Touch Côte d'Azur

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    © Shutterstock

Touch Côte d'Azur cote d'azur fr

Pétanque

Wander around any of the Côte d’Azur’s towns and villages and you’re bound to spot groups of French residents enjoying a lazy game of pétanque (a form of boules) in village squares and on park pathways. It originated in the Provençal village of La Ciotat in the early 1900s, with the goal of tossing or rolling hollow steel balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet, while standing inside a circle with both feet on the ground. It’s relaxing to watch and will get you truly into the spirit of this leisurely-paced part of France – but better still: integrate with the locals, pick up a ball and try your hand at the game!

Hand-blown glass

The enchanting village of Biot, lying a few miles inland from Antibes, has been associated with arts and crafts for centuries – and in particular, glass-blowing. On the village outskirts, the Verrerie de Biot is a family-run business dating back to 1956, when the first of its trademark ‘bubbled glass’ was created. Bubbles are a decorative technique and the effect can be achieved by adding chemicals to a glass batch, which reacts to produce random air bubbles during the melting process. Special tools allow the glassblower to manipulate the bubbles (normally considered defects) into certain deliberate designs. The Lechaczynski family took up the torch of the bubbled glass tradition here in 1973 and maintain a high standard of production today.

The Verrerie has been open to the public since its inception, where they can watch the glassblowers and purchase their creations. Many French and international glass artists now train in Biot and set up their workshops there. Visit the Verrerie to admire, touch, choose and buy unique hand-blown pieces for your home – there’s everything from plates and glasses to vases and paperweights. Many of these can also be bought from the numerous galleries lining the main areas of the village.
www.verreriebiot.com

Pottery

Another tactile craft on the Côte d’Azur is pottery, concentrated in and around the village of Vallauris near Cannes. Due to the area’s rich natural supply of clay, pottery has been made here since Roman times – but the village really grew as a pottery centre in the late 19th century and many producers have flourished here since then, notably Massier and Foucard-Jourdan. An influx of potters from all over France gravitated to Vallauris in the 1940s, drawn by the attractive conditions of a small village with availability of material, workshops and cheap living costs.

Pablo Picasso and Roger Capron both contributed significantly to the ceramics trade in Vallauris, while other artists including Marc Chagall and Edouard Pignon were first introduced to the craft here. Modern Vallauris pottery is lead glazed, brightly coloured earthenware, often heavily influenced by its Mediterranean homeland. The majority of items produced are domestic tableware and cooking pots.

Contemporary jewellery

Just next door to Nice airport, Cagnes-sur-Mer has become known for its contemporary jewellery and is the place to go on the Côte d’Azur if you love gold, silver and precious gems. The jewellery-related history goes back to 1960, when cabaret singer Suzy Solidor set up her cabaret restaurant and café (that later became an antique shop) in one of the houses at the corner of the castle square in Cagnes. In 1999 this space was transformed into Espace Solidor, where three annual contemporary jewellery exhibitions are now held – and it’s for this particular activity that Cagnes was awarded the label of ‘Ville et Métiers d'Art’ (Town of Arts and Crafts). Although represented in other European countries including Germany and Holland, this field of art and design is still relatively little known in France.
www.cagnes-sur-mer.fr/culture/espace-solidor

 

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