La Toussaint is a two-day holiday encompassing both All Saints Day (Nov 1), a day for remembering Catholic saints, and All Souls Day (Nov 2), a day for praying for the souls of the deceased. In the US, All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation. In France, it’s an excuse for the French to take another day, or a couple of weeks, off. French banks and businesses close their doors for the holiday and students benefit from a two week vacation from school! I found out today, after walking to the med school to work this morning and encountering locked doors, that it’s a vacation day for me too!
So today after working diligently from home for the morning (read: Skyping Emily, Facebooking, and Google searching “pediatric inguinal hernia”), I decided to give myself a well-deserved break. I’d been wanting to go to the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) for a while and I figured today should be the day, since it was open. It’s only a 15 minute bus ride from my apartment, and the bus goes literally door to door. The museum isn’t that big (1 floor of featured exhibits and 2 floors of permanent exhibits), but I spent a good couple hours walking around.
One of my favorite exhibits was a collection of donations from Niki de Saint Phalle, a French sculptor, painter, and film maker. If you’ve ever been to the Pompidou Center in Paris, the fountain next to it is called the Stravinksy Fountain, and it was created by her and a Swiss sculptor, Jean Tinguely, whom she eventually married. Saint Phalle’s work was heavily influenced by Gaudi, whom she discovered after visiting Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain. This exhibit was really cool to see because I’ve also been to Parc Guell and I can definitely see the connection. Saint Phalle also has a sculpture garden in Tuscany called Giardino dei Tarocchi (Tarot Garden), that I’d love to see if I can make it to Italy!
My other favorite exhibit was from the Ecole de Nice (School of Nice). It was a fluxus exhibit that blends different artistic media and challenges the border between art and life. It was really interesting. One of the artists, Ben Vautier, included a lot of quotes from different people, and some of them were very thought-provoking. The quotes are actually all over Nice (bus stops, restaurants, even the med school lobby), so it was cool to see their origin. The exhibit reminded me of a French class I took at Northwestern about Guy Debord and blurring the border between real life and its representation by the media.
Plus, on the top floor of the museum, there’s a terrace that offers a 360 degree view of the city– breathtaking!
After the museum, I was planning on going to a coffee shop to get some work done, but I got caught up in the beautiful streets of Old Nice. In this neighborhood, the streets and alleyways are so narrow, there isn’t enough room for a car to fit through, and the streets are lined with boutiques, specialty shops, souvenir stands, restaurants, and épiceries. I ended up buying two scarves and ending my afternoon with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream from Fenocchio’s– they have 94 flavors, including cactus, tomato basil, Bailey’s, and bubble gum! My goal is to try all 94 flavors before I leave 🙂
So I didn’t make it to church today, but I managed to take advantage of the holiday 🙂 Bonne Toussaint!
Today’s French word is:
feu tricolore (FUH tree-ko-LOR)- literally “three-colored fire,” it’s a traffic light!
Tournez à droite au feu tricolore et vous arrivez à la faculté de medecine.
Turn right at the traffic light and you’re at the medical school.