Following our week in Annecy, we headed south by coach, via Avignon, to Villefranche Sur Mer, an historic town between Nice and Monaco on the Côte d’Azur


FRAN1780Villefranche Sur Mer Sculpture by the sea

FRAN1709Enjoying the scenery – Annecy to Ville Franche sur mer

DSC06973Pondering history – a Kronenbourg, Exile on Main Street and Villa Nellcote straight across the Bay.

DSC06988A happy man with a half bottle of Chianti not so Classico

DSC06989Eleanor and a plate of Mediterranean delicacies.

DSC07005 DSC07015Our Hotel balcony was a hard place to leave.

DSC07089A quiet little square slowly transformed, by workmen and passing tour groups, to a place of confused chaos, but we pressed on with confidence and determination.

FRAN1698Pont d’Avignon

FRAN1752Pink Neon

FRAN1771Pathway to the water



FRAN1786 Cocteau sculpture near the little church he decorated.

FRAN1787 Pink Chairs

FRAN1793 All of life’s luxuries packed into a spare plot of (very expensive) land.

FRAN1833 Vive la France

FRAN1850 Pink Roses

FRAN1853 Stacked market boxes

FRAN1860 Sweet, fresh and juicy

FRAN1918 Old Town, Nice


FRAN1930Butcher shop mascot.

FRAN1971  Negresco, Nice – Where Isadora Duncan fell victim to a long scarf and a Bugatti in 1927.FRAN1991

FRAN1995Fantastic Paintings – no photos inside – see it if you are in Antibes




Everything is extreme in Barcelona – the food,  the fashion, the bars, the music and the architecture.

Antoni Gaudi’s amazing buildings dot the city and have become some of  the city’s major tourist attractions.






Sagrada Familia – still under construction after 120 years.



Barcelona balconies – making a medieval facade look like a Gaudi facade.


Some of the architecture prior to Gaudi was pretty wild and elaborate too.


9:30 at night and the city starts to come alive – bars and restaurants start to fill around 10 or 11 and crowds are heading home as the sun comes up.


Nail Polish pink Vesper.


Man with dog and sidecar.

The Barcelona Maritime Museum had an exhibition of giant puppets used for festival performances in the city. It’s a weird feeling standing next to these huge papier mâché figures, twice the height of an average human.









Sailing into Barcelona Harbour.


Tiring work selling candles.


Ham in Spain is an art form. Jamón de bellota, made from acorn-fed black-footed Spanish pigs fetches up around 200 Euro/kg for the best quality. The markets in Barcelona have hams ranging from thirty Euro/kg upwards and the vendors are happy to coax you into purchasing by slicing off tasty samples.


Barcelona’s Maritime museum is housed in beautiful old ship building warehouses near the waterfront.


This is a replica of the Royal Galley which was built in Barcelona in 1568 and was the dominant warship in the Mediterranean up until the 17th Century. The ship was 60 meters long and powered by 59 oarsmen.


Inside the galley is not near as impressive as outside.


Subtle Spanish sneakers.


Barcelona Beach architecture.


Looking through the collection of photographs I accumulated recently in France, I noticed there were a number of interesting sculpted heads. Some in art galleries, some in museums, some  decorating or protecting buildings, others saving their sitter to be viewed into eternity. Here are my favorites from this weird and wonderful collection.


We arrived in Paris with a week to explore the city before our workshop starts in Aix en Provence. Our apartment in Montmartre is great – close to some great bars and cafes, and just down the hill from Sacré Cœur.  A 6 day metro pass costs around 25 Euro and makes traveling around the city so easy – it is rare to wait more than a couple of minutes for a metro and the system is well signed and easy to follow – even for a pair of non French speaking Australians.

From a little bar at the top of Rue Tholoze – good beer and great view

Montmartre rooftops

Path to Sacré Cœur

Montmatre backstreets

At the top of Montmatre near Sacré Cœur is the busy tourist area where artists crowd the square and sell their wares.

Two people trying to walk past a crepe shop.

Rooftops from Sacré Cœur

Our apartment has a beautiful old oak floor and staircase. when you walk into the building you can smell the linseed oil someone lovingly rubs into it.

From our apartment window we look down on one of the busiest bars in Montmatre. I’m sure Picasso and Henry Miller and Alfred Jarry all drank here. Every night sees dozens of people spilling out onto the streets.

Sacré Cœur

The Romans lay claim to the arch, but I think the French must have invented the spiral staircase. We have been up and down so many in the last few days – thankfully Sacré Cœur has a clockwise one going up and an anti clockwise one coming down.

Spectacular views of Paris from the dome of Sacré Cœur

At night Sacré Cœur is a pretty scary sight.

Not near as scary as this strange grave in the Montmatre Cemetry…

…or the walls of bones lining the catacombs under the streets of Paris

The French are right up there with the Italians when it comes to decorative ornamentation

All through Paris are statues, ornamental gates, arches and fences and everywhere you look, beautifully decorated buildings. This all forms a backdrop to some of the most spectacularly presented humans on earth. The whole decoration thing went haywire back in the 1700’s and the Palace of Versailles  is a grand example of decorative excess. Unfortunately it was all carried out with tax payers money, bleeding the country into poverty, so the tax payers revolted and chopped off all the offending heads.

Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles 

Chapel, Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles has amazing gardens covering 100’s of hectares. This is the view Louis XIV would have enjoyed as he sat to gaze out his window.

This would have been Louis’ bedroom – complete with everything except a flushing toilet

This room was used by Marie Antoinette when the disgruntled taxpayers came searching for her.

These elegant ladies in all their decorative finery were apparently riddled with nits and lice, had bad breath and didn’t smell too good, as it was believed at the time, that washing with water put germs into the pores of your skin causing nasty diseases.

This little abode was built to house the mistresses of the then rulers.

Busking with Tuba

How not to sell glasses


Every year as the weather here starts to warm up it means the Swell Sculpture festival is just around the corner. It’s a mighty thing – taking over the beach and beachfront parks, Sculptors from all over the country contribute. The works all relate to the sea and look fantastic in the beachside setting. They are all on display 24 hours a day, floodlit at night and changing through out the day as the sun shifts.

Currumbin Beach 9 – 18 September


This time each year the annual SWELL sculpture festival takes over Currumbin Beach. It officially opens this weekend, but this morning most of the works were in place . An awesome spectacle –  the sculptures relate to the local environment and look fantastic set against the ocean in the early morning light.