the many highlights on each trip :
Lou Provenço – Provence and the Lubéron
Sept 02 – Sept 11
- lunch with a Provencal farmer amongst his lavender fields
- carouse with the jet set in St Tropez
- visit the asylum to which Vincent van Gogh was admitted
Hidden Europe – A Journey through Transylvania and the Maramureş region
Sept 23 – Oct 02
- enjoy a private village festival with the villagers and their children entertaining you
- visit a Communist political prison and the birthplace of Elie Wiesel
- dine at the home of a leading Hungarian businessman
The Green and Gentle Heart of Italy – Through Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio
Oct 14 – Oct 23
- Have lunch with a Princess in her medieval castle
- Explore Orvieto’s 3,000 year old underground city
- Visit of St Francis of Assisi’s chapel conducted by a monk
Oct 28 – Nov 06
- Private viewing of racehorses training, Degas-style
- Visit to Matisse’s home and to an astounding private collection of 20th century art
- A walking tour of Montmartre, where the Impressionists lived
- Just to remind you all our itineraries can be tailor made for one-off groups or families (or other itineraries also), and that I am available as a Tour Director in Europe and local guide in the Provence/Riviera region.
With very best wishes
Greetings and abundant thanks for the wonderful support and encouragement we’ve received for the launch of Anthony Bay is Europe – and particular thanks to all those of you who have already booked itineraries or are holding options.
To celebrate the arrival of Spring I’ve written for this Newsletter a few tales from Provence, which may amuse you and which you can access by visiting our website. There are stories of highwaymen and galley slaves, of mimosa bushes and a little known beach near Cannes.
We’re really excited with our plans for 2012, which I’ll be unveiling to you in a few weeks’ time, and for now I send you my very best wishes, and leave you with this month’s selection of highlights from our program:
- All our itineraries can be tailor-made for private groups or families, on request
- I am available for private guiding, according to availability
- We guarantee departures, once 2 passengers have paid their deposit!
With very best wishes