Gardens, Music and Art
One of the things I love most about traveling in Europe is coming
upon art, music or cultural festivals quite par hasard (by
chance). From small, home-grown occasions to grand events, festivals
are typically a short-term celebration of something or someone special
to the local culture.
A few weeks ago while in Aix-en-Provence, I found out about the
second annual "Flâneries d'Art." or "Art
Stroll" in Aixois gardens.* For two days, several magnificent
18th century gardens and cloisters in the heart of Aix were opened
to the public to showcase the works of 28 sculptors, painters, jewelers
and other artists. En plus (To top it off), several musicians
from the Aix Conservatory played for the visitors in each garden.
I had the good fortune-and time-to visit several of these enchanting
settings and mingle with the locals.
At the Cloître des Oblats located at the top of le
Cours Mirabeau, the grand boulevard in Aix reputed to the one
of the most beautiful main streets in all of Europe, I wandered
through the courtyard amongst giant, brightly-colored flowers and
pop-art paintings. Inside the cloister's stone halls, beautiful
jewelry and photographs of Aix in earlier times were on view. But
I was most drawn to the perfect symmetry and deep jewel tones of
small, ceramic bowls on display in one corner of the garden. I strolled
over to look more closely and struck up a conversation with one
of the artists. She mentioned that more works were available at
their atelier (studio) a few blocks away so nous y avons
fixé un rendez-vous (we made an appointment to meet there)
the following day.
I made my way to the Atelier Buffile late the next morning
and was welcomed by the same artist who turned out to be Monique
Buffile, a second generation ceramiste.* The studio was founded
in 1945, and today several Buffile family members participate in
the operation. Madame Buffile was charming as she showed me around
the studio where stacks of the colorful small bowls I had admired
the day before glowed in the large windowsill. Cups, saucers, plates,
salad bowls and more whimsical designs lined the shelves of the
some indecision on my part, caused no doubt by the tempting creations
and also by the fact that available space in my suitcase was dwindling,
I chose five perfect small bowls in yellow, red, orange, aqua and
violet. As she wrapped up my treasures, Madame Buffile and I discovered
we had a mutual friend in Aix. They had known each other for years.
We also talked about the beauty of Aix and the surrounding countryside.
"I walk out every day and am truly amazed how wonderful it
is here," she said. Having spent quite a bit of time in Aix
myself, I had to agree.
Later that week, I spied ceramics from the Atelier Buffile
in a chic shop in St. Rémy, about an hour or so by car from
Aix-en-Provence. I smiled as I perused the display. I had already
acquired my own collection of Buffile masterpieces-they were a souvenir
of a memorable festival and a visit with the artist. And they had
come straight from the source.
* The "Flâneries d'Art" festival in Aix-en-Provence
took place June 14 and 15, 2008. Entry to the gardens, art shows
and concerts was free to the public. www.aix-en-oeuvres.com
* The Atelier Buffile is located in the heart of Aix-en-Provence
at 2 bis traverse de l'aigle d'or. www.buffile-ceramiste.com
July 30, 2008
Return to list of archived articles