As with most things in life, events happen for reasons unknown to us at the time they occur. Such was my first stay in the italianate town of Menton, France. In a short period of time, I found peace and opportunity for reflection. My first apartment in the old town, located up MANY steep winding stairs and narrow walkways, perfectly removed me from the hubbub and crowds of the summer activity in the town. Activity was there for the taking, but easily left behind, retreating to the quiet and cool confines of my apartment. When one discovers a spot in the world that is right for them, there are no bounds to personal discovery. As an artist, I was looking for inspiration for my work and the “light” so often spoken about by the Impressionist painters of the 19th century. I found the “light” in Menton. Turns out, some of my best work is done when in France. However,these days I mostly write for my column in the magazine Kenilworth Life and take loads of pictures while there.
In my blogs, I will revisit my first impressions, early experiences and the one-woman art show I was allowed to mount by the City of Menton; I consider the “early” years as being 1994-1998. Some things have changed, however those were the years that sealed my desire to return again and again, fueling my passion for the Cote d’Azur and Provence. So, here goes with my very first thrilling moment…….
After being collected at the church of St. Michel square, with help, I proceeded to “haul” my luggage into the inner sanctuary of Menton’s vieille ville. It was at this very point in time I knew I had grossly over packed and definitely over-dressed for the beastly hot weather. After a cup of tea, I was escorted next door. My front door was directly on the stone walkway. Walkways twist and turn throughout the vieille ville. I was to learn that the entrances to apartments can be misleading, mysterious, sometimes having no obvious relationship to the apartments actual position; a veritable rabbit’s warren. But mine turned out to be straightforward. Very steep stairs rose up before me. (“Steep” is an apt description of everything in the interior of the old town.) All of the meters for gas and electricity, etc. are in the entrance area; never touch any of them! As the locked door was opened I entered into a room with two sets of closed tall dark green shutters.
As the shutters were opened, the panoramic view of Mediterranean Sea and Italy appeared before my jet lagged eyes. I honestly felt weak in the knees. It was if I had entered a movie set or the Cote d’Azur atelier of one of the Impressionist painters. Renoir and many other artists had looked out over the tops of red tiled roofs as I was doing at that moment. The view was more than I had dared hoped for. As an artist, I wanted a view through shuttered windows where the colors, sun drenched landscapes and spirit of the Cote d’Azur could come in and touch my soul; where the light, the blue of the sea and sky would inspire me as it had the masters so many years before. I had hopes of capturing the “light” on my canvases. The red tiled rooftops were almost close enough to touch. Could that really be Italy just over there? I began my journey wanting to look through shuttered windows to the Cote d’Azur. Et voila—-there was that very view—-right outside my tall shiny green shutters.
So, that’s how it began. To this very day, I can conjure my first feelings standing there and know full well I am so fortunate to be able to continue to visit the place I most love. (Although, as you will see in time where I stay has changed.) But, that disclosure is after many posts.