How did I get here?
Day 81: While a train could take me across France and over the Pyrennes to Madrid, in the interest of time I would prefer to fly 4 hours. What the heck. I can spend extra time in Madrid with a book about Judith. In a park.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 8 am – 9 pm
Day 83: It is a 10-12 hour train trip from Madrid back to France. and I can use it to enjoy the scenery and relax.
Day 84: Pau – pronounced “po” – stands on a 200 meter elevation overlooking the valley of the Gave de Pau, a mountain river ford that gives passage to the Pyrenees. Oddly, Mary Todd Lincoln stayed in Pau following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. My destination is Vernet‘s portrayal of Judith in the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Pau also offers the opportunity to browse the breath-taking Château de Pau – birthplace of Henry IV, the first Bourbon king of France. I think I may treat myself like a queen and splurge on the Villa Navarre.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am – 12 pm and 2 pm – 6 pm
Day 85: One and a half hours by car from Pau is Bagnères-de-Luchon (aka Luchon), a spa town celebrated for its 48 thermal springs of sodium sulfate and ranging in temperature from 62 to 150 F. ouch. It is also often on the Tour de France route. But I am passing through to view the stained glass Judith in Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption (Church of Our Lady of the Assumption). open daily.
Afterwards probably relax and watch people on the Allées d’Étigny – an avenue planted with lime-trees at the southern end of the Thermes (hot baths) before taking the 2.5 hour train to Toulouse‘s Matabiau station. The second stop on the Metro the line (Capitole) will allow me to make my next home at the 1930’s inspired Le Grand Balcon to prepare for a big day.
Day 86: The second stop on the A line (Esquirol) leaves me two blocks from the Musée des Augustins. It is worth the trip to see three more Judith’s: Curradi, de Boulogne and a bronze by Segoffin. The museum itself is a historical Augustinian convent built in the southern Gothic style and is particularly strong in 12th century Romanesque sculpture from Toulouse’s main religious buildings. Dagnabbit, I guess I will have to start collecting Judith statues now.
every day 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Wed 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Day 87: A day trip from Toulouse to Montauban takes about 30 minutes to the Musee Ingres. The museum is on the site of a castle of the Counts of Toulouse and residence of the bishops of Montauban, and stands at the east end of the remarkable 14th century bridge, Pont Vieux. The museum is primarily 17th century, but some portions are much older – such as an underground Salle du Prince Noir (Hall of the Black Prince, like that doesn’t sound ominous). It is the largest museum of native son Jean Ingres paintings in the world. Except he never painted Judith, so I am here to see Gironde and von Aachen.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: (Sept-Jun) 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm; (July-Aug) 10am to 6pm
Day 88: Another day trip is in order to Castres since I have to come back to Toulouse for the next train anyway. It is a little over an hour and a 15 minute straight walk to the Musee de Goya. Javier Bueno’s unseen Judith and Flaugier’s ripe Judith are there – although this museum houses the largest collection of Spanish paintings in France, Flaugier is French so ??? Just relax and enjoy the charm of Castres along the Agout river, before returning to Toulouse.
(Sept-June) 9am to 12pm & 2pm to 5pm; Mon – closed; (July-Aug) daily 10am to 8pm
Day 89: “Allons enfants de la Patrie, le jour de Glorie sont arrive!” I can still remember those words from my high school French class. Mde Schroeder would be so proud. And with that song in my heart, I press on to Marseille. From the Matabiau station, 4 hours by train, leaving about every 2 hours to Marseille St Charles. The goal: Regnault‘s Judith residing in the Musee des Beaux-Arts Marseille. But ACK! it is under renovation?? And where did Regnault go in the meantime? Sacre bleu and manger de la merde.
Day 90: From Marseille to Menton is 3.5 hours with a change in Nice. How much fun can one have on the Cote d’Azur? i will attempt to find out from a home base in the Hotel Lemon – steps from the train station.
The new jewel of the area is the Jean Cocteau Wunderkind Museum. The building itself is a work of art by Rudy Riccotti and the contents is a labor of love collected by Severin Underman. Among the a showcase for the 2,790 works, Cocteau executed a painting of Judith as a preliminary to a tapestry (which I will track down tomorrow). In the meantime, I can revel in the poetry, drama, design, art and film that was al the talent of Cocteau.
Tues- closed; Wed-Mon: 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm
Day 91: It is tomorrow. And I am renting a car to drive the half hour to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Villa Santo-Sospir – where the Cocteau tapestry of Judith resides. It should be a glorious drive since it takes me through Monaco. And the villa – oh my gawd the Villa Santo-Sospir is to die for.
Daily, by appointment only
The perfect way to end my tour of France. And begin the overwhelming excursion of tracking Judith through Italy.