Sharon’s French immersion stay at Beatrice’s home near Aix en Provence
Sharon, an American student, spent her immersion stay with Beatrice near Aix-en-Provence.
We are pleased to present the article written by our teacher Beatrice about Sharon’s adventures in learning French and discovering French culture!
“Finally! I see it for real!” These were Sharon’s words when she saw for the first time in her life the famous Sainte Victoire mountain that she had already admired in Paul Cézanne’s paintings. It is in the countryside of Aix that one must go for a walk to discover and admire the main subject of this Provencal painter. Culminating at 1011 meters of altitude, it was his muse, his favorite model. He wrote about it: “Look at this Sainte Victoire, what a rush! What an imperious thirst for the sun! And what melancholy, in the evening when all this heaviness falls!
Fascinated by its light and colors, he represented it in 87 paintings, 44 oils, and 43 watercolors, now visible in museums around the world.
In Aix, some of his paintings, such as Les Baigneuses, are exhibited at the Musée Granet.
Thus, in Aix, Cézanne is everywhere. No need to go to the countryside to appreciate the views from which the Master’s paintings were born.
On the heights of Aix, between 1902 and 1906, Cézanne chose the Lauves to set up his easel. This place, called Le Terrain des Peintres, is a real open-air museum, showing the evolution of his watercolors.
At first discreetly, he painted the mountain in the background of his paintings, then gradually tamed it to place it in the center of his canvases. His way of painting evolves, and the forms become simpler prefiguring abstract art.
A few steps away, an enchanted garden awaits the visitor. Cézanne’s studio allows visitors to discover his world as an artist, his familiar objects, and the sunny and silent atmosphere of this magical place.
But let’s listen to Sharon, she still speaks best about her experience!
“What impressed me so much was that everything inside the studio remained intact. Objects that appear in some of Cézanne’s most famous paintings are there, in real life. For me, after a whole career in art museums, it was like a dream. And it wasn’t just these objects that made such a strong impression. Cézanne’s palette, brushes, and easels were scattered here and there, and many of his coats and hats and his umbrella were hanging from the hooks. One had the impression that the artist himself could enter at any time. You could feel his presence. It was an unforgettable experience. As I left the studio garden, I saw a sign announcing that this important site had been preserved with the help of American patrons. That made me happy!”