Friday, May 23, 2014


Running away has its perks.

That is what I did yesterday.  Ran away.  And it reminded me how nice it is to be on my own.

When I browsed the ship’s brochure, I noticed there was a scheduled tour in Nice with visits to the Matisse and Chagall museums.  It provided a hook for the rest of the art tours I want to take on this trip.  For that reason, it was the keystone excursion.

So, you can imagine I was disappointed when the first thing I found in my cabin when I came on board on Sunday was a letter saying that not enough other people had signed up for the trip.  It was cancelled.

I knew immediately what I would do.  When we docked at Monte Carlo, I would grab a train for the 30 minute trip to Nice and spend my day doing the butterfly through modern art.  The fact that I love trains in Europe was the
crème on my Napoleon.

That plan died at 7:30 yesterday morning when the captain’s voice boomed into our stateroom that we would not dock at Monaco because the seas were too choppy to send the tenders to shore.  But he had an alternate plan.  We were going to drop anchor at Villefranche-sur-Mer (between Monaco and Nice) and try tendering to shore.

It worked.  The train station was within a couple blocks of the dock -- and I was on my way to Nice.  So, was rain.  The tropical type I see in Mexico in the summer.  By the time I got off of the train in Nice and ran for a taxi, I was soaked through.

But not wet enough to dampen my art lust.  The Matisse Museum consists of a large collection of the artist’s paintings, sculptures, drawings, lithographs, and personal objects. 

The curators have wisely grouped the work in chronological order to allow the viewer to see how Matisse’s style grew from being an apt copier of Romantic paintings, to discovering the impressionists and pointillists, and then heading off into a linear style he made his own.  Sometimes, stark.  Other times, fantastical. 

The woman at the desk must have been a librarian in her earlier life.  She made it quite clear that my back pack (and especially my camera) needed to be stowed.  It turned out, she actually added to my appreciation of Matisse’s work.  Without the camera in front of my face, I could enjoy the artist’s work fully within its context.

I ended up spending the entire afternoon with Matisse.  Chagall will wait for another visit.  If I had come on the tour, knowing the time that was allotted, my experience would have been truncated.  As it was, I got to spend as much time as I wanted.  Plus -- I got to ride a French train.  Twice.

If you want to see the collection, I have two suggestions.  Come on over and spend time yourself with Henri.  Or, knock yourself out looking for photographs on the internet.  I am certain they are there.

Tomorrow?  We will visit Calvi, Corsica -- where people, who like legend more than fact, will tell you Christopher Columbus was born.  I hope it offers something other than that.

I doubt it has a train.


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