Saturday, August 2, 2014

A bit of catching up

Well, we're on vacation, but I realize I haven't been a good correspondant for a long time, so I'll bring you up to date in several short posts before actually posting about this trip.
At the end of May, beginning of June we went to visit Emma and then to Six-Fours and Avignon. I think that's where I left off, except for the brief announcement of our new granddaughter, Chloé.
Towards the end of June, I attended the Pixar concert - a live orchestral performance of music from several Pixar animated films. It was at the Palais des Congrès, in Paris, which is a big concert hall of around 3000 seats. It wasn't packed, but there was a good sized crowd. And such a young crowd. Of course, one would expect a young crowd for music from animated film, but I was impressed. I was sitting in the middle, but a bit too far up to have a good view of the orchestra. I had a great view of the screen which was showing extracts from the various films as the music was being played. The performance was excellent and I had a particularly good time watching the audience around me. First of all, there was an MC. He announced that the youngest member of the audience was just two and the oldest had just turned a hundred. He then marveled that the music we were going to hear was from several composers. It was clear that he was not too familiar with orchestras and that they perform music from different composers in concert.  He then introduced the first violin, who was cheered on to stage. The orchestra tuned and the conductor came out, again to cheers. I'd never seen such an enthusiastic audience and they cheered and clapped and whistled at the end of each piece, so much that I mistook the intermission for the end of the concert for a second. It was really fun to see and hear their content. I bet back in the romantic composers' days it was like that. I grew up in a time of well-behaved audiences and it's really much more fun when everyone can express their happiness. Another thing that surprised me was that I had seen every one of the films, except two.
Later that week, Pickar cousins started arriving for their week in Provence. K & S spent a couple of days with us, at home; we had dinner with J. T. the first evening and then with our kids on the second. On Friday, J treated us to the Paris 1900 exhibit at the Petit Palais. That's a good exhibit and the Petit Palais is, itself, part of the show since it is a perfect example of the period. There were pictures of the World's Fair on the Champs de Mars and the Petit and Grand Palais; Art Nouveau posters; Sevres porcelaine; Daum and Lalique glassware; fine workworked furniture and more. On Saturday, K & S were joined by B and his kids at the Gare de Lyon for the TGV to Avignon, where they picked up a couple of vans and went to Rousillon, where they had a rented a house nearby for the week. J and son, M, joined them on Sunday, flying down from London; S's sister and her daughter, L, flew into Marseilles and rented a car to join them. B's friend also flew in to Marseille and I drove down from home on Thursday.
It was stupid of me to drive down. I had thought of taking the train and renting a car, but there was a train strike and I put that plan aside and chose to drive. I didn't think fast enough that the SNCF strike was over and I could go back to plan A. So I drove. It's a pleasant, but long drive. I pulled into Roussillon just before 5 and checked into my hotel. The Pickars had spent the day at a lake, so I rested a bit until K picked me up for dinner. Their house was just a couple of km. from the town. We drove through lavendar fields to get there. The lavendar was in full bloom, not yet ready for harvesting -- a beautiful deep purple. Adding me to the gang made us a group of 13! We had a very nice barbecue dinner and K drove me back to the hotel.
On Friday, first of all, I woke up with a message that Chloé had been born! I drove myself over to their place and received all the mazel tovs that a grandparent should. The idea that we'd be off by 10 got dropped and we managed to leave by 11. We went to Arles. They had seen the Pont du Gard, but I thought they could do with some more Roman ruins, so we walked around Arles to the Antique Theater and the Arena. We had a light lunch and decided not to take in the Van Gogh things. We had stopped at a field of sunflowers on the way there. It was getting a bit late and the objective of the day was on the way back.
We stopped at Les-Baux-de-Provence to see the exhibit/show at the Carrières de Lumières. P and G had told us about this when we saw them earlier in the month. It's an old quarry that has been transformed into a sound and light show. Last year, apparently, the theme was the Impressionists. This year, it's Klimt and the Vienna School of Art. It's a fantastic show. They project the paintings on the quarry walls and floor and play music from the same period. You walk around the quarry, taking in the views, stopping and looking as the paintings come and go. We were in there, in the cool, for well over an hour.
Saturday, everyone had to leave by 9 as the first to catch a plane from Marseilles had to get there to check in and some had to catch their TGV from Avignon, too. I went over, and because I had the car, I got to take home the wonderful left-overs, some of which I had for lunch on my drive back up, the rest of which we spent the week finishing. I'm sorry I didn't see more of Roussillon, especially the walk along the ochre pits.
I drove straight to Paris to meet Chloé.

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