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After having spent a little over a year so far in France, one of the most culturally widespread obsessions I have observed so far has to be “les vacances.” Suffice to say, I can recall memories of discussing summer vacations with random strangers as early as March. With every employee entitled to 5 weeks of vacation, it didn’t take much to convert me to the French system. This summer, I was determined to join the club, and discover one of the most popular french vacation destinations, “La Corse.”
Having already spent several vacations in the south of France (Nice, Monaco, the Camargue etc) , I was preparing myself for gorgeous coastlines cluttered with extravagant villas. Someone was very pleasantly surprised.
Corsica, with its history of terrorism and strong sense of Corsican identity, was a world away from la promenade des anglais. My boyfriend was happy to inform me upon arrival in Ajaccio that a gas station had been blown up the day before (in Ajaccio) by those manifesting their separatist inclinations. A nice warm welcome, eh?
And yet despite what I had heard (that Corsicans poopoo mainland frenchies), I was greeted by very sweet locals in Propriano, Tizzano, Bonifacio and Porto Vecchio, and I was completely enveloped in a preserved savage beauty on every part of the island I visited.
The island was a cornucopia of natural beauty that included crystal clear water, sandy beaches, imposing cliffs at it’s most southern tip, quaint mountain and beach towns, and a range of solid rock mountains with turquoise colored rivers flowing out of them.
An outdoorsman’s/woman’s paradise, one week was way to short to do the whole island. Not only do you need time to discover the flore and fauna, but there are also all kinds of sport activities available to do. Mainly water sports (scuba diving, snorkling, wakeboarding, waterskiing, wind surfing etc) but also horse-back riding, cycling, rock climbing, and running. In a seven days, I was only able to cover the entire southern region, leaving the north’s treasures for another trip!
And if the nature wasn’t good enough….let me just briefly recount the eats…
- DIVINE goat cheese (taste between a great parmesan and a salty feta) otherwise known in Corsica as “tomme de brebis”
- Tangy Rosé wine (local of course)
- Sweet and perfectly ripe cataloupe
- Deliciously salty jambon ( a dried ham – see photo)
- And last but not least – amazing seafood of all kinds!
Check out my photos of some Corsica goodness, and I added a wee map for those thinking of checking out the same sites!
A far cry from documentary photography, the photo exhibition presented by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France entitled “Rose, c’est Paris,” by Bettina Rheims and Serge Bramly, is an erotic black and white surrealist fantasy. Taking place across the patchwork landscape of Paris – Montmartre, Palais de Justice, the Observatory – one follows the fictional search of “B.” a blond bombshell trying to uncover the wherabouts of her twin sister Rose.
Bramly’s narrative is spun throughout four short intriguing movie segments which present a series of small enigmatic theories regarding what happened to Rose – kidnapping, victim of a conspiracy, an affair gone wrong – each providing a context for the mysterious and often haunted photos of Ms. Rheims. B. encounters the likes of a volutoptous Monica Belucci, a stoic and almost frumpy Charlotte Rampling, a haughty Valerie Lemercier and an Ines Sastre as hindu dancer…characters that also represent the intimate circle of friends of Rheims and Bramly.
B. and the ghost of Rose appear more often naked than clothed, and a provocative nudity abounds in these edgy photos…enough to redden the cheeks. Yet despite its weird and blatant display of female sexuality, there is a certain preservation of the classical beauty of the naked female form. The body seems to always remain the center focus of the photos, drawing the viewer in with its milky white contrast to the gray and black shadows of Paris.
There is also an unmistakable harkening to Marcel Duchamp, a French Dadaist of the early 1900′s, with it’s title “Rose, c’est Paris,” and Duchamp’s fictive character Rrose Selavy (Rose c’est la vie). One photo exclusively mentions the artist in its title while displaying the ghost of Rose or B. languidly lying amonst the most banal utillitarian objects found in a warehouse such as lightbulbs, electric cords, and planks of wood.
However more subtly is Rheims photograph of a nude woman stopping the timer as she wins a chess game against a man looking suspiciously a lot like Mr. Duchamp in a photo he posed in for photographer Julian Wasser.
The mystery, the audacity, the creativity, and the intrigue of Rheims and Bramly’s photography trump the daily grind and bustle of Paris and revive the capital as a place full of questions and curiosities that have no answers, a sensual city that is not without its cruelness, and moreover a place that nourishes and inspires the artist’s soul.
Rose, c’est Paris
Richelieu (Metro Bourse)
Tuesday-Saturday from 10h to 19h
Sunday from 12h-19h
Adult 7 euros
Under 26, 5 euros