The Independent Traveler's Newsletter                                      PAGE TWO
This column is intended to advise you about cultural events, news and happenings
in France or France-related events taking place in the United States & elsewhere
 between now and the publication of our next issue.

In France. . .

Lascaux replica work.  Photo Courtesy Agence France Presse.o  Replica of Lascaux cave paintings completed . . .Three years of painstaking work by many dozens of artists has been completed ~ using paintbrushes, chisels, dental tools and pigments to create a true-to-life replica of the famous stone age Lascaux cave paintings.  The original caves were discovered in 1940 by four teenagers.  Until now, visitors were only permitted to visit a limited set of reproductions on display in Montignac since 1983, as the actual Lascaux caves were closed to the public due to concern over the danger posed by humans to the delicate micro-climate.  The new, complete version, has been called the "Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art" and has been installed down the road from the original which is partially buried in a hillside in the Dordogne.  At a cost of fifty-seven million euros, cutting edge technology was used to produce La Cité du Vinsomething with the utmost authenticity.  Francis Ringenbach, the artistic director of the project, said that the goal of being as faithful as possible to the original did slow the team down.  "Sometimes one has to spend hours reproducing just 10 square centimeters (1.5 square inches)."   3-D digital scans were projected on the walls, so the task was like using tracing paper to apply layer after layer of natural pigments.  Because of the 18,000 years of time that has passed, the chief painter, Gilles Lafleur, said the the animals didn't look the way they did when they were first painted, so the team recreated them showing the impact time has had. This magical replica of prehistory will open by the end of 2016.  

  La Cité du Vin ~ a cultural center and wine museum based in Bordeaux ~ will open to the public on June 1.  Visitors will have an opportunity to discover wine-producing in civilizations worldwide, as well as taking a voyage through time, history and cultures to learn more about wine.  This spectacular architectural building (see photo), designed by the Paris architectural firm, XTU, is a work of art in itself.  It sits on the banks of the Garonne River, and some 3000 aluminum panels catch and mirror reflections from river.  The interior will house temporary and permanent exhibitions of wine culture from 6500 BC to the modern era on five continents.  The tour is divided into 23 exhibition modules covering vineyards, cultivation, wine and art, and even health and religion.  For further information visit

  Europe's third largest low-cost airline, Norwegian, has announced the launch of their new long-haul routes from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport with non-stop flights to New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Beginning July 29, Norwegian will fly from Paris to New York, four times a week:  Monday Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.  Fares will be from €179 one-way.   On July 30, service will commence to Los Angeles twice weekly with fares also from €179 one way.  These flights will be on Tuesday and Saturday.  And, on August 4, flights will begin from Fort Lauderdale/Miami from €199 one way.  Norwegian will offer over 212,000 long-haul seats in its first full year of operations at Charles de Gaulle airport.  The flights will be on Norwegian's brand new, state of the art fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners with a capacity of 291 seats, 32 in Premium class and 259 in Economy class.  For more information:

Château d'Ambrus
o  About to open
to guests any day . . . Château d'Ambrus in the lovely southwest of France's Gascony region ~ land of the Three Musketeers!  This 12th Century fortress castle offers stunning rooms for the enjoyment of guests ~ amazing original stone floors and beamed ceilings ~ numerous bedrooms with tastefully appointed furnishings focused on the comfort of their guests, and 20 acres of parkland at the edge of Europe's largest forest.  Enjoy the tennis court or the swimming pool with a group of friends or family in this weekly rental château.  It will appear online within the week, but for more information until then, contact and mention the château in the subject line.  [photo at left]

o   France will be hosting the European Soccer Tournament, Euro 2016, for the third time from June 10 to July 10.  The month-long tournament will feature Europe's top 24 teams, and the matches will be in Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, NIce, Paris, Saint Denis, Saint Étienne and Toulouse.  Two and a half million fans are expected to attend, including an estimated one million foreign visitors.

o  Fête de la Musique, held annually on June 21 ~ the Summer Solstice ~ is an international success celebrated from Australia to the US to China and beyond.  In France it is presented by Le Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication in many locations throughout the country.  Visit this web site and click on the link Accéder au Programme for locations.

The 30th Street Theater Festival of Aurillac will take place August 17 to 20.  This five-day international festival of street theater welcome more than 120,000 spectators, 500 visiting companies and 20 official troupes with puppeteers, acrobats, actors and musicians every year.  Details in English at

. . .  specifically in Burgundy:

o  June 12 and 13 are the dates set for Burgundy's two-day festival of music and gastronomy in Tournus.  Les Francos Gourmandes invites headliner acts to perform on stage and in the kitchen by the River Saône.  Visitors can dine in the Allée des Chefs and sample local specialties in pop-up wine bars.  Learn more at

o   The 17th annual Les Zaccros d'ma Rue descends on Nevers from July 4th to 10th ~ circus troupes offer shows, concerts and performances, "one crazier than the next".  More than 200 performances are on the schedule and appeal to audiences of all ages.  For information

o   More summer street festivals!  In Burgundy's Chalon-sur-Saône spectators become the performers during five days of theater, concerts, exhibitions, poetry and humor with over 1000 artists and up to 350,000 spectators.  This year the Chalon dans la Rue will take place from July 20 to 24.  More information at

o  1,000 Years of History in paintings will be staged in the park of the exceptional Château de Saint-Fargeau depicting Joan of Arc's epic, the French Revolution, and American troops passing through Puisaye.  Some 600 actors play a part in this spectacle from the 9th of July to the 20th of August.  The château is in the town of Saint-Fargeau southwest of Auxerre in the Yonne département of Burgundy.

Château du Clos Lucé courtesy Château du Clos Lucé web sitePortrait of Da Vinci courtesy of Clos du Luce web site.

o  Leaving Burgundy for the Loire:  550th Anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's arrival in France. 
Amboise was his destination when King François I invited da Vinci to come to France.  He crossed the Alps, with the Mona Lisa in hand, settling there and spending the last three years of his life at Château de Clos Lucé.  It is now a museum in his honor and open every day of the year except December 25 and January 1.  For information on the activities planned around this celebration visit

o  Paris' Mus
ée Marmottan Monet will host  Art and the Children, Masterpieces of French Painting, telling the story of children in art from the 14th to the 20th centuries.  There are over 75 works of art from artists such as Chardin, Corot, Millet, Manet, La Nain, Cézanne, Monet, Morisot, Renoir, Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso, Dubuffet and others showing how children played a role in community and family life.  Until July 3.  For more information visit

o  Festival de Saint-Denis offers a musical experience like no other.  The Orchestre National de France and the Choir of Radio France will perform at the Basilica de Saint-Denis north of Paris, itself a  treasure of Gothic architecture.  Tickets can be booked online, but be aware that as one of the most popular festivals each year, tickets go fast.  The festival takes place May 26 to June 24.  Web site

Château de Servigny.  Courtesyâteau Robert.  Courtesy
Two very special châteaux are available for a few weeks this summer, so don't miss your chance to rent them before they are gone!

Château de Servigny in Normandy has one week left, August 13 to 20, and will very comfortably accommodate 14 people.  Château Robert in the southwest that will accommodate up to 15 people is offering July 23-30, August 6-13 and August 13-20, at a 15% discount.    Both have luxurious accommodations, swimming pools and tennis courts. 

So, call your friends or gather the family for a great holiday in the French countryside.  Visit these châteaux by clicking on their names above or on the photos.  For more details or to book your week,  click here to send an email.

In the US . . .

o  New York's Museum of Modern Art will host the exhibit Edgar Degas:  A Strange New Beauty, the first US exhibition in almost 50 years, exploring the use of the artist's monotype process ~ ink used on a smooth, nonporous surface and then transferred to a sheet of paper.  Degas' print techniques created many unusual effects, and the show presents about 120 monotypes and some 60 related paintings, drawings, pastels and more.  Through July 24.  Details at

o  The photographs of Henri Carter-Bresson will be on display at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, in an exhibition entitled Life is Once, Forever:  Henri Carter-Bresson Photographs, through July 24.  From pictures shot around the world to his images of a devastated Europe taken upon his escape from a German prisoner of war camp in World War II, Carter-Bresson's are honest depictions of life as he saw it, never staged but always honestly captured moments.  Information at

o  Salem, Massachusett's Peabody Essex Museum offers a fresh look at the work of Auguste Rodin, focusing on his creative processes and endless experimentation in Rodin: Transforming Sculpture from May 14 through September 5.   There are some 175 works on display.  For information visit

o  Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum  will host Duchamp to Pop, a n exhibit  of pop art using mass-marketed items as subject matter.  There are works by Marcel Duchamp , Andy Warhol and others in their peer group.   Through August 29.  Visit

o  The Brothers Le Nain:  Painters of  Seventeenth Century France will be the exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, from May 22 through September 11th, offering visitors the opportunity to see more than 50 of their paintings, portraits, miniatures and other works signed only with their last name.  They are most known for their peasant scenes, sympathetically rendered.  Details can be obtained at

PARIS' PUBLIC FOUNTAINS - Part Three in the Series
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            by Arthur Gillette

Planned for La Place de la Bastille:  An elephant fountain!

In 1808, after Napoleonic France and Regal Denmark signed a treaty of cooperation when most of the rest of Europe was against the French Empire, the Danish King Frederik VI made Napoleon a Knight of the Elephant, a rather strange chivalric order dating from the 15th century.

Napoleon had been casting about for the idea of a major monument to be erected commemorating the destruction of the Bastille Prison and sited in the middle of the huge public square thus left vacant.  Perhaps to symbolize his Imperial Prowess (read power) the elephant idea won out.

Elephant de la Bastille aquarelle by Jean AlavoinePlace de la Bastille today.And here is what the monumental fountain was planned to look like in a painting by Jean Alavoine ~ note how water was to spout from the beast's upturned trunk.  A few years passed and a full-sized model was made of plaster. 

For reasons not entirely clear, but probably to do with insufficient funds, the project dragged on for several years.  It had not been brought to fruition by the time Napoleon was ousted in 1815. 

The plaster model survived for some time, however, and it sparked the curiosity of many people.  Among them, for example, was Victor Hugo who, in Les Miserables, located the home of his boy hero Gavroche in the stomach of the never-completed Bastille elephant.

And, today?  No elephant in the Place de la Bastille, but the plinth of the July Column is there originally built for Napoleon's pachyderm.


The Fontaine Stravinsky - A 'kinetic' creation

This article is the last of a series on selected, because intriguing, Paris public fountains.  While our previous pieces focused on
 still-bubbling monuments for the 17th to 19th centuries, this one demonstrates that fountain creativity has by no means ceased in Paris.

Firebird.  Wikipedia

Fontaine Stravinksy.  WikipediaOn the Place Stravinsky near the Pompidou Center and cheek-by-jowl with the Contemporary Music Research Center and the St Merri Church, is the Stravinsky Fountain.  It was inaugurated in 1983 and is meant to symbolize 'artistic internationalism', and ideal that seems the more realistic when you remember that, born a Russian, Igor Stravinsky took French nationality and his life drew to a close as an American citizen.  Its designers were contemporary French sculptor-artists Jean Tinguely and his wife, Niki de Saint Phalle.

Its many-colored sixteen figures recall some of the music of the 19th and 20th century Russian composer for which it is named, in this case his Firebird.

Described as 'kinetic', a major innovation of the Fontaine Stravinsky is that it is mechanized so parts of it actually move.  To watch some of them do so, watch this video.  

Another American connection is that Niki de Saint Phalle's Firebird statue (photo below) is similar to the Sun God she created the same year for the University of California San Diego campus.  It was in La Jolla that she passed away in 2002 at the age of 71.



Niki Saint Phalle's Sun God.  Wikipedia


page 1    previous page                               next page page 3