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




With a couple days up our sleeves before the French Painting Workshop started, we had time to get our bearings and explore the lake and old town of Annecy. The town is just over the Swiss border and sits on a a series of canals that run out of a beautiful, spring fed lake. The town and lake are surrounded by the spectacular French Alps, so that postcard feeling of alpine bliss is everywhere.










DSC06811Two small Painting Inspectors watch with a critical eye.


There is very little the French wont eat. We enjoyed snails, frogs legs and a selection of various internal organs transformed into mouth watering delicacies in this little restaurant.

FRAN1644Annecy hosted the International Animation Festival while we were there.


This giant inflatable screen and elaborate sound system provided a lake side outdoor venue for the festival.

FRAN1512Red chairs in the rain.

DSC06668Lecturers from the Annecy Conservatorium pose for us as we paint the ancient entry door.

FRAN1531We had rain on the first day of the workshop then, fortunately,  fine weather for the remainder

FRAN1533Annecy public gallery in the old castle.(Noreen dancing sideways)

FRAN1688Wild wooden horses

FRAN1652     Border confusion.FRAN1560



FRAN1485Produce Markets keep the town busy three days a week.

FRAN1480 Fromage


FRAN1428Tiger riding bike



FRAN1377  FRAN1370Straw to line the nest.

FRAN1361 This dog carries brandy to lost soles in the alps

FRAN1337  FRAN1222x

DSC06677x Day one, painting in the rain



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.


After our stay in Aix en Provence we boarded a coach and made our way through the French country side to Chateau de la Fluenie. The Chateau was built in the 1300’s and extended in the 1600’s. It is a beautiful old building set on manicured, spacious grounds just outside the small village of  Condat in the Dordogne

The main dining room

After a hard days painting it was nice to relax and enjoy drinks on the terrace as the sun went down.

We were fortunate to have access to a large conference room,should the weather turn bad. Fortunately we had only one foggy morning where staying indoors made painting a lot more comfortable.

The Chateau had its own heard of deer and a collection of very small goats.

Further down the paddock were a pair of friendly pigs

The small village of Condat, just down the road from La Fleunie, was a great place to paint. There was a bar, coffee shop and restaurant in the village, so we were well looked after.

Lunch in Condat

Butterfly disguised as dandelion.

Hand hewn timber in the roof of an ancient Condat farm building.

Trees in the region were getting ready to loose their leaves – some were bare, some where still green and some had fantastic colors.

We visited the medieval town of Sarlat – beautiful old buildings, markets, shops and restaurants, plus a wealth of painting subjects. A great place to spend the day.

Behind the Cathedral we found a quiet spot with a great view of one of  the towns Medieval houses.

La Roque-Gageac was another medieval town tucked under a cliff on the bend of the Dordogne River. It seemed a strange location for a town, but looked spectacular reflected in the water. We spent most of the day painting there, then went to visit the Lascaux Caves. No photos due to copyright restrictions according to our guide?!

After the workshop we traveled to Bordeaux airport where everyone headed off in different directions.

Dianne and I stayed a couple of days in Bordeaux and after the luxurious accommodation we were used to, the view from our room came as a bit of a shock.

Bordeaux has some beautiful buildings, but not far from where we stayed was the building below. It must be the ugliest building in France, built from checker plate metal, freeway crash barriers and funny little windows.

Bordeaux fruit stand


After a week in Paris we flew to Marseilles to meet up with the people on our workshop. It was great to catch up with friends from previous workshops and meet up with the new students. A coach took us to our luxury hotel, Le Piggonet, on the outside of the old town of Aix en Provence.

The hotel was a beautiful old building set in magnificent gardens. We could have happily spent a week painting in the gardens, but the town of Aix had a lot to offer so we split our painting time between the hotel and the town.

Le Piggonet

Hotel Gardens

Painting in the Hotel gardens

Dining at Le Piggonet

Flower markets Aix en Provence

Street Markets

We were introduced to some fantastic restaurants in the town. One of our students lived in the country side not far from Aix and had a great knowledge of all the best restaurants. This was one of our favorites – Le Patio, a small family run restaurant with a great atmosphere, good service and fantastic food.

The little town of St. Remy is not far from Aix en Provence. We spent a day there, painting and visiting the Asylum Van Gogh spent time in. We were privileged to paint in the garden of the asylum, where Van Gogh would have often sat and sketched.

Although the asylum surroundings were idealic, life inside must have been horrific. These bath tubs were filled with cold water into which troublesome inmates were immersed and trapped under these wooden boards.

In the town of St. Remy, the main square provided a quiet, spacious area surrounded by ancient stone walls and wooden shutters. We spent an enjoyable afternoon painting there before heading back to our hotel for drinks under the plane trees.

Blue Shutters – St. Remy

Cassis is a small fishing town on the Mediterranean coast not far from Aix. The busy harbour and backdrop of old buildings made a great painting subject. We shared the park across the harbour with the local boules players, cigarette smokers and baguette eaters. Under the shade of a grove of casuarina trees, we painted the changing vista of the harbour.

Cassis Waterfront

Paul Cezanne lived and painted in Aix en Provence. His house and studio have been made into a museum, crammed with his old coats, umbrellas, paint boxes, skulls, bones and still life props that feature in his paintings.

Cezanne had the house built to his design – living area downstairs, large studio upstairs.

The studio ceiling is about 5 metres high and the Northern wall, almost completely glass. The walls are painted a mid tone, neutral gray and there is a 4 meter x .5 meter corner hatch to remove large works from the studio. It’s a fantastic studio, unfortunately no photographs are allowed inside. Below is the front door to the house.


62, rue des Archives, Paris

The Hunting Museum in Paris (Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature) is a fantastic mixture of artifacts and art work relating to the killing, eating, stuffing and preserving of animals.

There is an incredible collection of elaborately decorated and beautifully engineered devices for hunting animals, and a trophy room chock full of just about everything that moves (or used to move)

These beautifully made timber cabinets display various hunted animals – from a stuffed example to bones and droppings in tiny pull out draws. A number of slide out drawings and a video peep show visible through a pair of brass binoculars complete the display.

The glass storage cases for guns sit on top of numerous drawers crammed full of related hunting paraphernalia …

…even knives and forks for eating your kill.

Unlucky rabbit

Even unluckier Fox

Handsomely stuffed leopards

Hunting dogs and Wolf

Stuffed fox still looks cautious

Stuffed hunting dog with poorly fitted false teeth

Heavy duty iron hunting dog collar.

The Museum is housed in a beautiful 17th century building renovated and decorated without compromise. The more you look the more magnificent detail you will find.


The French are responsible for some cool and quirky cars – Peugeot, Renault and Citroen make up the bulk of cars on the road but, mixed with these is an interesting collection of other brands clogging the Rues and Boulevards. Here are a few that caught my eye.

Citroen 2CV – these cars pitch and roll so much that it is said you can tell their owners by their grazed elbows

Weird amphibious convertible on a Paris river barge

Practical Plastic Citroen

Minute Ute

American extravagance in Paris

American muscle in Paris

British practicality in Paris

1960’s weirdness

Ancient  German engineering reborn

Tiny garbage truck at Versailles

Primitive 2CV

If you own a small white van in Paris and don’t have a garage, graffiti seems inevitable…