Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lacoste ~ The Mystery of the Illuminated Castle (10/07)

We were exhausted and parched after our uphill explorations in Oppède Le Vieux, the cafe there looked like they were closing so we set off to Lacoste in search of liquid refreshment. When we first arrived, the entire grassy area where we parked was cover with these curious white snails. There were hundreds, if not thousands of them.

We first stopped for a lovely thé au citron at Le Café de France where we also enjoyed the views of the vineyards in the valley bellow. Afterwards, we were fully refreshed and ready to explore Lacoste: the picturesque medieval village where cobblestone streets give the impression that time has stood still.
James was the first to spot a sign for SCAD: Savannah College of Art and Design. SCAD have partnered with the Lacoste School of the Arts to host four quarters for art students and professors from around the world the learn and teach together in this beautiful setting. Now this would have definitely been an incentive to me as a budding young art student, to spend a quarter in France learning in an international class setting. Oh, if one could only turn back time...Amongst the ancient village setting, we saw many pajama clad, crock wearing American students either strolling to get to a lecture short of being on time or carrying around dirty laundry with all the coolness of the "I don't care" attitude that only an art student can carry off. Yes, that was me through most of my teenage years.

Now I'm not one to slander, but we did witness one rather bizarre scene: as we were walking up one of the winding cobbled roads, we could hear a rather loud conversation from what appeared to be a professor giving advise to a student. From what I witnessed, he was giving her ideas for an interview that she was going to conduct with a fellow artist - including all of the questions to ask and a potential title for the interview. As we got closer I could see that the student was wearing a hearing aid. Now, I really took offence for the student over what I was witnessing: fair enough that she might not hear well, but that doesn't mean she can't write? I may be speaking (or typing) completely out of term as I don't know the entire story, but honestly, did he really need to do the job for her? I mean, as a budding journalist/artist, wasn't she there to learn using her own mind and not be dictated to? Let alone at a volume that could have been heard all the way in Bonnieux. After that strange encounter, we continued on uphill...

At the very top of the hill was a fantastic collection of sculptures from the visiting students...

One of which solved the mystery of an illuminated caste we would see at night from our terrace:
In the distance, almost at the center of the photo above, you will see something that is lit up. We couldn't quite make it out through binoculars, apart from that it appeared to be some kind of castle or large building. Now while this isn't quite the making of an episode of Scooby-Doo, we were excited to solve the mystery, nonetheless. This sculpture made it all very clear:
What we were seeing in the distance was the ruined castle of Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, or the Marquis de Sade. It was the Marquis' vision that Lacoste would be a haven for thespians and artists, so I think that he would be please. Apart for the state of his castle...

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