Trip to La Colle sur Loup

When we first looked at properties to buy on the Cote d’Azur we quickly found a charming house in La Colle sur Loup, a pretty village just down the road from Saint Paul de Vence, which seemed to fit the bill. We pondered long and hard but eventually decided against it as it was a corner property, without a view, on what has become a much busier road. However it’s one of our neighbouring villages, home to one of our favourite restaurants, we enjoy visiting its Jazz evenings during the summer and its other festivals throughout the year.

I few months back I’d spotted it was having a Franco-German festival which we decided to visit. The festival – someone selling vin chaud and bretzels- was a decided let down, but it was fun to reaquaint ourselves with this tranquil and charming place, enjoy coffee and cake in one of its many cafes, plus purchase fruit and vegetables from its Saturday market stall.

A former medieval community, La Colle sur Loup was home to a feudal lord in the 16th century. Consequently, there are plenty of buildings of historical significance such as a 12th century Canadel priory now converted into a restaurant (L’Abbaye) which still has a fortified gateway, corner towers, cloisters and a listed Romanesque chapel. Plus, at the entrance to the village, you’ll find its 17th century Eglise de Saint Jacques Le Majeur which has wonderful stained glass windows and a square bell tower. The place also boasts 16th century Chateau de Montfort and Le Gaudelet, a hunting lodge with a Renaissance facade from the same era.

I like to wander through the village’s historic centre, with its narrow alleyways and lively shopping streets, which has shady little squares with fountains and honey-coloured stone buildings with wonderful carved doors. Formerly renowned for its production of rose perfume – celebrated annually with its Fetes des Roses –  today it’s better known for its antique dealers and decorators, and also for its fine restaurants. In addition, the village has always attracted artists and artisans, such as Yves Klein, the founder of the New Realists, who is buried here, Jacques Ferrandez the well-known cartoon strip artist, the architect Yves Bayard and Raoul Giodan, another cartoon strip artist.

Lying on the river Loup, the village’s surrounding forest is one of its greatest attractions, providing an oasis of cool and peace in the summer months. Activities abound, it’s a mecca for outdoor ones. You can ride horses, cycle, kayak, canoe, hike or fish for trout- or just spend the day with a picnic – you know how the French love to picnic – in one of its two public parks. There’s also a children’s amusement park and a local sports ground.  It’s well worth a visit, perhaps combined with a trip to neighbouring Saint Paul de Vence.

What a lovely surprise!

Typically, I don’t like surprises. I’m a bit of a control freak and like to manage everything in my universe, that way I can deal with anything life throws at me. However, there are exceptions and I’m going to tell you about a very recent one.

I’ve been following the “paintdigi” blog for some time and much admire the work of its owner Ahmed Alozade who presents amazing digital art, along with some beautiful photographs.

This week Ahmed left me a message on my blog:

You are one of my friends and readers most faithful to my site and my art.
To thank you, I invite you to visit the article reserved for you alone, you will find a surprise: “for my premium readers”
Here is the password to view the article:
Welcome my dear friend

Not unnaturally, I was intrigued and visited Ahmed’s page to see three variations of a digital painting. He asked me to pick my favourite, give it a name and in return he would send me a copy of it.What a lovely surprise!

I called the picture below “Reflective” and I’ll explain why.

I thought maybe the painting was a self-portrait, it’s hard to tell because on his blog the only picture of Ahmed shows him wearing glasses. He’s wearing a loose and flowing blue garment, maybe a djellabah though those tend to be lighter in colour. He’s standing in front of a painting of what look like mountains, maybe the Atlas Mountains which run through Morocco? Behind that looks like a map of the world. There’s lots more going on in the picture. For example, does Ahmed have wings? Are those dark shapes at the bottom of the picture more mountains? Anyway, I decided it was a painting of Ahmed thinking of his home country and hence called it “Reflective.” Perhaps Ahmed can explain below in the comments below.

You’ll note that Ahmed has kindly signed and named the painting (and sent me a certificate of authentication) which I’m going to have printed onto high-quality paper, then I’ll frame it and hang it on my wall. Everytime I pass the painting I’ll think about Ahmed’s kind and thoughtful act.

I can’t claim to have a wide circle of acquaintances from the Magreb but the few I know are all like Ahmed, kind and thoughtful.