Sunday, May 24, 2009
france-1969 part 7

There was so much to see and do there in and around Antibes, and Cannes, and in some of The Hill Towns, too, which were all pretty close.....One early morning I got up at dawn so I could go to the Antibes Outdoor Flower Market....My French was not very good at all, but I did try to communicate in French and the people were always so very sweet to me, and grateful that I was trying to speak the language of their country.....The Flower Market was filled with gorgeous fresh flowers of all kinds., and I bought some and brought them back to the house. (I did not take the picture above....But it really looked just like that at the Antibes Flower Market...)The night of that very first Moon landing, we were at a restaurant in Cannes, called "Felix", sitting on their outdoor patio. We could see the moon as we sat there having our dinner, and it was awesome to consider that some men were actually going to be landing on that moon just as we would be finishing our dinner. I mean it was quite extraordinary. I remember thinking, what was this like for Daddy Joe? This little boy coming from Latvia around 1906 on a boat in steerage that no doubt took three weeks to get to New in abject poverty as a child and then living out 'The American Dream'. What must he be thinking as we sit here in Cannes looking at this beautiful moon and knowing these men were about to land---Well, it was right out of 'Buck Rogers'. After dinner, we went next door to an Art Gallery called Gallery 65, where there was a particular show my father wanted to see, and they had the TV on, and we watched the landing on the moon right there in Gallery 65 in Cannes...........This was an amazingly exciting moment in time....By the time Neil Armstrong actually took his first steps on the Moon we were back at the house...and that was even more extraordinary----Watching this historic moment on French television was kind of surreal. The Astronauts were speaking English in the background but we couldn't really hear them because the sound of the Astronauts talking had been turned waaaaay down and the commentators were all speaking French, of course....That was truly surreal, but still it was fabulous......We watched into the wee hours of the morning.....One early morning Olga and I went to Vence to see The Matisse Chapel---of course she had seen it all many times before, but she wanted me to be sure to see it, too. It is a very Beautiful and Sacred place that also happens to be a great tourist attraction because of the amazing display of the Art of Matisse and of his versatility as an Artist. All of the "art" there is by Matisse....Like the 'faces' above.....And the beautiful Iron work in this door, above......And the stained glass windows in the Chapel itself, (above)....Everything: the tiles, the furniture, every detail of this unique chapel----all of it created by Matisse. It is such a beautiful place---It kind of takes your breath away. That is the bottom of the Cross, that is sitting on top of the building in the picture above....Here below is a picture of the whole Cross.....Again, it was entirely Matisse's design.....This special Chapel is one of the Jewels of The South Of France.....Again, I was overwhelmed with the amount of great great art that is there in these few square miles....

After leaving the Matisse Chapel, we then went to have lunch at the treasured Columbe D'or Hotel, near there in St Paul de Vence.This was a family owned Hotel and it still is from what I can gather. Many of the great early 20th Century Artists had stayed there and were given meals there in the early 1900's and on into the 1950's. Because they were very very poor they paid nothing out of the kindness of the owner. He actually allowed them to pay with their Art, and this was all before any of them had reached the heights as Artists. Like for instance this Picasso, below, which hangs in the Dining Room of The Columbe D'or........It was the Barter System at work on a very wonderful scale. So, right there in St. Paul de Vence is this lovely old small Hotel, filled with all this fantastic art by Bonnard, Utrillo, Matisse, Leger, Miro, Picasso and Calder, etc.Above, this is the entryway to The Hotel patio where they feed the birds and the people as well.....(lol).....It is utterly charming in every way....Lots of flowers and plants in pots. Simple but lovely tables with umbrellas where you sit and you and the birds have breakfast or lunch together......and all around you are lovely flowers----some looked like 'wild flowers'. And I tell you, it just all couldn't have been prettier or more relaxed....This place was not overly pulled together, if you know what I felt like you were at somebody's home and maybe they did the gardening themselves---nothing too planned out and 'landscaped' on that sweet least that is how I remember it, and my pictures reflect that, I think......I believe I read somewhere that this small lovely Hotel has only 16 rooms and 10 Suites.....It certainly had a 'family' feel to it and also, it always attracted many French film stars as well as American Film stars, too, I think it was because of the privacy it afforded.....Many of these people had been coming here for years and years and years....

While Olga and I were lunching there on the lovely Patio, I ran into an artist friend from California, Shirl Goedike....He lived in the South Of France many months out of the year and of course worked there painting Landscapes, Little French Villages and Cafe's...The Riviera was his subject and his work was quite charming.....He spoke fluent French of course, and in fact, the day of the Moon Landing, my father was interviewed by the Nice-Matin paper, and Shirl graciously acted as interpreter because my father spoke no French at all.....Both Shirl and I 'showed' our work at the Ankrum Gallery in Los Angeles, (that is how I first met him) and he showed and still 'shows', all over the Continent.That day Shirl showed me around the pool area of The Columbe C'Or, which was lovely and relaxed----again, like maybe you were in someones backyard, except this yard had a pretty big Alexander Calder Mobile sitting right there at the edge of the pool.
Olga took this picture below of Shirl and me, standing there by the pool of The Columbe D'or....Hard to believe that was forty years ago.....As we walked around I noticed that sitting there sunning herself was the great French and American Film Star, Simone Signoret....(I had actually seen her husband, Yves Montand earlier, as I was going into the Hotel. Shirl knew them both).
And I so much wanted to take a picture of Ms. Signoret, but she really didn't want me to because she had no make-up on and she was on vacation and not there to be photographed. Shirl told her what a big fan I was of hers and that this picture was just for me and I would never use it in any way. She graciously said, 'Okay'. I have never showed this picture before. Personally, I think she looks stunning! I hope she won't's many years ago and she is dead now as is her husband, so, here, for the first time publicly, my "snapshot" of the beautiful and magnificently talented Simone Signoret.....The close-up is below....For those of you too young to remember her, do go to, and you will see what a fantastic career she had and that she also won an Academy Award, ("Room At The Top").....One of her later films was "Madame Rosa", and I don't think I have ever seen a braver performance on film.....She was a great Beauty in her day...and by the time of Madame Rosa she was older and heavier, but not afraid to show herself as she truly was by that time, plus it was this wonderfully emotionally layered performance....Here she is below.....One if the Great Great French and American Stars of her generation.....
This famous Hotel with such an incredible History was a very easy going place and it was a joy to have the opportunity to be there and take it all in.....As you have seen above you entered into this courtyard where there were these Cafe Tables and Chairs and people would have Breakfast or Lunch there, as well as Dinner....And we did have dinner there, one evening......That door in the picture above was the way you entered The is where Yves Montand was coming out as I was going in, and it is also the door where Shirl was coming on to the Patio when I just happened to look up and see him....To run into someone I knew from Los Angeles there in that wonderful place....Well, it was really quite amazing, to say the least. And was another very relaxed unassuming place in The South Of France---easy to be there in every way---one could dress very casually and everybody did. St. Paul de Vence is one of the Old Hill Towns with tremendous history....Walking around after lunch at The Columbe D'Or was such a treat.....I snapped a few pictures as we walked.....Little winding hill streets with flower pots everywhere and tiny shops in the old existing buildings....St. Paul de Vence was as charming as could be, as were all those Hill Villages in The South Of France....When you realize how old these Hill towns are and all the history that has happened here...It is pretty breath-taking! And below....two different views af the same place...As you can see, these were at two different angles..... And see more plants in pots surrounding the bottom of that area where the tree is.....I loved seeing all these beautiful plants and flowers just sort of lining the outside of so many buildings.....A Beautiful Beautiful Hill town.....seen from afar in this picture below.....St. Paul de Vence....not to be missed if you are on the Riviera......

More To Come......

Note: Betty & Lee's Birthday Lunch will be coming along soon.....and there will definitely be one or two more "FRANCE-1969" posts....Also, I haven't had a lot of time to visit your blogs and I apologize for that. Too much going on for this old dame......

Blogger Mar
had this to say:

I have been in this lovely area a few times but I have never heard of Vence before, I will make sure to visit the place and to take many pictures next time! a delightful post as always. Take good care of yourself!

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 2:30:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful serie about France, Naomi! I would love to know France someday...
You did here a great reportage with your lovely memories and beautiful photos.
I enjoy so much this post and I will return soon to enjoy it again!
Have a nice Sunday my dear!

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 5:14:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What an adventure that must have been!

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 6:45:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I love the bloom of the flowers everywhere :) So beautiful and it sure makes everyone feel good.

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 8:03:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

What a wonderful stroll through the streets of France! Lovely photos and storytelling.

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 12:01:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Exciting photos and what a set of memories you have. I also have always admired her and love that photo that she let you take. I always liked him in anything I saw also. Very interesting and sexy couple

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 12:57:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, just keep posting about you trip to France in 1969.. The village is beautiful and I can see why so many people enjoy visiting there. I bet you were surprised to see your friend for LA walk right into the hotel you were having lunch!

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 2:09:00 PM PDT 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

What a post! I long to visit the chapel and the hotel. I never fail to be amazed at how close we are geographically to the French and how millions of miles we are apart in our way of life . I am a francophile I hasten to say.
I think I would have died and gone to Heaven at seeing Yves and Simone. How sporting of her to let you take her photo and she looks great. What a woman. I adored her in 'Room at the Top' and the book related somewhat to my own story.
Did you see Yves in 'The Wages of Fear'? I was spell bound by that film. Thank you for that marvellous trip:)

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 3:21:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

these photos are just so great Naomi! Other than moving to another state I've never traveled so this is my traveling! I love it all !!

can't wait to see Betty and the Ladies that Lunch! I hope Lee had (has?) a great birthday too!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 3:47:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

the chapel is amazing! so light and joyful
much like you my friend :)

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 7:14:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Your mention of the flower market reminds me of what I miss most about Europe: the daily trips to various markets for provisions. That was one of the things my wife found so difficult to get used to in this country. Supermarkets and shopping for a week or more. As she says, it's so much more hectic and stressful than simply walking to the local market, buying the day's necessities and perhaps a bouquet for the table followed by a casual stroll home.

Great continuation of your story and photos. I hope you spent a lot of time there, because I'm looking forward to the next installment.


Monday, May 25, 2009 at 9:56:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Dear Namomi,
I could write a book - at least - reagrding all these memories.
You knew my friend in Vence lives just some minutes up in the Hills from St. Paul the Vence.

The most amazing from that Year was of course the first man at Moon.

We were sitting there, in my Parents living room and watching TV. My wife at that time, my mother, father and brother. I remember we were among the very few that had an Emerson TV - with a Glass in front. My Father was very proud of it - as he found it the most perfected designed TV at that time.
Well, everyone but my father and me felt asleep before the historical moment when Neil Alden Armstrong said these words:
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,".
On July 20, 1969. I'll never forget.
Some days later we went to southerns France from, Norway, with my Fathers Car. For us, it was akind of a travel to the moon, at that time.

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 12:51:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I know I will never make the trip to France, my misfortune, so I am very grateful that you have taken us along on your trip and introduced up to your special friends. What a delight.
Thank you and keep them coming.

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 12:56:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I've been catching up on the France posts I missed and I wanted you to know how much I am enjoying reading them! What a wonderful and special trip that was for you in so many ways.

I love this little hotel you had lunch in with all that wonderful art. It sounds just heavenly and I would like to visit it if it still exists (and I can afford it!). I also loved the church. So crisp and beautiful :)

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 1:47:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

You have such a way of telling a story and providing pictures, it's almost like being there! I love the Matisse Chapel. I'd never heard of it before.

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 6:01:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Another lovely post! I'm sure it has probably changed a lot since you were there, so it's wonderful to take this tour with you. I love all the flowers in the pots and the pretty flowers that seem to be all around to brighten things up!!

Looking forward to the Birthday post and photos!! I'll bet you all had such a good time!!!! :)

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 7:05:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I am enjoying your stories about your memorble trip to france, and I am amazed at the detail in your descriptions. after all, it was 40 years ago! What a good memory you have!
While you were in France watching men land on the moon, I was at Buffalo Zoo! Funny how we all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on such a memorable occasion.

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 7:45:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I've always liked Matisse, wonderful style.

Enjoying this series you've been writing Naomi, it is really wonderful.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 6:55:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Utterly fascinating, from Shirl (where is he today?) to Simone Signoret. I can't believe that is a impromptu photo of her--it could be the cover of a book it's so beautiful! Always loved her. I imagine her life (and marriage) were not so easy...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 7:12:00 AM PDT 

Blogger srp
had this to say:

These flowers are lovely. I love how the houses are built on the sides of the hills and the streets winds up and down.. and that chapel is so beautiful!

I also extend a Happy Birthday to your friend Betty. My brother, Stephen, was also in the same company of Phantom that her daughter-in-law was.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 8:11:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Another great post and you're REALLY making me have France withdrawal! I can't get back there soon enough!
I really enjoyed all your stories...imagine bumping into that LA friend. Such a small world! And I loved the Simone story. I clicked to enlarge her photo...she looked gorgeous....didn't need any makeup. And how loyal of you to respect her wishes all these years! That really says what a great person you are, in my book! So I'm thrilled to be seeing that photo "debut" for the first time here.
Thanks so much for sharing all of it! Now....on to the birthday (and then, YES, back to France!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 5:27:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

First of all, how DARE you call yourself an "old dame?" You know you're timeless! Seriously...I know more people in their 30s who are older than you!

This post and the photos that accompany it are wonderful!

I love that the birds eat alongside you on the hotel patio among all the wildflowers! How relaxing and romantic.

To find your California friend, Shirl, on that patio in France must've been quite a thrill (not quite as surreal as watching a man land on the mood on French TV...but pretty close, right?).

The Matisse Chapel looks beautiful! Even the iron work on the door is fantastic! I love his work!!

I'm looking forward to seeing more of your France photos and hearing more stories from 1969. What a wonderful year it was for you to be there, my friend!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 5:51:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I always enjoy your posts, Naomi, but these of France are especially nice. When you were there and the moon landing had occurred, I was in the hospital, having given birth to my second child.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 8:14:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

It looks like there was something amazing to see no matter where you looked! Loving this series!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 7:49:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I will never forget listening to the moon walk. We were on the beach, and it was packed. Everyone there had their transistor radios tuned to it.

And I agree...the actress who didn't want to be photographed did look beautiful.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 8:40:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

You have a lot of integrity holding that photo as you promised without her makeup and I doubt she'd mind ALL these years later. I hate to feel like I violate people too and just refuse to do it. But like you I think she looked very beautiful relaxing on vacation as herself.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 6:13:00 PM PDT 

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