While standing in Valparaiso, you can see the two “ends” of the bay very clearly–it’s more what you might call a lagoon. It’s relatively small. But it’s an excellent harbour, and back in the 16th century it was decided on as the best spot for the new Spanish colony’s shipping. That took a long time to really happen though, and it was only when copper and nitrate were found in northern Chile that Valparaiso really got going. It soon filled with–strangely enough–British businessmen who exploited the new resources and became VERY rich. One problem: next to Valparaiso’s bay is the thinnest strip of flat land, and then STEEP HILLS. The very rich built their beautiful houses on the hills anyway, and later, elevators (!) to actually get up and down.
Then there was a horrible earthquake in 1906, the prices of copper and nitrate dropped, and all the rich folks left Valparaiso. What’s happened to the oldest part of the town since then is pretty amazing: it’s now filled with every kind of artist–most obviously graffiti, but sculptors, theatres, and dance schools too–plus amazing restaurants, hostels, and shops. I did NOT want to leave.
You can either CLIMB into the old town on a street like this…
…or take an ascensor. I couldn’t get a photo of the “box” you go up in, because they’re cleverly hidden in buildings…
…behind which is the hill. And this.
The moment you reach the top…
THIS is what you see.
…and you see…
…houses like these…
Once IN the old town though, there are still some stairs…
For the last 5 WEEKS, I’ve been at an artists’ residency in the town of Vallauris, in the south of France, the French Riviera…aka Paradise. In between French wine, French food, and good-looking guys speaking French to me, I’ve been working on storyboards for TWO short films for when I get back to Canada.
Here’s some of what I’ve seen!
Our residence. I was in the TOP floor!
Sculpture on the side of the building, created by a previous resident names James.
The square outside our building.
The statue in front of the church.
The view out my studio window!
The patio of Cafe du Coin, RIGHT outside our front door.
Pissaladière. Olives, anchovies and a tomato sauce on a pizza crust. SO. GOOD.
DESSERT. Lemon tart. NOM.
Church of the Miseracorde on another town square.
A statue made by Picasso, which he gave to the town.
This ENTIRE building was kiln for firing ceramics. The wood fire was built in the main floor, the entire second floor was filled with pots, and those holes under the roof was where the black smoke came out.
Your average roundabout.
Vallauris’ main street.
All of the pots on the main street are decorated!
EVERY Thursday night there was a concert down the road from us. This night, it was jazz.
Two of my colleagues looking out over the show.
Picasso lived in Vallauris for a while. There are murals and monuments to him everywhere.
Ordinary 15th century street.
Wouldn’t YOU want to live here??
Fete de la Potterie!
St Claude, patron saint of potters. Yep.
We were invited to a beautiful 4-course lunch at the town’s community centre — BRIGHT colours everywhere.
Antibes is 20 minutes from Nice by train. Its old town is amazing — dark, twisty, under-and-over streets and archways. This part is separated from the sea by a frankly intimidating stone wall. From the Port Vauban (home to multi-million dollar yachts and sailboats), all you can see of the city is the Musee Picasso, because its in a castle at the original town’s highest point. It’s very much a seaside resort, summery place.
Place de Gaulle. It’s like a spray park – the water jets change in height!
Studio Perl hotel from Place de Gaulle.
Entering the Old Town.
Carousel on Place de la Resistance.
Monument to the Resistance martyrs.
Sweet statue on Place Nacionale.
Is that a man with a bucket of paint on his head? IS it?
Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Original bell tower of the Church.
First of MANY bronze statues by Nicolas Lavarenne around Antibes. This one is called Grande Arc en Ciel.
Self-serve washing machines at the port for the million-dollar yacht owners!
Cannons at the port.
LUNCH. Jambon on a whole baguette.
Cafe et amarena gelato, in a flower shape.
These are over EVERY door in the old town!
I loved the way this vine grew on the electric wiring.
Ferris wheel on the pier!
LOTS. OF. NAKED. STATUES.
Port Vauban is VERY new compared to where the Romans originally docked. It was built in the 60’s to accommodate the fancy new boats.