The forest on our doorstep!
Bienvenue, welcome!   Newsletter #11 February 2020

February in Provence is a fabulous time to get out and walk!
Luckily for us, the forest starts just five minutes from our door. There are trails all around the edge of the village and we have many that we walk often, choosing between short walks of 20-40 minutes, or lengthier jaunts of 2-3 hours. Some lead to high ridges that offer picturesque views over the old village, while others take us up and down hills through a mossy valley or to the edge of the impressive Durance river, or to a chapel hidden in the forest. 

We choose a trail depending on how energetic we feel and how much time we have available, and we've found that all of these trails are accessible almost all year round. Occasionally in the hottest months the forest authorities in the region may issue a fire ban on very hot days - it's rare, but walking in high-risk zones on such days is not permitted.
Most hiking trails in France are well sign-posted and marked using an assortment of blue, white, red and yellow painted lines and crosses. So when you visit Jouques we can explain this system and send you off in the right direction to explore!

We hope that 2020 is going well for you wherever you are in the world.
Fiona + Jean-Louis

PHOTO (above): A lovely view from the ridge overlooking Jouques, looking across to the oldest (12th century) part of the village.
Many of the walking trails are old donkey tracks, often bordered with dry-stone walls.
Other trails meander alongside lavender fields or just into the edge of the forest.
(below) On another ridge overlooking the village - once an extensive private garden, this spot is now a wild place where hundreds of irises flourish in early Spring!

Jean-Louis's first collection of work created in Provence, was entitled 'Les sentiers de Jouques' (the walking trails of Jouques). A mixture of oil-encaustic paintings and mixed-media drawings, all 19 works were inspired by the walking trails around the edge of our village - not only is Jouques almost entirely surrounded by forest, it is the commune with the largest forested area in the Bouches du Rhone department.
(below) CHEMIN D'HIVER, oil-encaustic painting, 78 x 78cm.
(above left) Lightbeam - le defend, mixed media on paper, 40 x 40cm.
(above right) Snow path, mixed media on paper, 40 x 40cm.
(below left) L'arbre bleu, oil-encaustic on canvas, 40 x 40cm.
(below right) Morning path, oil-encaustic on canvas, 40 x 40cm.
Fiona's original images - To illustrate what I wrote above about the markings used in France to indicate walking trails, I decided to include this photo taken on the coast near Marseille. It is a beach in an area that Jean-Louis and I love and which is not known to tourists at all! There is a lovely walk of about 3km from La Couronne to the beach of Saint Croix and this section is on the way. Note the markings on the rock in the foreground.
And now for something completely different - just one of the irresistible details in the exquisite décor inside the Hôtel de Caumont (see feature article below). Tassels were an important decorative element in soft furnishings in Baroque times in France, and still are world-wide for that matter! The art of 'Passementerie' required a seven year apprenticeship and encompassed the skills of making  pom-poms and rosettes, amongst other items.


One of the cultural gems of Aix-en-Provence is the Hôtel de Caumont in the Mazarin quarter. Commenced in 1715, it was originally built as an aristocratic residence and is a fine example of 18th century late Baroque architecture. It was acquired by the city of Aix-en-Provence in 1964 and, in recent decades, it served as a post office as well as a music school.
The property was purchased in 2013 by the group Culturespaces, which also manages the Carriéres de Lumieres in nearby Les Baux de Provence. Over the following two years it underwent extensive refurbishing, then reopened to the public on 6 May 2015.
Hôtel de Caumont now offers exhibition rooms and an elegant restaurant set in a beautifully manicured garden ‘à la Française’, as well as several rooms decorated in the original and very decadent Baroque style, which are not just 'over-the-top' but very beautiful indeed! 
The forthcoming exhibition will showcase work of the Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923), who is best known for his luminous depiction of people and seascapes. His painting style is impressionistic with loose, vibrant brush strokes.
The exhibition will be open from 30 April to 11 October 2020.

(above) The small but exquisite garden of the Hôtel de Caumont, in Aix-en-Provence.

(below left) The opulently decorated bedroom recreates what was fashionable when the Marquess of the 'La Tour d'Aigues' family occupied the mansion during the 18th century.
(below right) This impressive staircase occupies the main hall of the building - the interiors alone are worthy cause for a visit to this beautifully restored private art gallery.
(bottom two images) Two examples of Sorolla's vividly colourful art works.
working in oil-encaustic retreat now available! 

We're delighted to announce that we have a new program: a four-day retreat that Jean-Louis has designed for artists familiar with painting in oils, who would love to discover how to work with cold encaustic medium. Our retreats are fantastic value for money (and include accommodation). You can see details here on our website. Information sheets and prices are sent by email once we receive an online request. Please email us:
if you know anyone who's planning to travel to France, please tell them about our accommodation and workshops. Thanks!
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