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Sept. 26, Thursday: Domaine du Rayol

Today began as all our weekdays begin right now, gardening from 7:30 to 11:30. The work is very physically challenging for me and it tires me out, but there is something satisfying about working outdoors with all the plants and flowers, so no complaints. After showers and lunch, we got into the convertible with S & T and headed off to Domaine du Rayol, near the village of Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer. Here is what the Michelin guide says about Domaine du Rayol:   “The Domaine du Rayol is one of the most beautiful spots on the Var coastline. Forming an amphitheater of wooded slopes carpeted with cork oaks, mimosas and pines, it started life as an exclusive seaside resort in the early 20C, when European industrialists and bankers built holiday seaside resorts amid the lush virgin landscape. “The first exotic gardens on the site were commissioned by a Parisian banker named Courmes, who had a house built on the estate in 1910. After the stock market crash of 1929, the estate fell into disrepair and it wasn’t until the aeronautics engineer Potez, who took refuge on the coast in 1940, renovated the property, that the garden returned to its former glory. He had a belvedere built by Patek, with a circular pergola, linked to the coast by a magnificent flight of steps. “After several more decades of neglect, in 1989 the Conservatoire du Littoral acquired the entire estate (49.5 acres) to preserve some of the last wild shores of the Corniche des Maures. The landscape gardener Gilles Clement was then brought in to create a patchwork of gardens planted with rare and exceptional species found growing in Mediterranean climates around the world, including dragon trees from the Canary Islands, agaves from Central America and rare honey palms from Chile. The estate’s many winding paths offer glimpses of the turquoise sea and the pine-carpeted headland.” Well, it was much more fantastic than I thought it would be. There’s really not anything more to say, I’ll just show you the photos. Oh, wait, I’m wrong about that. There is something more. You will notice some odd things in the photos – red rods hung amongst the greenery, blue pots scattered and lined up in the landscape, a ship, maybe some other things. Artists were invited to create art in the gardens. I didn’t take photos of all of it, but I did capture some here and there. I’m not going to say what I thought about any of it – some of it I enjoyed, some I didn’t – but I will leave you to your own reaction. The brochure about the land art is in French, and the translation is beyond my abilities at this point in time. I could ask Cathy, but I think I’ll just let you look and think for yourself. Those of you who are my students: we can talk about it the next time we see each other. And one more thing – I’ve included some photos that I took that I feel can qualify as “art” – the bark on trees, the pavement, leaves and such. See what you think. Feel free to comment on the blog.  
The main house at Domaine du Rayol. The "tree" leaning up against it is one of the art installations. That's Cathy and Sabine sitting on the steps.

The main house at Domaine du Rayol. The “tree” leaning up against it is one of the art installations. That’s Cathy and Sabine sitting on the steps.

We went in the front door (other photo), bought our tickets, walked through the house with some educational displays, then out this back door onto this balcony and, from there, down the stairs to the back of the house and the garden. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to live in this house? Look at the room, at the windows, at that view! Again, Matisse's windows and doors are brought to mind for me.

We went in the front door (other photo), bought our tickets, walked through the house with some educational displays, then out this back door onto this balcony and, from there, down the stairs to the back of the house and the garden. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to live in this house? Look at the room, at the windows, at that view! Again, Matisse’s windows and doors are brought to mind for me.

Sabine on the balcony outside that room we were just looking out of. You get an idea of the amazing view of the Mediterranean from there. And see that thing behind Sabine? That is another part of the art installation that began on the front of the building. The next photo is an interesting shot looking into the "tree trunk."

Sabine on the balcony outside that room we were just looking out of. You get an idea of the amazing view of the Mediterranean from there. And see that thing behind Sabine? That is another part of the art installation that began on the front of the building. The next photo is an interesting shot looking into the “tree trunk.”

I was quite happy with this photo - what do you think?

I was quite happy with this photo – what do you think?

The back of the main building. - really...I could live here!

The back of the main building. – really…I could live here!

I simply liked this.

I simply liked this.

Closeup of the wall of that stairway. Is it art?

Closeup of the wall of that stairway. Is it art?

My feet in sufficient footwear on one of the mosaic floors in the house. Hmmm...looks like Cathy is toeing her way in to my photo! Will need to crop this one!! There was quite a bit of mosaic work in the house, but I didn't get too many photos of it.

My feet in sufficient footwear on one of the mosaic floors in the house. Hmmm…looks like Cathy is toeing her way in to my photo! Will need to crop this one!! There was quite a bit of mosaic work in the house, but I didn’t get too many photos of it.

Off into the garden.

Off into the garden.

More cactus. Cacti?

More cactus. Cacti?

Cool creatures, huh? And how about this composition?

Cool creatures, huh? And how about this composition?

I think this one looks like something out of Dr. Seuss.

I think this one looks like something out of Dr. Seuss.

And this one comes alive for me even more - looks like it will just start walking along beside me telling me all about the garden.

And this one comes alive for me even more – looks like it will just start walking along beside me telling me all about the garden.

A circle motif - in the form of a cactus.

A circle motif – in the form of a cactus.

Another circle motif - how many ways can you make a circle?

Another circle motif – how many ways can you make a circle?

Can you see the beautiful patterns embossed on these leaves? Before the plant opens up the leaves are closed tightly together and they create these markings.

Can you see the beautiful patterns embossed on these leaves? Before the plant opens up the leaves are closed tightly together and they create these markings.

More cacti. For some reason this struck me as comical.

More cacti. For some reason this struck me as comical.

Tree Bark: Photo One: look at that blue!

Tree Bark: Photo One: look at that blue!

Tree Bark: Photo Two.

Tree Bark: Photo Two.

Tree Bark: Photo Three.

Tree Bark: Photo Three.

Tree Bark: Photo Four.

Tree Bark: Photo Four.

Tree Bark: Photo Five.

Tree Bark: Photo Five.

Tree Bark: Photo Six.

Tree Bark: Photo Six.

Tree Bark: Photo Seven. Bored yet? OK, OK, I'll stop.

Tree Bark: Photo Seven. Bored yet? OK, OK, I’ll stop.

I wasn't the only one getting carried away with taking photos!

I wasn’t the only one getting carried away with taking photos!

Where to now? What plant is this?

Where to now? What plant is this?

When the garden path led us to this view we were all blown away. It is the best view we've seen yet. The colors knocked our socks off. We stayed and stayed and stayed - it was so beautiful we didn't want to leave it.

When the garden path led us to this view we were all blown away. It is the best view we’ve seen yet. The colors knocked our socks off. We stayed and stayed and stayed – it was so beautiful we didn’t want to leave it.

Here's another photo of the same view to try to give you some idea of how very grand it was. But I don't think I have a photo that does it justice.

Here’s another photo of the same view to try to give you some idea of how very grand it was. But I don’t think I have a photo that does it justice.

And this scene was a little further on from there.

And this scene was a little further on from there.

And a little further on, this.

And a little further on, this.

Some very happy people. Sabine's eyes are closed and she is listening to the sound of the surf and enjoying the sun on her face. We all sat an watched the sea for quite awhile.

Some very happy people. Sabine’s eyes are closed and she is listening to the sound of the surf and enjoying the sun on her face. We all sat an watched the sea for quite awhile.

Art Installation: Red Lines: Photo One.

Art Installation: Red Lines: Photo One.

Art Installation: Red Lines: Photo Two.

Art Installation: Red Lines: Photo Two.

Art Installation: Red Lines: Photo Three.

Art Installation: Red Lines: Photo Three.

Art Installation: Blue Pots: Photo One.

Art Installation: Blue Pots: Photo One.

Art Installation: Blue Pots: Photo Two.

Art Installation: Blue Pots: Photo Two.

Art Installation: Blue Pots: Photo Three.

Art Installation: Blue Pots: Photo Three.

Art Installation: Ship: Only One Photo.

Art Installation: Ship: Only One Photo.

Art Installation: Clusters: Only One Photo.

Art Installation: Clusters: Only One Photo.

Along the garden path.

Along the garden path.

Bamboo.

Bamboo.

Another shot of the bamboo.

Another shot of the bamboo.

I played around with some up close shots of various foliage and I'll show you a couple.

I played around with some up close shots of various foliage and I’ll show you a couple.

Up close foliage, again.

Up close foliage, again.

Another up close foliage shot - this one with berries.

Another up close foliage shot – this one with berries.

And the last one that I'll show you. There are several more. Plus there are lots of other photos of other things, but this is enough. It's 10 p.m. on Thursday night and I'm going to put this blog post to bed. Then I'm going to put ME to bed - got to work in the morning!

And the last one that I’ll show you. There are several more. Plus there are lots of other photos of other things, but this is enough. It’s 10 p.m. on Thursday night and I’m going to put this blog post to bed. Then I’m going to put ME to bed – got to work in the morning!

Jan
October 3rd, 2013 at 10:12 am

Bark, definitely the bark! Gee, you take strange photos of strange things, too. Can’t wait to see what any of us make out of those kind of vacation photos.

Martha
September 29th, 2013 at 2:58 am

I really enjoyed the tree bark pictures; I can imagine one of them on my wall; the texture and shadings are wonderful to explore with the eye.

Diane
September 28th, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I vote for tree bark number 5! The textures, the colors…what a lovely series. I’m just getting caught up after a week with a miserable cold and many early bedtimes! You have enough inspiration in your photos to last you a lifetime of making art.

Laura
September 27th, 2013 at 9:30 pm

I find the tree bark–number three in particular–very interesting. With the blues and peaches, and the texture, it could be a painting!

gretchen
September 27th, 2013 at 4:57 pm

ooooh patterns! You know how I love them. The color of the water is just amazing and being a former mermaid I want to not only stay where that view is but dive right in. Breathtaking.

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Debi Pendell Artist by debipendell.com