Cannes Festival Finale 2014

FilmFest2014

Tonight is the night.

Any moment now, Jane Campion's Cannes Film Festival 2014 jury will decide who will grab the coveted Palme d’Or. 

Beyond the razzmatazz, the film festival has featured a tantalizing set of films. The final decision won't be an easy one.

In Competition – Feature Films

For a brief preview for my personal favorite contender to the Palme d'Or, Winter Sleep:

 

To follow the Film Festival program and results, head to the official festival site: http://www.festival-cannes.fr/

FilmFest2014End


Cannes Glows in the Winter

AzurAlive: Cannes Glows this Winter

Cannes might be glamorous during the Film Festival, exciting under the summer sun, but on a sunny winter's day, it glows.

In this late December season, as soon as the sun rays shine, everyone strolls about the Croisette. Some simply sit on a blue chair and soak in the changing sea and sky until the sun sets. Others bring their children to the merry go rounds. Others make their way from one end of the Croisette to the other, then back. Cannes is relaxing. 

It's vacation time for many cannois, and a beautiful time to savor the sites under this special winter's light. 

AzurAlive: Cannes, France

 


Cannes: Film Festival Fun

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Cannes Film Fest

Cannes is about to go nutty! 

The 66th edition of the Cannes film festival makes a splash from May 15 to 26, 2013.

The Feature

The festival begins with a jazzy classic, The Great Gatsby, with Leonardo diCaprio and Carey Mulligan. The 3-D lavish film is director Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1920s novel set on the French Riviera.

But the film has already opened to mixed reviews in the US, so some of the buzz has fizzled. 

The Palme d'Or

Spielberg
Possibly more exciting are the films competing for the Palme d'Or. This year, 23 movies compete for the coveted title, and Steven Spielberg heads the jury. We'll know the winner on May 26.

Palm d'Or contenders include "Steven Soderbergh's "Behind the Candelabra" with Michael Douglas as famous pianist Liberace and Matt Damon as lover Thorson. Soderbergh claims his movie was turned down by Hollywood as being "too gayish". Let the controversy begin. 
Also to be screened are “Le Passé” or "The Past" by Iran’s Asghar Farhadi,  “Like Father, Like Son” or "Soshite Chich Ni Naru" by Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda. And finally... the lone woman director selected to compete: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, sister of former French first lady Carla Bruni, directs “Un Chateau en Italie”.

For the Un Certain Regard sideline, Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring," portrays Hollywood teenagers who obsess over celebrities and burglarize their homes. 

There's always plenty of fun at the more accessible Out of Competition films. Head down to the Theatre Lumière and on the beach at the Cinéma de la Plage for those. Films include J.C. Chandor's All is Lost with Robert Reford and Hiroshima Mon Amour from Alain Resnais. Blood Ties – Guillaume Canet

As usual, expect the Cannes Film Festival to fill the city with glitz, extravagance, excitement. 

Cheers diCaprio!


Walks in Cannes

Cannes, French Riviera: Walking La Croisette

The New York Times agrees, Cannes is great for strolling. (see NY Times article on best walks in Cannes).

The NYTimes' Top Walks in Cannes?

La Croisette, not surprisingly. The seaside promenade along the Bay of Cannes is the most photographed part of town. We enjoy it most in the late evening, when the sun sets and the city lights begin to glow.

The old town quarters of Le Suquet perched up above the port with its steep cobblestone streets (warnig: high heels nightmare!), its quaint restaurants, large and animated Forville marché and the Musée de la Castre for its incredible views.

AzurAlive's Top Walk around Cannes? :

Island of Saint Honorat, French Riviera, photo by La Tonnelle
The Island of St Honorat, a lush green jewel just beyond the Bay of Cannes. This rare and protected island is home to a monastery of the cistercian congregation. Monks live and work there in silence, cultivating plots of land, caring for the 19 acres or so of vines (Chardonnay, Clairette, Syrah, Mourvedre and recent Pinot Noir grape varieties).

Respectful visitors are welcome on the island, and it's a treat to walk along its footpaths. Set aside about 3 hours to soak in the sites of St Honorat, the scents of the sea, the pine needles, the flowers. And why not reserve a table for lunch at the main restaurant on the island, La Tonnelle.

It's a 20-mins ferry hop over from the old port of Cannes. Check out the current ferry schedule to St Honorat.

St Honorat Island, from their Facebook Photos


 


Beach: Plages du Midi, Golfe-Juan Beaches

AzurAlive.com: Plage du Midi, Golfe-Juan

They're popular in the summer. After October, they hibernate. They're warm as the bay that hosts them is shielded from most winds, tucked behind the Antibes cape to the East and the Sainte-Marguerite island to the South-West. They're the sandy beaches of Golfe-Juan. 

Golfe-Juan sports a stretch of 3 kilometers of sand. Not a large stretch, mind you. And that's my main issue with the Golfe-Juan beaches. They're OK, but narrow, squeezed between the Mediterranean Sea and the railroad tracks. This crowds them to tears during the peak season mid-July to mid-August.
Plus they don't have the charm of smaller (still crowded) beaches of Antibes or Beaulieu, for example. That has kept them off our "Best Beaches" of the French Riviera list. 

But... we're willing to make an exception after a repeated positive experience with a slice of beach.

AzurAlive.com: Plage du Midi, Golfe-Juan

Why? 

The Golfe-Juan Plage du Midi beach makes an elbow as it reaches the side of Camille Rayon Port. That beach feels roomier. From the angle, you see the coast covered with bright beach umbrellas and towels. You're not necessarily crammed into this one and you get a nice view too.

And since a good beach day means a good overall experience, we think some of the restaurants are good to great. Not all of them are worth a review, but we're partial to the Bistro du Port for their excellent fish. Try their Plat du Jour daily selection for around 15€ at lunch (summer 2012 prices). They're a little further out in the old port. And right on the beach, Passoa Beach is also good. 

As with most beaches on the French Riviera, the beaches of Golfe-Juan are parcelled out into private and public sections. The private sections of beach rent out lounge chairs with plush mats and umbrellas for a half-day or day. At the edge of the Camille Rayon Port, you'll find chairs and mats for rent at the Le Vieux Rocher restaurant and lounge and at the So... Beach or at the Passoa Beach. This 2012 Summer, they rent for about 14€. But you can also place your beach towel on a free piece of public beach to the side. 

AzurAlive.com: Plage du Midi, Golfe-Juan

We would not drive out of the way to reach them, but if you're in the area, try the beach out for a day to recharge those batteries. 

Where?

At the eastern edge of the new port of Golfe-Juan, the Camille Rayon port.


View AzurAlive.com: Plage du Midi, Golfe-Juan in a larger map


Férnand Léger Museum: Cubism to Tubism

FLegerMuseum
Hidden behind parasol pines at the entrance of the village of Biot, the Férnand Léger Museum is entirely devoted to the works of the French artist Férnand Léger (1881-1955). 

As a young child, Férnand Léger displayed a talent for drawing, a talent which he refined and which later permeated his art work. He studied architecture and began working as an architectural draughtsman. But at the age of 25, he began to work as a painter, showing influences of Impressionism but soon focusing more on geometrical shapes and drawing. 

Colors
"Man needs colour to live; it's just as necessary an element as fire and water." -F.Leger

What strikes first upon entering the airy museum are the colors. Leger worked extensively with primary colors and geometric shapes. As a painter, Léger greatly influenced the Cubism movement but expanded beyond the artistic style. He developed a personal version of cubism with dynamic cylindrical shapes. The art critic Louis Vauxcelles called (with a touch of sarcasm) this particular style "Tubism".

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One of his most famous paintings of this era is La Femme en Bleu (Woman in Blue) painted in 1912 (above).

GdRemorqueur
"Enormous enlargements of an object or a fragment give it a personality it never had before" -Léger

Léger's style evolved over time. After his brutal experience as a soldier in World War I, Léger moved to a more stylized rendering of objects and then to more depiction of machines and mechanisms. One of my favorite piece is Le Grand Remorqueur (above) with its giant ship set in a modern town and its rendition of slow tilting motion. 

During World War II, Léger lived and worked in the US. He was fascinated by the modern urban landscape. He taught briefly at Yale University and at Mills College. 

"The object in modern painting must become the main character and overthrow the subject." - Léger

More about the Museum:

The Musée National Fernand Léger is open year-round outside of Tuesdays, December 25, January 1 and May 1. 

From November to April: Open 10AM to 5PM
From May to October:    Open 10AM to 6PM

As of May 2012, full-fare entrance is €5.50. Check with the museum web site for current price.

Leger1
Where to eat:

In the museum's gardens, a small snack pictured above offers drinks and basic food. It's pleasant for its surroundings. But you'll find more delicious food in the village of Biot just above.

How to get there:

By public transportation, you'll need to catch the train to the village of Biot and then the bus (Envibus) fLine 10 from the train station to the museum. This Envibus Ligne 10 actually starts its route at the Antibes train station so if you're in Antibes, it's even easier. 

 


Cap d'Antibes Can Temporarily Close

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On occasion, when the wind picks up and the sea turns furious, sections of the otherwise peaceful coastal path of the French Riviera can shut down to pedestrian traffic. 

This was the case with the gorgeous Cap d'Antibes "Tire-Poil" trail a couple of weeks ago. The footpath takes you around a section of this exclusive cape and we highly recommend the hike when the weather cooperates. We've written more about it here.

The footpath was closed to pedestrians late April, due to the Mistral wind blowing hard.

TooDangerous

It's difficult to imagine this footpath as anything near a "Very Dangerous Walk" under normal circumstances. The path meanders along the small beaches just after the Pointe de la Garoupe, on the side of white limestone cliffs and all along the Millionaires' Bay. When the sea becomes turbulent, the path turns slippery and waves can whip it violently. 

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If the wind howls, avoid the coastal path. And if you're unsure about a potential closure, you can always contact the Tourism Office. For Antibes, contact the Office de Tourisme 


Cannes Croisette Carpet of Light

Cannes' Croisette Sets the Mood with LED Lights

In Cannes on the French Riviera, the Croisette rolls its red carpet every night and not just around the Cannes Festival. It's a carpet of energy-friendly LED lights, over 1,500 of them strung along the seaside Croisette promenade.

They come alive at night, changing to play with the colors of the sun as it sets behind the Mediterranean Sea. It's a symphony in red, blue, purple, yellow. It's a mood. Not overwhelming the scenery but highlighting it. If you visit, pull up a metallic chair and enjoy the show.

The Croisette Lightens Up

 


How we see Antibes

Everyone sees Antibes differently. To some, it's all about ancient history with Antibes' Greek origins as Antipolis; to others, it's a parking lot to display over-sized yachts; to others, it's an active and quaint old French Riviera town filled with cafés and colorful open markets. To a few, it's simply home.

Yesterday, while strolling around the old town of Antibes, my son and I each snapped a couple of pictures.

Here's what struck me about Antibes that day:

My Antibes, French Riviera

And what struck my son about it:

His Antibes, French Riviera

To each of us our own!

 


Thorenc To Hike

ThoBeau 
It has been said that the most stunning views of the region above Grasse in souteastern France is from the top of Pic de l'Aiglo. With a statement like that, we had to check it out.
 
And so we began our hike from the village of Thorenc with high spirits.

Tucked at the bottom of the mountain range that runs straight like a rock wall, Thorenc sits quietly with its mairie, its office du tourisme, its friendly country store and its auberge des merisiers (closed when we visited)  lined up on main street. In the late 19C and early 20C, the village drew many well-to-do families from Nice looking to escape the heat of summer on the French Riviera and to invigorate lungs and spirits in the lush mountainous sites around Thorenc.

Egliserusse 
Russians loved the region during that time, and a old wooden Orthodox church still bears witness to their presence. Today, the village appears peaceful and awaiting summer when more visitors enjoy it. We were surprised by the number of "For Sale" signs on the beautiful large homes that surround the village.

Onwards with our hike by the Maison Forestière de Bleyne, then up through lush green hills...
ThorencPlain 
We follow the sign (post 105) toward the Pic d'Aiglo...
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and are soon rewarded with a gorgeous viewpoint:

Thorenc 
 
We continue up, following the sign for "Gréolières"...
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Thorenc Pine Trees

and enjoy the coolness that the surrounding pine trees provide. Another short leg up to reach the crestline...

Thorenc Heading to Pic de l'Aiglo 
At the top, beyond the underground green water cistern, sheers drop straight down to open up all-around views. Be very careful here, especially if you visit over snow. You see the plains of Thorenc and the Loup Valley, the Audibergue mountain and the snow-capped mountains of the Mercantour. Straight ahead, you spot the site of Casteleras topped with ruins of its ancient oppidum.
Thorenc at Pic de l'Aiglo 
At 1644 meters, Pic de l'Aiglo is one of the high points on the Estéron mountain east of St Auban.

We took the 15 km (round-trip) hike, but you could take a shortcut. Begin at the Col de Bleine (1439 m) and follow the yellow-marked trail and signs to Col de l'Aiglo.

This hike is fine in the late spring, most of summer (not on hot days) and gorgeous in the fall when leaves turn fiery red. Snow won't slow down the pros - they'll just wear snow shoes and plan their day to ensure a safe return ahead of sunset.

How long is the hike? From the Col de Bleine to the Pic de l'Aiglo and back, it's 5 km for a 2-hour hike.

Yes, it's a gentle slope up and a short hike. But as with any hike, you are responsible for your safety: always leave prepared. You're in mountain territory here. Check on weather - it's always cooler around Thorenc than on the French Riviera and dark clouds do come & go suddenly in the mountains, dropping the temperature as they block the sun or on occasion dropping buckets of water! Take water, snacks, cell phone & additional clothing and give yourself plenty of extra time to return before nightfall.

Hiking by Thorenc