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Jouques - an oasis in Provence
As you may have heard and seen in the news, it was hot, hot hot this Summer in Europe and oh so dry! All this after a very dry Winter in the south of France. Sadly France has been very affected and drought conditions prevail in many parts of Provence. Up until a few weeks ago Jouques was one of many villages hoping for rain to replenish our dwindling river and to water the forest and gardens - so I'm pleased to report that we have been amongst the few fortunate locations in Provence to have received several significant downpours - thank goodness! Jouques seems to have its own microclimate and continues to be a green oasis in Provence, where the fountains flow with delicious drinkable water 24/7.
Bonjour et bienvenue - Hello and welcome.
Fiona + Jean-Louis
I discovered something amazing, which has caused a lot of controversy - the fountain of youth. I have to keep it a secret! ~~ David Copperfield
From what we've read and been told by locals, Jouques has always been a very prosperous village and the wonderful source of water, called 'La Traconnade', which lies at the eastern edge of the commune, has been at the heart of that prosperity.
The River Réal that runs through Jouques is fed from the Alps and snowmelt in Spring, by the many hidden streams in the cliffs and rocks of the hill that the village is wrapped around and also by 'La Traconnade'. At one time there were 11 mills along the river edge, powered by the water flow they busily helped to grind various grains, make paper and grind olives into precious oil. 
The Romans discovered this source in the 2nd century AD and set about constructing an aqueduct from Jouques to Aix-en-Provence, mostly underground and at a constant slope of just one degree - it took around 30 years to complete. Even today engineers do not fully understand how engineers of that time managed to work out the complex methods to construct these ancient aqueducts! The source from Jouques supplied drinking water to the growing town of Aix-en-Provence until 1850 - thanks to the precious water from Jouques, Aix-en-Provence was able to grow and prosper.
Until the late 17th century when the first of the three fountains on Jouques' main boulevard was constructed, inhabitants of the village either fetched water from the river or had their own wells - many of the houses in the old village still have these wells in the basement.
(above + at top) Fontaine la Pousterle, approx 1760, is located opposite where a small door ('pousterlo' in Provençcal), was previously located in the village ramparts. The mask by Jean-Pancrace Chastel from Aix, was added in 1774, the original is now in the local history museum, while a replica was put in place during the restoration in 2002.
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(above) Monument aux Morts (Monument of the dead) is also a fountain, which was relatively recently built in 1921. A local resident architect Gustave Salgé designed the plans and it was sculpted by local renown sculptor Antoine Sartorio. It was restored in 2011. Plaques bearing names of those residents lost in WW1 are incorporated in the design.
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(below) Fontaine du Moulin (Fountain of the Mill) was installed in the 18th century next to the oil mill, which originally had a 'lavoir' (laundry) attached and is topped by a statue of Saint Peter, carved and gifted by local artisan Jean Salgé in 1989 - it replaced the original statue which was stolen.
(below) Nine fountains in Jouques flow night and day - the overflow trickles down into the river. Fontaine du Portail was installed in 1674 in front of a gateway of the ramparts of the village, it was sculpted by Jacques Cambo from nearby Manosque. The bars are for resting buckets on and a 'lavoir' was once attached.
(above) We collect drinking water daily and love it - it's a neutral flavoured water - we feel very fortunate to have this modest little fountain at the end of our street.
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(above) Another hard-working little fountain resides at the far eastern end of the old village and services 'les maisons neuve' (the new houses, circa about 1870).
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(below) This small fountain 'La Fontête' ('fonteto' in Provençal) was was built in 1774 and was topped in 1887 by the urn in the style of Louis XVI. It also once had a 'lavoir' attached.
(below) This is the last of three modest little fountains that lie within the old village, this one is dated 1901, so we can only guess that the other two were built around the same time.
(above) Fontaine du Saint Esprit (Fountain of the Holy Spirit) was placed to serve 'the new houses' and is dated 1875.
Fontaine du Saint Esprit is backed by the last remaining 'lavoir' in Jouques - one of four which existed along the length of the village. 
LUMA
We recently spent a day in Arles, which is about 80 minutes drive from Jouques. Our main purpose for the excursion was to see LUMA, the new kid on the block in Arles and a welcome addition to the arts scene in Provence.
The tower was designed by the inimitable Frank Gehry in his recognisable style, akin to the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao. I couldn't wait to see it, and I wasn't disappointed!
Apparently the design of the tower has received mixed reviews, one person stated: "Another extraordinary building by an extraordinary architect," (said Stuart Netsky) , while another said it resembled something familiar: "You know when you put some leftovers in the fridge wrapped in crinkled aluminum foil?" (said Jean-Yves Rehby), and another: "This was done for the 'Bilbao effect'. A starchitect trophy to give photo opportunity on a tourist trail. It's showbiz guys." (said Kevin McGrath) ~~ comments courtesy of www.dezeen.com
I for one enjoy contemporary architecture most when it's used as a counterpoint to old, ancient or very different styles of buildings around it. The juxtaposition makes it all the more dynamic in my opinion. However, as with any good art, all the necessary elements of composition, scale, form and proportion must be reconciled, along with texture, materials and colour. Sure, Frank Gehry is a star architect and the Tower seems typical of his work, but the building as part of the new complex in which it sits seems to deliver on all counts. Despite its shiny newness and angulated shapes, it has human scale and sits like a beacon in the landscape, almost calling from Arles to the Alpilles range in the distance.
While the landscaping all around calls to the Camargue, with plantings of native varieties and a lake to connect them all along with the old buildings on site - these have been renovated sympathetically and are now used as the ateliers for contemporary art and artists, a reading room, exhibitions and workshop spaces.
Innovative use of recycled materials encompass more of the old around the new, often in the paving and seating in the café areas - these elements add to the feeling of natural and familiar.
LUMA Arles is described on its website as: an experimental cultural centre that questions the relationships between art, culture, human rights and research. I think the melange of elements encompassed on the physical site suitably reflects this attitude and approach to experimentation.
LUMA is an easy walk into Arles, go check it out and see what you think.
    LUMA Arles in the Parc des Atelier
“There is one driving-metaphor for LUMA Arles: that of a living organism. As such the balance between form and function will determine its viability. The trick is to compose a polyphonic score where everything is ordered, but where everything is possible” ~~Maja Hoffmann

The LUMA Foundation was established in 2004 by Maja Hoffmann in Zurich, Switzerland, to support artistic creation in the fields of visual arts, photography, publishing, documentary films, and multimedia. Considered as a production tool for the multiple initiatives launched by Maja Hoffmann, the LUMA Foundation produces, supports, and funds artistic projects that aim to deepen the understanding of issues related to the environment, human rights, education, and culture. See more about Maja Hoffman here.
The Parc des Ateliers is a former railway wasteland covering 11 hectares. On this site, the Tower designed by Frank Gehry and seven former factories from the 19th century industrial heritage interact in perfect harmony.~~ excerpt from: www.luma.org

PHOTOS (above) The view of Arles from the Tower of LUMA; the reading room in one of the atelier spaces - the collection of recent books from Africa contained some wonderful graphic elements. (below) Looking across the lake to the Ateliers and Tower - the plants have obviously grown significantly this Spring and Summer, helped by the pond which produces a micro-climate that cools the park on hot days.

(from the website:) The landscaped gardens, park, and pond surrounding the campus are the work of landscape architect Bas Smets. Conceived as a journey through the fauna and flora the region, the 10-acre park is a place of life, interaction, and leisure that welcomes everyone. As they stroll through the park, visitors will discover artworks, sculptures, and installations. 
Fiona's original images
There's a lot to see in Arles whether you're a lover of art or not. However if you are 'Le Jardin de la Maison de Santé' is a must see as Vincent Van Gogh resided here for a time (December1888 to early 1889) for health reasons. He made two paintings here. 
In a letter to his sister Wilhelmine in April 1889, Vincent described the garden: "it's an arcaded gallery like Arab buildings, whitewashed. In front of these galleries a garden with a pond in the middle and eight flowerbeds, forget-me-nots, Christmas roses, anemones, buttercups, wallflowers, daisies . . . under the gallery of orange trees and oleanders. It's a picture full of flowers and Spring greenery . . ." (April 1889)
Today the garden and cloister are a little shabby, but still serene and beautiful.
Here's a final image of the Tower of LUMA, looking alien but impressive against the fabulous blue Provençal sky and those wispy clouds.

"We wanted to evoke the local, from Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' to the soaring rock clusters you find in the region. Its central drum echoes the plan of the Roman amphitheatre." ~~ Frank Gehry

It's time to try confit garlic
Making confit garlic is so quick and easy, you must try it.

Having a jar of confit garlic ready in your kitchen will make the preparation of so many dishes and dressings so easy and may even encourage you to use more garlic - it's actually very good for you. The bonus is having the garlic-flavoured oil to add a subtle flavour to your food preparation, when a whole clove might be too much.
Garlic is said to help boost your body's immune system, reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, it may help in the prevention of cancer and it certainly has antibiotic properties which help you recover more quickly from the flu and common cold. You can see a little more information about it's health benefits and properties here.
Here's an interesting snippet for you: On long marches, Roman foot-soldiers wedged fresh cloves between their toes to prevent fungal infections. (Read more here courtesy of the Argus)
Of course Garlic ('ail' in French, pronounced AY) is a key ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine - used as confit (meaning: candied or preserved), garlic can be easily removed from its papery skin and squashed, then added to anything: home-made vinaigrette, tahini + lemon sauce, casseroles, pasta sauces, etc. You can use it just as you would raw garlic but it doesn't require further cooking time. It's also gentler on the stomach so, for people (like me) who cannot eat raw garlic, it is definitely a very digestible option.
Look for freshly harvested garlic, separate the cloves leaving the papery skin on, place into a saucepan (suitable size for your quantity) and cover with good quality olive oil. Place over a low heat and bring to a simmer, then gentle cook for about twenty minutes. Test by inserting the tip of a knife into a large clove to see if it's no longer hard. Rest in the oil until cool, then spoon into a sterilised jar or two and pour the garlic infused oil in to ensure it covers all the garlic.

A jar of confit garlic is the perfect gift for the foodie-friend in your life - or for anyone anytime. See my garlic being cooked below (on our YouTube channel).
From the studio
Recently completed, this large painting called STILLWATER, is part of Jean-Louis' FEEL FLOW collection. It's oil with encaustic medium, 1metre x 1metre on canvas. Below are two details from the painting. See posts of this painting and more on Instagram
Here's a special offer for our subscribers:
Book into one of our five-night residential Art Retreats and receive a 10% discount on our prices and scheduled Retreats for 2023 - new prices and schedule will be on our website soon. You'll also receive a small hamper of local produce and a free evening of 'Discover how to play pètanque' during your stay. Applies to new pricing schedule and bookings confirmed with a deposit before the end of March 2023. Use code: Provence2023 in your email.


PHOTO: our most recent client drawing en-plein-air in Jouques.
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© Artelier Provence. All photos and words by Fiona Diaz unless credited otherwise.
Highlighted words are hyperlinked to web-pages. 
Newsletter #20
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