Gretchen (L) and Jeanine (R)

Notes on the Festival taken from a website: “When the world was lit only by fire, the flames played a mystic role in everyday life. On the summer solstice, a bonfire had a role of many enchanting parts.

A couple could not marry unless they were athletic enough to jump over a burning bonfire, or at least scorch themselves trying. The mythology was that the heat would kindle their desire, although in practice tender limbs would have created virtually the opposite effect in the marriage bed. The only fertilisation achieved by the flames was almost certainly of the crops in the fields, where the bonfire’s ashes would be scattered. One old wives’ tale often believed, said that the ashes could also be used to bring an end to a storm.

The Catholic Church hijacked the pagan festival of the summer solstice, awarding its date in the calendar to John the Baptist, a rather dull figure in Christianity it must be said, as interest in him was largely kindled by the arrival of his severed head on the dining table of Pontius Pilate.”
We stumbled upon this festival after spending the day in St. Paul de Vence.  A friend, Valerie Albert, and her parents, informed us about the festival so we stayed into the evening to enjoy the dancing, a glass of rose to support the church, and learn about this crazy tradition. We did not, I repeat, did not jump through the fire. Save that for another year.

Priest and City officials lighting the fire

One of the first brave souls to jump through the fire

Children soaking in water for multiple passes through the fire

 

 

 

This day of wanderings in Vence and St. Paul de Vence took Jeanine and I to the cemetary. The land could certainly now be developed into a grand hotel, it is directly outside the old city walls and slopes down along the hill with sweeping sunlit views.  Breathtaking, really.  But what truly surprised us, was not just seeing a black cat eerily resting on just one of the tombs, but to look down and see Marc Chagall’s tomb with his wife and yes, “Michael Brodksy?” Who is Michel or Michael in English, Brodksy?

I am not really interested, and have not researched it for this purpose. As the point is quite charming and was a real belly buster for us. Imagine, being a famous painter and on your tombstone you have one third name, no naming relation, listed. I just laughed at the situation of it all.  (Come to find out, it is the painters brother-in-law. Guess he did not have a plot of his own).

As we were taking photos on our travels, frequently, people wanted us to take photos of them. Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:

Have you ever seen this fashion blog, I want to be her! Well spending time in the country of France, takes this context to “I want to be her when I grow up”

The seduction of the women has even a straight woman like me in their spell.  What fun I have had studying the style, grace, elegance and yes, seductive nature of the French women this summer. I can capture their look in my mind, and try to mimic their moves and nature but only they know, as in having been raised in this environment, what it means to be her.  I want to be her when I grow up!

First, it was her. In her beautiful grey bob hair cut, and sexy informal clothing, being spun around by her man. She reminded me a little of some of the women who’ve raised me, and I was obsessed. Apologies for the bad photos of them.

Then…and only then…did she appear. The Lady in Red. And I wondered what I could learn from her, what stories she could tell, how many cities she has visited and men made her acquaintance. I am sure she was graciously dancing with this man as a kind gesture, to get her on the dance floor and noticed by others. Her memoirs have to be fascinating, and if not, then let’s make them so.

Onwards to the little town of Vence. Walking across this bridge, you can easily park your car at the Matisse Chapelle and walk a busy road, not very picturesque however, to come into Vence. Why bother to park your car twice I say!


The town square had a string concert starting and suddenly a small wedding reception entered to have drinks in a bar. It was quite a festive afternoon. The town is very small, and in the heat of the afternoon, entering this 4th Century cathedral turned me onto a handful of artful offerings.

A Marc Chagall mosaic dated 1911 in one corner, along with more typical church artworks and symbols surrounded the peaceful interior.

While plowing through the fascinating autobiography of Paris Vogue features editor, founder of L’Oeil and amazing art supporter, Rosamond Bernier, I learned of Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence. The church designed and completed construction in 1951, for the Dominican nuns in the town of Vence under order of Henri Matisse.  Last year, I had been to St. Paul de Vence. I adored this mountain top medieval village, see posts “Fashion Is Everywhere” and “Fondation Maeght.”
So we set out one afternoon to find the tiny church and support the history of art we find in the Cote d’Azur. As no photos are allowed inside the church, a few outside with a view of St. Paul de Vence are included below. When in the area, it’s a must see. The interior stained glass are bright green, and blue with bright yellow leaves allowing colorful sun to dance on the alter. Get your Wiki fix on the church history here.

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I love Twitter. I really love Twitter. I have been using Twitter since February of 2010 when I started and used @Parsons560 for two years. My current handle of @ProfGretchen allows me to connect to the fashion and academic industries wherever I happen to be. This past week, it happened to be in the S. of France where Twitter informed me of the 59th annual Cannes Lions International Festival, thanks to my guy in the inside, Cannes or Bust!

It was fun to have dinner with the lovely team of editors at WGSN, Rachel Arthur, Angela Rumsey and Ruth Marshall Johnson. And then..to run into them the following day on La Croisette, for an ice cream cone.  I had made a quick Twitter connection with the London team of Leo Burnett, as they drove an uniquely decorated ice cream truck using the handle of Leo Cornett, down from England for the festivities.  The charitable bicycling team of Fireflies happened to arrive and were in the same area as we spent time in the hot Mediterranean sun.

Jeanine and Rachel enjoying ice cream

One of the events we were able to attend, without a delegates pass, was a sponsored 1 hour workshop, at the Isobar tents on the beach. The workshop introduced attendees to coding, HTML, CSS and then Java in a very introductory fashion. They have been running 1 and 3 day sessions for paying clients in London and are shortly moving to NYC. It is a fabulous idea, to train creatives and project managers, the rules of the code so to speak. So we can have a better grasp on how to manage developers and coders. Watch this space for more to come from them I’m sure!

Thanks to the team of Isobar, and Kathryn Parsons for the beautiful spot at Plage 45 to work and relax. And thank you Twitter, for allowing me to connect with some amazing like-minded folks who were a quick hop to the next city! Inspiring work, cannot wait to attend the 60th annual event next year.

We have noticed this year, the french using their language in fun/funny ways.

On the side of a cool off-road dirt spattered truck, seen driving with father and son through the posh streets of in Aix-en-Provence, I noticed their decal “Aix-Treme”.

In Cannes, we went to an event called “Cannes you Code?”

In Antibes, a hair salon is called “Hair by France” as if the whole country is offering you hair advice, which they will happily do, but of course.

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