Tuesday, 7 July 2015

From Provence to Nice

The picturesque town of Gordes in Provence
Our visit to Provence ended today, with a quick visit to Gordes, considered the most picturesque town in France, and the stone villas look simultaneously rustic and luxurious.

Spotted Marilyn Monroe on the wall of a hotel
They are scattered over the hills, some with swimming pools to keep cool. We happened to pass by during a farmer's market where fresh vegetables and fruits were sold, along with clothing and espadrilles.

We were particularly impressed by the walls, made of individual rough plate-like stones that were assembled with a bit of mortar in between to hold them together, or with time, as there were even plants growing in the dirt that had accumulated between the cracks.

Another quick tour of Cannes was made, where the film festival began in 1946, where And God Created Woman which made Brigitte Bardot a star. Nine years later the Palm d'Or was established to award the best film of the event by a jury made up of actors and directors.

The "organ", where scents are mixed to create a perfume
And how can we pass through the area without going to Grasse, home of where perfume is made? Our tour (like many other groups) went to Fragonard, named after the painter and printmaker Jean-Honore Fragonard who was born in Grasse in 1732.

In the 16th century it was fashionable to wear perfume to mask the smell of leather. Fragonard the perfumery was started in 1926 and our guide hinted the company made perfumes for other companies.

The "nose", or the person who creates the scents is highly sought after. It takes nine years to study to become one -- if they have the talent for it.

A ceremony marking the deaths of two resistance members
In general it takes 10,000 flowers to make 1kg of essence, and lavender will be cut in the next few days, of which takes 600kg for 1kg of essence of the purple flower.

We arrived in Nice late in the afternoon and temperatures cooled down quickly in early evening. After dinner we walked along the street and heard La Marseillaise, or the French anthem being played.

When we got closer, we saw older men with medals on their shirts carrying French flags, as well as a few women, while a military band played. The ceremony was quickly over after that and many people dispersed.

Remembering those fighting against Hitler
Some people explained to us that it was on this day in 1944 that two members of the resistance were caught by the Nazis and were hung on the lamp post on the two adjacent corners and made people in the town parade past them to show they were an example.

White flowers with ribbons in blue, red and white were laid on the ground, while others placed red carnations at the two spots. The plaques gave the names of the two men who died, and paintings of their portraits were placed there for the ceremony.

It was interesting to see that though two people died here, they were remembered even to this day. It also shows how much people here hated Hitler, as the plaque says his name and not the Nazis.

Soon after we heard jazz playing further down the street to find the Nice Jazz Festival has just gotten underway today until July 12. The line up includes people like Jamie Cullum, Lauryn Hill, Jason Moran, and Kool and the Gang.

Children have fun playing in the water park near the square
Across the street is a water park and children had a great time playing with the mist and water fountains that spewed out of the black slate. We may head there tomorrow to beat the heat!

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