March                  2006
VOL. 10               NO. 1
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter

  Art Déco at Golfe Juan   A Hidden Treasure Trove 

                                          by Arthur Gillette with photos by Clara Liegeon-Dudezert


Art Déco at Golfe Juan 
 ~ A Hidden Treasure Trove
  by Arthur Gillette

Paris Enigmas

Ici et Là

Le Verger 
  ~ Classic Handmade Furniture
  by Julie Thirkettle

Law and Order
  by Christel Detsch

The Bookshelf: 
  ~ Walking in France 
    a book by Gillian and John Souter

The vineyards of Vacqueyras ©1997-2006 Cold Spring Press

The Vineyards of Vacqueyras

FEATURE:  Provence Revisited

Petite Pleasures
  by Maxine Schur

Franco-American Portraits:
  ~ An Interview  with Betty Werther

French Wine Report: 
  France Wine Travel 
          Part Two  of Three:  Rhône Valley
  by Panos Kakaviatos

Squeezed on the French Riviera coast between neighbors Cannes (Film Festival) and Juan les Pins (Jazz Festival), the diminutive town of Golfe Juan tends to get undeservedly short shrift from travel writers and, as a result, travelers alike.  The Nice Matin newspaper's authoritative guidebook to the region, Cannes et Ses Îles, doesn't even list Golfe Juan in its otherwise exhaustive index on Cannes and neighboring towns and villages. 

The captivating colors of Golfe JuanGolfe Juan boasts not a single cybercafé, much less a festival. But,  it was here  on March 1, 1815, that Napoleon I disembarked from his Elba Island exile on the way to a triumphal reconquest of power in Paris; and then, on June 18 of the same year, final defeat at Waterloo.

I'll confess, however, that a major attraction for me at Golfe Juan is not Old Nappie's comeback attempt but its abundant tropical-style, pastel-hued Art Déco architecture. Hey, this is almost Miami-Beach-on-the-Med!

Curiously, the town itself seems to underestimate this enthralling architectural heritage.  Its official Web site offers a special page on monuments that range from a 2nd century B.C. Celtic-Ligurian fort to the 1999 tomb of movie actor Jean Marais. But nary a word or image there about Déco! 

Middle Class Intimacy

True, none of Golfe Juan's architecture in this style is as grandiosely splendid as the Art Déco Hôtel Martinez on neighboring Cannes’ shorefront Croisette. But, at Golfe Juan an enticing intimacy is exuded by the mainly private middle-class dwellings – and at least one market – built in according to the Art Déco trend during the 1920s and 1930s.  How did this come about? 

Beginning in the 1830s Cannes itself * burgeoned from a sleepy fishing village of some 3000 inhabitants when Napoleon disembarked next door into a high society playground with a permanent population of 10,000 by 1870.  Among the rich and aristocratic who traveled there were, to name but a few, Queen Victoria, the Dutch Monarch Sophie and a bevy of  English Lords and Russian Grand Dukes. Their opulent peregrinations were greatly facilitated by the opening of the Paris-Lyon-Marseilles railway line around 1850, which put the Riviera in (relatively) easy striking distance from the French capital.  For a sense and, literally, a taste of the luxury in which the well-off traveled and dined en route, check the Train Bleu Restaurant still extant at Paris’ Gare de Lyon.

Golfe Juan's heyday came after World War I, when rail travel became more accessible to the less fortuned and, for a time at least, economic recovery gave many middle class French a bit more than pin money. Not enough to buy or build at Cannes itself; but sleepy – and cheaper – Golfe Juan was just next door. This period happened to coincide with the rise of Art Déco which, contrary to conventional wisdom, did not begin with the 1925 Paris International Exhibition of Industrial and Modern Decorative Arts.  For Art Déco, the latter event was more coronation than kickoff.

                                                                                                           CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Look inside

  to read about a new guide book that at first appeared to be just for walkers, but after a closer look we found that  it has useful information for just about anyone.


>  and come along with us to Provence to explore the villages, the unique sights and discover some truly wonderful places to stay ~ it's this issue's Feature: Revisiting Provence.


>   for an interview with a journalist whose life in France and her career  experiences are what some expat dreams are made of!


> to meet up with Panos Kakaviatos in this issue's French Wine Report as he reviews hotels and restaurants (and wine) of the Rhône Valley in part two of his three-part series, France Wine Travel


PARIS ENIGMAS  . . . A Quiz on Your Knowledge of Historic Paris
                                                                                                                    by Arthur Gillette

Question from the last issue:   How many prisoners were there in the Bastille fortress when it was taken on July 14, 1789, signaling the start of the French Revolution?

Answer:   Legend (clanking chains, dungeons, screams of the tortured, etc.) dies hard.  The Bastille had exactly seven (7) inmates!  Four were convicted counterfeiters and were immediately re-incarcerated, one was an incestuous nobleman, one was a political prisoner (presumably set free), and one was a madman whose family paid to have him lodged in one of the fairly comfortable apartments found there.

Our new question:  In 1889 Gustave Eiffel received a 30-year commission to manage his Tower built to mark the centenary of the French Revolution, after which it was slated to be dismantled.  Why wasn't it?

Contact Arthur Gillette,  and take advantage of his amazing knowledge of Paris by enjoying
one or more of his Paris Through the Ages

[See the answer to this edition's question revealed in our June 2006 issue]


The beautiful chambres d'hôtes of au Château

au Château

  Planning that dream vacation in France? Here is the web site that takes you
to some of France's most romantic and beautiful places to stay ~ 
country retreats that are historic châteaux, stately manor houses, or ancient priories.
Just a click on the photo, and you'll be one step closer to your dream! 

[If you are interested in advertising in FRANCE On Your Own, contact]

                                                                                                                                                                       next page page two
©1998-2006 Cold Spring Press   All Rights Reserved