Home

 Books, Film & Music

 Travel 

 Food & Wine

Gallery

Armchair Uzès

Family & Friends

Sports

Welcome to Armchair France

 

Armchair Uzès

la Vie Quotidienne

mai 2004

Springtime in Céret:
Le temps des cerises

If you’re in the southeastern most reaches of France, a stop in Céret and the Vallespir is a must. Not far from Perpignan and the Côte Vermeil beaches, it’s just off the A9 that leads to Barcelona, but light years away from the autoroute fray. On a recent trip, we were coming back into France from Spain, taking the beautiful backroads through the eastern Pyrénées. We came upon Céret on a mid-May evening, with the sun setting serenely over the mountains. What a sweet little town, perched in the foothills, and only truly French since 1794. Prior to that it was tossed on the waves of territorial swapping between Catalonia, Spain, France, the Moors, Rome, even Greece and Phoenicia.

Still snow on the mountaintops in May in the Vallespir,
just north of Spain and the eastern Pyrénées
 


Cerises from Céret...the first in France!



 

     The Catalan roots run deepest here, as in northern Spain – summers here swirl with outdoor dancing, concerts, bullfighting and café socializing. July and August bring the Feria and the big Sardana Festival, when amateurs and professionals fill the town’s plazas with music, corridas and dancing. Mediterranean influences abound – fruits, fish and olives.
     Céret is particularly renowned for its cherries, which are the earliest to ripen in France – so famous that a special supply of these cerises de Céret are flown to the President at the Elysée Palace in Paris every year in early to mid-May. The late May Fête des Cerises is a true crowd-pleaser…plenty of berets, baratines, vigatines and espadrilles can be seen on both vendors and visitors assembled under the shady plane trees.
     This unassuming little town is an art center and home to an incredible Modern Art Museum. Céret was a favorite haunt of  many modern artists including Picasso and Braque, and was considered the Mecca of Cubism in the 1910s. The Museum of Modern Art, opened in 1950 in a converted 17th century Carmelite convent, has an impressive collection of both modern and contemporary works, with several cubist paintings, a Picasso collection, and works by Chagall, Dali, Miró, Matisse and Juan Gris as well as the Catalan sculptor Manolo. Aristide Maillol, the renowned sculptor from nearby Banyuls, created the town’s war memorial.
     May is le temps des cerises in France and across Europe. Céret and the Vallespir region usher in the first wave of this symbolic return to good times, to vacation, to summer. Ahh, the south of France! Sunshine, fresh fruit, modern art, espadrilles...


 


Dance the sardana in the streets of Céret...
or visit the Musée d'Art Moderne



Cannes: sun and cinema
Cannes: un peu de soleil, beacoup de cinema

It’s May and that means the topic of French media conversation turns to the annual film festival on the Côte d’Azur. Just the mention of Cannes elicits images of glamour, stars, sex, and, oh yes, cinema. The Palme d’Or, Cannes’ version of the Oscar, is a much desired prize. Many a film, director and star have been launched from this Festival. What’s the scoop on this gathering? And what’s the correct pronunciation of Cannes?
     Back in 1939 a group of French filmmakers withdrew from the Venice Film Festival, protesting the influence of Fascist politics. They created their own small gathering in Cannes that year, but had to cancel it almost immediately when war was declared.



© Alerte orange
 

The magnificent Carlton dressed for the fest.
Many a star and director have stayed at this landmark hotel
where Cary Grant and Grace Kelly romped in the
Hitchcock film, To Catch a Thief

 

     After WWII, the festival took off, and the 1960s sealed its reputation of attracting glamorous stars, powerful directors and quality films. Today that reputation is somewhat tarnished for a number of reasons, primarily because it has turned into a huge gathering of wanna-bes, very few of whom get to see the crème de la crème of the Festival.
     This year 30,000 people have been issued passes to the two-week event, May 12-23. Of those, the A-list numbers only in the hundreds. The other tens of thousands have to line up to eat, drink and see movies…and access to films is on a tiered basis. The locals not caught up in related services are hardly involved, and tend to get out of town if they can. There are public showings on the beach at Cannes, so if you’re in the area in May without a pass and want to get a taste, you can go down to the beach with the teeming millions. For celebrity spotting, line up with other gawkers and the papparazzi at the red carpet staircase of the Palais des Festivals, where stars and directors enter and exit screenings. Or stop by one of the grand hotels for a drink in the bar.
     What about the films? Of 3,500 entered, only 56 made the official selection this year. The big competition yields the Palme d’Or but there are plenty of other contests: short films, world cinema, young filmmakers, etc. For a list of entries, previous winners and other information, try the festival's official site.
     By the way, how to properly pronounce Cannes? First, the final “s” is silent…always. And we have from official sources that although it isn’t “can” (as in tin can), nor is it “con” (as in cheat or against). Rather it is somewhere between the two, but closer to can than con. Clear as mud? Class dismissed!

 


The beach at Cannes filled with "beautiful" people...
 

Want to see previous editions of Armchair Uzès? Click here for a directory...
For the Armchair Photo Gallery, click here...

 

Home

 Books, Film & Music

 Travel 

 Food & Wine

Gallery

Armchair Uzès

Family & Friends

Sports

Email us your news and comments:  info@armchairfrance.com



© 2000- 2007 by Armchair France.  All rights reserved.  Not to be reproduced without permission from authors.