France

On August 24th, 2011, LA FONTAINE D’EAU CHAUDE…

La Fontaine d’eau Chaude, Aix-en-Provence, 1734

…the 1734 mossy mossy mossy green fountain on Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence where everyone is welcome to enjoy a peaceful primitive moment (despite it’s unfortunate current circumstance as the center of a miniature traffic circle), makes you feel fresh just looking at it, even though it is fed by hot springs – cool, I really want one of those.

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On August 23rd, 2011, AIX-EN-PROVENCE…

La Place d’Albertas, Aix-en-Provence

…my next stop this afternoon as I gradually make my way by train south from meetings in the Netherlands to a long awaited pilgrimage to Italy’s mysterious heel of Puglia (before continuing on to autumn obligations for projects and talks in Istanbul, London, Den Haag, Reno, Philadelphia, Princeton, New York, Budapest, Sofia, Lodz) – and having never been to Aix – and since the TGV comes here non-stop from Paris – and being curious about the local landscape, and agriculture, and food – here I am – and the first place I happen upon is the pretty lovely La Place d’Albertas, mostly because it is paved entirely in big rough round rocks, like the wilderness has come into the center of town unrefined, a little quiet glimmer of what I was hoping for here amongst the otherwise bourgeois filled boutiques and well heeled end of season tourist mobs.

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On August 22nd, 2011, GRAND APPETIT…

Grand Appetit, Paris

…the simple casual homey delicious macrobiotic Marais cafe established in 1980, where you feel like you are dropping by your very cool exotic earthy French aunt and uncle’s place for a fresh vegan homemade lunch (bus your own dishes!) – is my Parisian culinary salvation at whose front door I was hungrily waiting at noon today for them to finally re-open from the August holiday – to dine on a nourishing plate of beans and grains and fresh vegetables – yum – now to be my Paris Souen, the place I have a hard time not eating every meal at when in NYC.

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On August 21st, 2011, ARTAZART DESIGN BOOKSTORE…

Artazart Design Bookstore, Paris

…on Canal St. Martin in my new favorite Paris neighborhood of Bellevue is a welcome find this afternoon – again biking my way to all corners of town – where contemporary art, design, photography materials are a welcome jolt of inspiration in a town otherwise shuttered for the month, and I wish every neighborhood had such a relaxed booky arty place to drop into any time. (website)

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By Fritz Haeg on August 21, 2011 | books, Paris
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On August 20th, 2011, PLACE DES VOSGES…

people enjoying the lawns of Place des Vosges

…in the Marais is just around the corner from where I’m staying, so I like to bike (having subscribed to the Vélib’ bikeshare program I am spending all of my Parisian street time on two wheels) through the majestic/hidden portal off Rue de Rivoli no matter which way I’m headed to enjoy this grand outdoor room – and today seeing the sprawling mass of humanity making themselves at home on a Sunday afternoon is the best case for a bright green carpet of lawn in just right place.

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On August 19th, 2011, PLAGE ON THE SIENE IN PARIS…

Paris Plage picnic on the Seine

…is the ambitious summer civic project involving sandy beaches, colorful umbrellas, a swimming pool, striped cabanas, exotic palm trees, lounge chairs, and all of the August seaside pleasures of the Riviera delivered to the middle of the city for the beach-hungry Parisians stuck in town, and the fun part was seeing how seriously they received and participated in the illusion with elaborate picnics, suntan oil, tiny bikinis…

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By Fritz Haeg on August 19, 2011 | Paris
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On August 18th, 2011, A LITTLE HUT AND LITTLE DOCK…

what you can't see in this ideal picture is the constant swarm of wasps, and the one that just stung me

…on this little lake in the woods nearby, where we are spending our days in the sun and water, are each big enough for one – maybe two people – and I’m starting to think that this is all I could ever need – and what more could we want for a quiet August retreat?

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By Fritz Haeg on August 18, 2011 | France
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On August 17th, 2011, A SMALL PURPLE MUSHROOM…

little purple mushroom sitting in the French woods

…which we are later told might perhaps be edible, stops me on my afternoon hike from the lake, down the hill, through the woods, a shock of subtle but extravagant color in the relentless green around us here.

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By Fritz Haeg on August 17, 2011 | landscape
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On August 16th, 2011, A SNAIL ON MY PATH…

escargot

…this morning is slowly making it’s way from one side of the boardwalk to the other and catching my eye – as I am drawn to smaller and slower things here in the woods.

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By Fritz Haeg on August 16, 2011 | animals
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On August 15th, 2011, FAST AND SLOW TRAINS TO HAUTE SAONE….

Gare de L'Est and a view from my regional train car into the eastern French wilderness

…took me from Amsterdam to Paris Gare du Nord in a speedy comfy fancy wified Thalys ride, then to a quaint modest pokey regional car out of Gare de L’Est to this hilly wooded region of Eastern France where I’ll be quietly retreating, doing yoga, reading, and checking out.

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On June 30th, 2011, TEATRO DELLE ESPOSIZIONI 2 AT VILLA MEDICI…

the mysterious couple from the show, and Villa Medici with St. Peter's in the background

…which I arrived to from an earlier opening at Unosunove this magical warm summer evening by bicycle – locked up below at Piazza di Spagna to hoof it up the 132 Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti steps for shows presented by the French Academy fellows incluing films, a wandering bassoonist, an installation in the magnificent Islamic room on top of one of the towers, carefully arranged and spotlit plaster statues and period furniture in studio windows, (ugh, we missed the naked hula hooping performance from the Monday show) the highlight being an elaborate performance by Rémy Yadan in the formal salone overlooking the city where a cast of around ten formally dressed performers arrived – the rest remaining impossible to describe, but involving standing around for a long time making subtle tsking noises, moving a piano around, walking hurriedly across the room, operatic singing, energetic dancing, monologs directed face to face at particular audience members in French, opening of windows and then closing of windows, mooing, crying with backs to us, and towards the end, the doors to the terrace overlooking the city opened and in walked a mysterious couple who proceeded to walk out of the room onto the the back loggia where they stood still for the rest of the evening – so people looked at them and took pictures – some were mystified, especially those who hadn’t even seen the show.

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On September 28th, 2010, LES JARDINS FRUITIERS DE LAQUENEXY…

the rows of apple trees at Jardins Fruitiers de Laquenexy, France

…just outside of Metz, France is where I headed after landing in nearby Luxembourg – joining a reception that was part of the garden conference I have come to speak at tomorrow – but instead of spending time where I was supposed to (in the very elaborate new manicured gardens), I spent an hour wandering though the hypnotic corridors of the old apple and pear orchards, with every row, and sometimes every tree, offering a different exotic, unique, never-tasted-or-seen-by-me variety – that literaly made me tear up with with emotion as I tasted my way from tree to tree laden with just ripe fruit – and smoke wafting in the distance from a recent bonfire – oh, and parenthetically, I saw the new Centre Pompidou-Metz, but the pears were so much better. (more info on the gardens)

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By Fritz Haeg on September 28, 2010 | agriculture, France
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